On a rainy Friday evening in the month of December 2007, I walked into one of the classrooms of St. Joseph College in MG Road, Bangalore.
I was afraid, anxious and uncertain. I was profusely sweating in spite of being fully drenched in the rain.
I was supposed to deliver my Ice Breaker Speech as a new member of Bangalore Toastmasters Club. It was a club of highly talented people with HR Managers, Trainers, Professors and Professionals as its members. I felt like an odd man out in that elite crowd of proficient speakers.
Ooohh….Wait a minute.
Why did I go there? I think you should know what happened few weeks before this most important day in my life.
I was working in a well-paid job in a US-based Semiconductor design company, still confused and wondering what to do in life…? I wanted to become a trainer but wasn’t knowing how to become one. I met my one of Mentors Mr Krishnan with this confusion about my long-term life and career.
“Siva, you have got a good reading habit, you are also passionate about teaching and training but what you need is the ability to speak confidently in public to become a Corporate Trainer”, said Krishnan. He continued, “There is an organisation called Toastmasters and I think that should help you on this. Go check it out”.
Now, let’s come back to that rainy Friday evening.
Members started assembling inside the classroom. I was staring out through the window without being able to enjoy the drizzle outside. I even thought of quietly sneaking out before everyone arrives. By then the meeting started and I tucked myself on the last bench biting my nails. When VP Education TM Jindow Joseph called me to speak, I reluctantly walked up to the podium, stood there clueless and royally floundered. I did not even speak for 2 mins, walked down saying “I am sorry, I haven’t prepared”.
During the General Evaluation to my surprise, TM John Bosco Abraham was kind enough to ask the members to give standing ovation appreciating my miserably failed icebreaker attempt. That evening TM Arun John Mathias was allotted as my 1st mentor in my Toastmasters Journey.
If not for that positive appreciation I would have still believed that “I am not fit for speaking in front of people”.
Only after transitioning down to Coimbatore, I realised the importance of Toastmasters. Got to meet Senthil Kannan who was running a club in Tuticorin. He connected me to Saro Velrajan and that paved way to start Coimbatore Toastmasters Club which just celebrated it’s 300th Meeting a few weeks ago.
It has taken 10 years for me to reach this destination called – Distinguished ToastMaster (DTM). So many lovely people had contributed in this long journey.
Many senior Toastmasters including DTM Saro Velrajan, DTM Suganthi Periyasam, DTM Satish, DTM Nina John, DTM Sastharam, DTM Abraham, were all passionately supporting in building a Club here in Coimbatore.
Dr Ramaswamy Nandagopal, Director of PSG Institute of Management was kind enough to extend his support to Toastmasters here in Coimbatore. Thank you, Sir.
DTM Sudash Liyanage, DTM Suganthi Periasamy and Mythily Ramanan, played a very important role in my term as D82 – L3 Area Director during which we doubled the number of clubs from 4 to 8. Thank you.
Thanks to DTM Sundaresan Sekar who had already done the work for me to get the new clubs started quickly in Area L3.
After all the above, My one large family – @Coimbatore Toastmasters Club, all its founding members, all the past and present members/club officers deserve a mention here. Thank you, folks. You are the reason for my meaningful journey of Toastmastering.
And of course, Sangeetha and Akhil were always with me in this endeavour.
I believe Toastmasters is all about peer learning, friendship, mutual support and growing together. My sincere Gratitude and Thanks to everyone who contributed to my Toastmasters Journey. Thank you so very much.
I never even remotely imagined that I’ll become a full-time Professional Speaker and Trainer in my life. I am grateful that picked a large part of these skills from Toastmasters.
I am always indebted to this stupendous organisation Toastmasters – “Where Leaders are Made”.
– DTM Sivakumar Palaniappan.