Keith Boss introduced us all to the Toastmaster’s Club. He vehemently talked about it in his posts and during his visit down here. Manohar of Pune then put in some more light on the Toastmasters by joining it, and uploading some of his videos. All this added to the curiosity, and with the help of our new-age genie (google), I found out about the whereabouts of the Goa Toastmasters club. Yesterday, I and Rahul attended the Toastmaster’s meeting as guest participants. And what was experienced, was more then what we expected! My impression about Toastmasters was that the members meet, come prepared with some speeches, talk, and then decide the best speech for the day. But a Toastmaster’s meet is much more then just giving speeches. It is a serious business carried out with fun and frolic. A Toastmasters Club is about excelling in Public Speaking, and not public speaking alone! It’s about excelling in the other aspects of public speaking as well. Like the time limit, the grammar, the flow and the quality of the speech. The meeting starts with the President addressing the members and the guests. Then the guests introduce themselves and tell the crowd what brings them here. Rahul and I (I hate gloating about myself 😉 ) did a pretty good job with introduction. We also spoke about TISA during the intro. This was Rahul’s first public speaking experience ever. And he did very well. The President then introduces the “Toastmaster of the day”. This is the person who comperes the rest of the meeting. Then there are roles played by various members. There is a “Timer”, a “Grammarian”, a “Ah-counter”, and a team of evaluators. The timer keeps a check on the time limits allowed for each speaker in all the events of the meeting. The Grammarian introduces the theme of the day, and then also notes down the new words or phrases used by members. He also points a few grammatical and phonetic mistakes. The Ah-counter, (and this is really an interesting one) keeps a check on the fillers like “aah”, “well”, “I mean…” used by speakers. The evaluators, off course evaluate the speeches for the day. There were two major events. The prepared speeches (termed as the Projects) by the members and the Table topics (impromptu speeches). The guests could also volunteer to participate in the Table Topics. I volunteered to participate. The table topic round was an interesting one. There were around 9 to 10 participants. The topic chosen for the day was story telling. The first participant starts the story and the next participant has to carry it forward. Each participant can talk for upto 2 mins. Only the last participant can end the story. I was the second in row to speak in this event. I raked all my creative thoughts and carried the story forward. The members were very warm and encouraging to both of us. The president (a psychotherapist by profession) was encouraging both of us. She also told us that when she was in Kuwait, she had a mentor in Toastmasters there, who had a severe stutter. “But it didn’t bother him… That is most important” She said. The president was even kind enough to say that she would love to attend one of our SHG meeting. Time just whizzed by, and we both enjoyed the meeting to the fullest. We both also gave a farewell speech. Toastmasters is much more then just speaking. It’s about communication skills at large. Time-bound speeches are one of the primary focuses. And then there are leadership skills to be learned by taking in roles like that of the Timer, Evaluator or the Ah-counter. Some of the activities could also be done in the SHGs too. The great deal of confidence within us, was the biggest take-away we both got while our way back to our homes.