By Tanmay Sarkar – My first trip to Toastmasters
From childhood, I feared public speaking. In school I refused to stand on stage during morning assembly, special occasions, and certainly not to speak. I always feared what my friends and classmates would think. What if I forgot the words? What if my classmates started laughing? These questions popped into my mind every time I got close to that stage. I never felt the importance of public speaking and therefore I avoided the situation entirely.
Once I started college, I found myself lagging behind my colleagues socially speaking. I could not even introduce myself to a small bunch of students although my university hosted events, cultural programs and a variety of clubs. I avoided others and concentrated on my studies.
How can I utilize my technical skills if I cannot present them in a professional manner? How can I land an engineering job if I cannot portray how I can help an employer? I decided to overcome this problem at any cost. I do not want to live my life regretting these important skills. How?
How can I learn to overcome my fear?
Recently, I found a mentor on LinkedIn named Mr. Thomas A. Anderson. He started a group called ESRG (Engineering Students and Recent Graduates). Thomas spends his free time guiding young engineers toward their dreams. He highly recommended I join Toastmasters. On September 8, I attended my first meeting. I was beyond nervous. As I entered, the senior members shook my hand and directed me to the guest row. After a few other speeches, it was my turn to give an introduction. I read directly from my notes without expressions, proper posture, and with a monotone voice. Once I finished everyone clapped and I returned to my seat. During the meeting, I noticed that some spoke very well while others who were new like me were nervous. The members of the Toastmaster group always clapped no matter how good or bad the speech.
Toastmasters is a great place. They always cheer and clap for you. They will give you feedback to help address your faults and build your confidence. I found the right place to improve my soft skills. With the help of toastmasters and some dedication, I will be able to win the battle against my fear of public speaking.
Written By Tanmay Sarkar and Thomas A. Anderson, P.E. from the ESRG Group!