Student life is the best time to invest in yourself and one of the best ways to do so is by joining a Toastmasters Club, which helps you become a better communicator and eventually a better leader
--BY KRITISHA PRAJAPATI
We’re all in a race, running at our own pace to achieve the happiness we think we deserve. Some seek money for happiness, some in education and some for mere validation. But amid this fierce battle, we quite often forget ourselves and forget the fact that the key to happiness can be better achieved when we are the best version of ourselves. We can see a lot of organisations and clubs working for the benefit of the society and community, with various objectives to solve the prevailing problems in the world, but only a handful when it comes to self development and solving the problem within.
As students, we’re in a phase where we are facing a lot of changes, still discovering ourselves and are often confused as to what we want and what we don’t. I believe this is the best time to invest in yourself and one of the best ways to do so is by joining a Toastmasters Club, which helps you become a better communicator and eventually a better leader.
“Toastmaster” is a popular term that refers to a person who gives a toast at a banquet or other occasion. So, back in 1924, when it was established, the main purpose was to enhance the communication and leadership skills of its members and help them overcome their fear of public speaking. However, as you become a part of a toastmasters club, you realise there is more to it than that.
Being a student and a member of a Toastmasters Club, I believe it teaches us lessons beyond the premises of our schools and colleges. Toastmasters is a non-profit international educational organisation, and currently operates in 142 countries across the globe. So, once you join a Toastmasters club, you can easily access any toastmasters club in the world. In Nepal alone there are 11 clubs which was initiated by Kathmandu Toastmasters Club in 1991. This has benefitted many students and professionals in their personal development. Students in particular have a lot to benefit from this club and here are some reasons why:
Developing Communication Skills = Solving Half Your Problems
Communication is the foundation of all human relationships and the key to better communication is to listen. A Toastmasters Club is where you do a lot of listening. If you are one who fears public speaking, chances are observing is all that you will be doing at least for a couple of meetings. Gradually, you will develop the habit of listening.
Moreover, Toastmasters provides you with a proven educational programme, consisting of two streams, one of which is guided by the Competent Communicators Manual. This manual is the holy book to effective communication and to become a better speaker. It incorporates a total of 10 projects, starting from an ‘Icebreaker’, (when you begin speaking before an audience with an introduction of yourself), which gradually levels up to ‘Getting to the Point’ (when you learn to stop beating around the bush), ‘Persuade your audience’ (persuading listeners to adopt your viewpoint) and ‘Inspire your audience’ (to inspire the audience by appealing to noble motives). If you think about it, these are some of the qualities one requires in any and every field one is in. Be it dealing with a patient, teacher or a customer, we all need to make our points clear and persuade them to envision the subject matter through our perspective.
Leadership : A Hidden Treasure Within
Leadership is innate, everyone is born with it. The difference is some believe they have it, some do not. To the people who believe they have something in them, Toastmasters Club is here to bring out the leader in you.
Every Toastmasters meeting has a ‘Toastmaster of the Day” (TMOA) who is the host of the meeting. When one decides to take up the role as a TMOD, s/he is responsible for nearly anything and everything in the meeting, from role players and speakers to the food and arrangement of the venue. This is one of the tasks guided by the Competent Leadership (CL) Manual which helps to bring out the leader in you.
In addition, the CL manual also includes some simple tasks that help you build your leadership skill by encouraging you to take up various roles in the meeting which enhances your ability to think critically, manage time, plan and implement, organise and delegate and so on. Following this manual will help you become a better leader as it seeks out your leadership skills.
Think on Your Feet
Quite often we find ourselves in a situation where we think about a confrontation or a conversation and think of better arguments we could’ve put forward. To avoid such situations there’s an entire segment in every toastmasters meeting dedicated solely to speaking impromptu, which means you speak without advance preparations.
This can serve as one of the handiest skills that you will develop which prepares you for anything that comes your way, be it your professional life or the personal one.
Home for Organised Individuals
Another important thing you learn in a toastmasters club is to become organised and disciplined. The club doesn’t depend on one individual to look after its quality. It is in fact the joint effort of all. The role players look after the speakers of that very meeting, keeping a record of the places they did a commendable job and places where they could improve. This creates a sense of mindfulness in each member and eventually helps them become more organised and disciplined.
No Stress to Fit In
The best thing about toastmasters club is the fact that everything is voluntary from taking up roles in the meeting to giving your speech. You can join a toastmasters club today and start giving your speech the next day or you can wait and observe for a couple of meetings, feel more comfortable and then begin. There will be encouragement and friendly reminders to take up a role or give a speech every now and then, but never imposing or forcing, which I believe is the charm of a toastmasters club. This charm is built upon the mutual understanding of what the fear of public speaking feels like and this creates an amiable atmosphere to let yourself loose and grasp every ounce of knowledge and confidence the cohort of likeminded people radiate.
Directly or indirectly all of the above attributes go into to making us the best version of ourselves. These are all the real life skills that help us get back up when life knocks us down. Joining a Toastmasters Club as a student can boost your career in a way schools and colleges cannot. Toastmasters club is for people of age groups 18 and above. For students below the age of 18, there is a club similar to this known as Gavel Club, which is yet to be established in Nepal.
The students in general have the added benefit of learning more professional and profound subject matters as they become a part of such clubs. This is because, once you join a toastmasters club, you become a part of a huge family whose branches reach to various other organisations. For example, Laxmi Bank and Standard Chartered Bank have their own toastmasters club and there are other clubs such as Everest Toastmasters Club and Himalaya Toastmasters Club which have members from various organisations. This myriad of professional members creates an environment suitable for students to foster in their professional career.
Keeping in mind the educational scenario in Nepal, a Toastmasters Club is a suitable platform for people who yearn to learn. Here are a few words from Toastmaster Suman Shakya, co-founder at Smart Pani and Nepal Entrepreneurs Hub, public speaker and influencer:
“As a student in Nepal, you mostly learn by following instructions and stress upon acquiring knowledge. Students take the word from the faculty/ teacher as sacrosanct. Toastmasters Club is a welcome departure wherein ‘action learning’ takes place among members, seniors and juniors alike, as peers in a non-threatening environment.”
In addition to all this, Toastmasters International is rolling out a new educational programme, integrating the existing two streams into one for more practical and real world communication scenarios. You can follow “Toastmasters in Nepal” on Facebook to know more about it and/or begin your journey to a better ‘You’.
The article’s author is a fourth semester student of BBA in Marketing at Kathmandu College of Management (KCM). She is a member of Toastmasters International and Vice-president of Education at KCM Toastmasters Club.