History has time and again reminded us of the importance and criticality of effective communication. Leaders through the generations have utilized the power of the spoken word to rally support from their people, both for the general good or for personal gain. One cannot deny that inextricably tied to success in every sphere of life today is impactful communications.
Communication is often referred to as a two-way street. An exchange of ideas or information between two people. Public speaking on the other hand could be, and mostly is, one way. Meant to inform, influence or maybe even entertain a group of people on a specific topic, public speaking is arguably more challenging. The onus rests squarely on the speaker to both engage the audience as well as deliver the message in a compelling yet simple manner.
There is some, rather humorous, references to how people fear public speaking more than they would creepy crawlies or snakes!! While that may not be entirely based on fact, there can be no denying that most of us are not very comfortable speaking in front of an audience. This is where the Toastmasters club steps in as the beacon of hope.
A warm, supportive community of aspiring speakers, this international organization has become the go-to for improving and perfecting your professional and personal communication skills. Operating under a global mandate, the club provides you numerous curated opportunities to prepare and present speeches and receive constructive feedback. The interactive environment is both fun and conducive to continued learning. Weekly meetings run a comprehensive and diverse set of events that cater to both the uninitiated and the seasoned speaker.
I stumbled onto Toastmasters quite unaccidentally, one that I am glad for. Nudged into joining the neighboring club by a dear friend, the concept intrigued me at the beginning. An outspoken, confident, friendly person and a teacher to boot, I never thought that there was much to public speaking. I could not have been more wrong!!
The toastmasters club has become an integral part of my life now. Saturday afternoons are something I now look forward to with much anticipation. While I have never had any trepidation about speaking in public, I had previously largely ignored the nuances or the etiquette that would render me an effective speaker.
At Toastmaster, not only did I learn how to give effective presentations, but also inculcated various related skills as well. Active listening & impromptu speaking help me be a better communicator in all situations. Giving and receiving evaluations is a critical skill that has assisted me with any negotiations I conduct. Most importantly, all of these cumulate into leadership skills, how to lead and manage oneself well in any given situation.
As each of us steadily work to improve these essential elements of communication and leadership at every meeting, one notices the spill-over to personal and professional lives. Stretching from those critical business negotiations for hundreds of thousands to getting your teen to clean up his/her room, the art of communication is an asset we all need. So, what are you waiting for?
- Usha Vijayakumar