District 41 Toastmasters

The Butterflies Stay

“The butterflies don’t go away!”. Those are the only words that weren’t a part of my speech I can recall uttering on the day of the contest.

The Toastmaster to my right nodded in approval. I don’t even remember who it was. All I wanted was some validation. Because yes, speaking is difficult. Speaking at a competition apparently takes it a level up.

I’ve delivered some speeches in my life. Definitely more than I could count with my fingers. But sitting there, waiting for the contest chair to announce my name so I could go on stage and get it done was excruciating. I wondered why that was the case. Is it the fear of going blank? The fear of crashing expectations? Or the fear of exams?

I’m not sure yet. But here is something I do know: these butterflies will not go away!

The butterflies are bound to stay and I know they will come back time and again. However, us Toastmasters are privileged to have a stage we call home that allows us to craft a specific skill. A skill to tame the butterflies. To befriend them. To recognize their presence and to let them flutter in their own ecosystem.

The International Speech Contest at Shangrila Toastmasters Club (Area A2) was definitely an eye opening experience. Having been a Toastmasters for a collective period of 2 and half years, I had neither attended nor participated in a speech competition. I did not know what to expect and what I experienced, I had not expected.

The day felt like a mountain of a test. The test of patience, commitment and sheer will to make it through; to finish off the speech well aligned with the wave of the red flag. And, to walk back to your seat while the hall claps in awe. No, I’m not talking about myself. The highlight of this experience for me was the absolute dedication shown by every single participant.

In all my time as a Toastmaster, I’ve never felt an ounce of an unhealthy competition at any of the meetings. As passionate as this particular contest evening was, every single speaker wanted to do the best for themselves. For the first time in my life, I could see and sense a group of people who wanted to give “the best speech of their lives”. And this didn’t have to be anything humongous to anybody. It just needed to be a speech that’s a culmination of everything they’ve learnt during their time, through their
evaluators and mentors.

The hall, too, felt different that day. We thought we knew every nook and cranny of the stage. It turned out to be different as other Toastmasters from different clubs across the city came together to witness the competition. This was bizarre but encouraging at the same time. When you see people of the same fraternity you have never seen before come together in a certain moment in history, it is a sight to behold.

As the dust settles on this historic evening, participants have poured their hearts out, the winners have been chosen and echoes of applause have faded but the butterflies still remain. “The butterflies don’t go away!”. As I had exclaimed earlier, the whole experience has brought to a realization that those fluttering nerves are an inseparable part of our Toastmaster journey.

They remain as a testament to our wonderful journey, always ready to flutter through another story, another opportunity to deliver the best speech of one’s life.

The spirit of Toastmasters soars high, as always, fueled by the anticipation of future challenges and the unwavering commitment to personal and collective growth. The butterflies, though persistent, are not adversaries; they are companions in our quest for continuous improvement and excellence.

Saheel Baral
Shangrila Toastmasters Club