District 41 Toastmasters

Beyond the Speech

I often hear people say that one’s formative years lay the foundation for who they will become in the future. I was born in a small town in Haryana, and throughout my childhood, I was very quiet. We lived in a commercial area with few houses, and my mother always emphasized my studies and indoor activities since I had few friends in the area. This became the norm for me. I attended the same school for 14 years, from kindergarten to the 12th grade, and had very few friends there. I rarely participated in events or sports, which are equally important for personal growth. Looking back, I feel guilty for not working on my public speaking skills earlier.

Parents always do their best with what they have learned from their own lives, and for my parents, education and grades were the main priorities for leading a good life.

Things didn’t change much for me when I began my studies at the University of Delhi. I made a few friends who were equally studious, and we learned about various clubs and extracurricular activities available. I attempted to join multiple clubs but was unsuccessful. Most of my time was spent studying or commuting.

The turning point came when I started working at a multinational firm at the age of 21. Most people my age were smart, had good public speaking skills, and graduated from prestigious colleges. Initially, I was thrilled to work with a renowned brand and be financially independent. However, my happiness was short-lived; within a few months, I realized I couldn’t compete with my peers. This made me understand the importance of communication and public speaking skills.

For a long time in my career, I felt dejected and depressed, despite outward appearances suggesting otherwise. However, I knew I had to make a change. Through research, I discovered the Toastmasters community. Attending my first meeting as a guest, I knew it was exactly what I needed. It’s been 1.5 years since joining Toastmasters, and I’m immensely grateful for how it has helped me grow in my career. Here are some key lessons I’ve learned:

It’s all about practice
No matter how many books you read or videos you watch, facing your fear of public speaking only comes through practice. Toastmasters provides a supportive environment where mistakes are welcomed, helping me confidently participate in meetings or events at work. Improvement only comes through effort, regardless of performance.

No one cares
The fear of public speaking often stems from the fear of judgment, but in reality, most people want you to succeed. Through Toastmasters, I’ve learned that feedback is readily given when asked for. With experience, I’ve realized that a poor performance won’t lead to dire consequences, so why fear it?

Everyone is different
My childhood insecurity was being quiet and not perceived as fun. I used to believe that extroverts were superior, but through Toastmasters, I’ve learned that success isn’t limited to personality types. Embracing my true self, I’ve found that leadership and speaking ability matter more than personality.

Mentorship and networking
Toastmasters has provided me with valuable mentors and the opportunity to meet new people at every meeting, expanding my horizons and making me more comfortable interacting with clients and colleagues.

Toastmasters has been life-changing for me, and I continue to improve every day. I extend my gratitude to everyone who has helped me become a better person.

Vidushi Madan
Member, Eloquest Toastmasters Club