Years ago, I often saw some posts of my friend on social media, who often showed pictures of something called "Toastmasters". It did evoke my curiosity.
But I usually choose to keep my inquisitiveness in this regard at bay. One fine day, I met my friend over coffee and asked him rather cautiously about Toastmasters that remotely seemed unstimulating but potentially exciting. My friend spoke at a great length about the organisation and its format. About how public speaking and leadership is maximised. In all honesty, it was a little vexing for me. Public speaking is as personal as one's signature, I argued at the back of my mind. Not all great public speakers had the same style of speaking. Case in point: Martin Luther King and Winston Churchill. Completely different!
Therefore, how could one streamline this vestal process to a specific course of pattern?
But having a monotonous professional lifestyle left me desiring for more. Back in the good old school & college days’, there was no lack of challenges left to avail, I kept striving myself to push and prove myself. Enter work life, I joined my office with the same sense of vigour and enthusiasm, ready to take on the world.
But as the clockworks started to rotate in the most conventional way, my own zeal began to wear down. It came to a point where one morning, as I left for work, I became conscious of how mechanical my life had become. As an avid social media consumer, I accessed one of my social media content, and voila! Therein all the glory was one of my acquaintances with trophies in their hands and writing about how instrumental Toastmasters has been in their life.
The urge to grow, to keep the internal fire ablaze, bothered me to no bounds. “You will never know until you tried it out.” I thought, finally resigning to the opportunity to try. Thus I approached a club rather anxiously.
It was a significant paradigm shift for me to witness a Toastmaster meeting. I often considered myself to be an effective speaker. But this was on another level. The atmosphere was surreal, the people most warm and welcoming. What I saw at this meeting that it was the type of furnace to mould myself into something stupendous, credible and worthy.
As I retired back to my house that night, it dawned on to me: "One of the first steps to accomplishment was to acknowledge the path that was ahead."
The rest has been pretty much history. Today, when I head towards a Toastmasters event, I see something in all those fellow Toastmasters who I happen to meet, something unites us: The urge to be heard. The urge to be recognised. The call to grow more.
And the leadership skills we learn in Toastmasters? Well, that’s a story for another time.