So on May 10th 2017, I finished my 10 Projects from the Toastmasters’ Competent Communicator Manual. I am a “CC CL” now.
It took me 11 months, 8 days to deliver 10 Speeches. Excluding one Contest Speech which I delivered twice. That was some journey, I must say. Out of the 10 CC Speeches, I delivered 3rd, 4th and 5th twice. As the evaluator thought that I wasn’t good enough. I mean, it wasn’t a harsh evaluation as such but partly I didn’t take it in the right spirit, I must admit. I thought I did a fair job of achieving all the objectives. But the evaluator apparently didn’t think so.
In the 3rd speech, I used a visual aid which got into technical issues so I thought I should deliver my speech again. I thought I did a fine job in my 4th speech but Evaluator suggested me to repeat. I delivered the second-time 4th Speech in a different club than mine. This club was 8 years old Club and had an audience of close to 30 people. I started in really good style but in the middle I felt my mouth going dry. And then bombed super hard there. I went blank for about 10 seconds (which felt like gigantically long) but still somehow, they gave me the Best Speaker Award there. In my 5th speech, again I thought I did decent but I was told to repeat. That actually irked me off. I almost felt like leaving this thing altogether. I assumed that Toastmasters was supposed to be a fun and friendly place where you could be supportive and encouraging. Being asked to repeat twice in a row didn’t go down well with me. So, I thought either I should quit or fight hard. I chose latter because I knew that I could do it. I shouldn’t get bothered by small lows as that one. So I concentrated on my CL, improving on my confidence and chose to deliver the CC5 Speech only after 100 days or so. But then I eventually did it and I was back at it, with more energy and passion.
I decided to explore other clubs where I could go and face a totally different audience. And so the 6th Speech was delivered in a different club. That fetched me Best Speaker again. I delivered my 10th speech again on May 16th in the same again as well later with another Best Speaker. After the 5th speech, it was a ride in 5th gear. I did my 5th speech in March and then raced, mind you with each evaluator appreciating the speech, with all the rest of the speeches in next 1.5 months. In the middle, I also participated in International Speech Contest and somehow won in the club too, didn’t win at Area level though. And contesting was anyways not my intention in my first year.
Collywobbles haven’t disappeared completely, which is actually a good thing too. But I thought it is good to jot down my experience from a really thorough, fully devoted and mind-bogglingly passionate last year.
So, let me share the changes I feel in myself after almost 1 year of my Toastmasters’ journey.
Disappearance of Fear of Public Speaking
I feel that now I can speak to a big crowd, without feeling afraid of them. I might still feel nervous and jittery in order to trying to do good. But I don’t feel intimidated by an audience because, I know that when asked to come up on the stage, half of the people will dig their hands in sands, half of the remaining half won’t be able to speak anything understandable. So it is liberating to know that you are in the minority of people who can go up to a stage and speak. It might not really make good sense but ability to speak on a stage eliminates fear.
Huge Boost in Confidence
There will be a shift in one’s confidence surely. Speaking in front of a group, making people laugh, seeing people taking inspiration from your speeches, taking leadership roles, being a Club Officer to decide the future plan, makes one feel confident about oneself. You know that you have to plan something, and then deliver on it. And if it turns out good enough, you get the small shot in the arms which make you feel real good about yourself.
Being in a Classroom Again
There is always a feeling of going back to school when you are in a club. You feel like a student again. There’s so much to learn from others. So many in-jokes to share. So many times you feel like speaking impromptu. It gives a sense that nobody will judge you (of course they will but you get ‘so what who cares’ feels imbibed into you). Also, you might feel bored while someone is speaking. Totally like being a student, right?
There are so many other changes but I am listing just the top 3. After my first year in Toastmasters, I could win these small tokens of appreciations. At least some people would have liked my speeches and at least a few of them would have taken some inspiration as well to do good in their journey.