Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | August 21, 2009

Public Speaking

I have a lot of catch-up to do especially on the blog world. Like I said in my previous post there were a variety of reasons which kept me away from the blogs – a few important and a few not so important one. Anyway, now that I am writing a new post, I might as well as concentrate on that rather than justifying my absence.

One good thing that I have learnt here is that, there is actually no age to learn something new. As a philosophy, most people I have met in India, is in agreement with this kind of a thought. However, I have seldom met such people who practiced this theory. Somehow we Indians bestow ourselves with adjectives like wise, know-all etc as soon as we cross twenty and in effect become mostly reluctant to learn something new. We provide various reasons for our reluctance – the most common one being – we are not interested or we are confused but truth remains we just have end up having so few things to do in our leisure. I am not immune to such an attitude and that is what I have begun to hate in myself.

Recently, I was introduced by a friendly colleague to an organisation called the Toastmaster. As you can see on their website, Toastmaster is an international organisation helping people to hone their public speaking skills. My office encourages its employees to join Toastmaster. To that effect, it pays for every employee who joins the club.

I had half knowledge about the club beforehand. I was under the impression that since our office has many employees from overseas who have never studied English, membership to Toastmaster is only open to them. Thus, I always thought I was not eligible without even checking about it. When my British friend informed me, there are no such membership criteria and since I love reading, writing and talking I should definitely give it a shot, I decided to attend one of the sessions as a guest.

I attended the guest session a few weeks back and I was highly impressed. There were people from different divisions of our firm holding different designations but in the meeting they were all ‘fellow toastmasters’. Each meeting has different role holders such as chairman, timer, grammarian, speech evaluators etc and everybody delivers either a prepared speech or an extempore. Each speech is evaluated and feedback is provided. There are set parameters on which speeches are to be organised and evaluations to be provided.

All in all it is fun as well as learning. I decided to join the club and on my first meeting as a member I was picked up as to speak extempore. I did fairly well though I was nervous. I was again picked up yesterday (my second meeting). However, this time I was little more confident and thought that I spoke well. I received a best speaker prize too. During the next meeting, I would be delivering my first prepared speech for as long as 7 minutes.

I am sure not only my public speaking skills would improve (which I initially was complacent about) but I would also make some new friends, learn about some different cultures through these meetings.

So far in three meetings, I have learnt some interesting things beyond public speaking tips. Some of them are, people set goals to run city marathons and train extensively for them. Boys and girls in Thailand have to become monks for sometime in their lives unlike in some other countries where they have to serve the army. A lady accountant (of around 45 years) who used to smile at me occasionally is also a part-time cricket umpire and now I love her even more.

At least in all these for the first time after my professional life has started, I have signed up for something exciting. I have to find something new to join over the weekends – either kickboxing or yoga. Let me see.

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Responses

  1. Kickboxing! Definitely kickboxing 🙂 I have heard of the toastmasters, I would love to check them out 🙂

  2. Good on ya, Tanmoy. Life is all about learning new things, whether it’s understanding Cascading Style Sheets or how to use a mini-rack for abseiling.

    Here’s a fun question for you … if you could take up any hobby regardless of time constraints or cost, what would it be? For me, it would be fencing. I’ve always been really curious. Plus it’s kind of off-the-wall.


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