What is the second biggest fear in the world? Death.
What is the biggest fear in the world? Public Speaking!
It is true, dear readers, that public speaking is feared more than death. However, the good news is that this fear can be conquered. In fact, I am living proof of the fact that the fear and nervousness can be channelized and used as positive energy when speaking in front of a crowd. Why do people like to speak in public? Is it only to deliver presentations, speak up during meetings, or present lectures? Surely not. People learn the art of speaking and use it in their day-to-day lives. It helps us prevent the awkward silence when we get on the elevator with the president of the company. It also helps us carry on a conversation when we meet a potential significant other at a social setting. As a matter of fact, communication goes even further. Being a good communicator involves being a good listener, and understanding the crucial message that people are trying to deliver every time they talk.
Why am I telling you all this? Because Texas A&M University provides us with the opportunity to be affiliated with one of the most influential organizations of the world in the field of public speaking. Toastmasters International has been building communicators and leaders since the 1920s. People deliver talks on different aspects of public speaking and practice different areas of leadership in this wonderful organization, and as we all know, there is no better learning than practice. The chapter associated with our school, Aggie Toastmasters, is especially amazing because not only do the members have the Toastmasters Spirit, they also have the Fighting Texas Aggie Spirit, and this makes for a deadly combination.
The members of this fantastic club come from academic different departments, speak multiple languages, hail from multiple countries, and have unique experiences. This club has true unity in diversity. In addition, the club is full of fun and energy. People consider the club their safe space and, as a result, they remain their true selves when they go on stage to speak. People are genuine, nice and ALWAYS supportive. Moreover, every member is genuinely interested in helping their fellow members learn and thus provides honest and extremely supportive feedback.
My favorite portion of the meetings are not the “Prepared Speech” or the “Evaluation” segments. What I enjoy most is the section called “Table Topics”. This is the portion where any topic under the sun is provided and the speaker has to speak on it for one to two minutes. I was petrified when I heard the concept for the first time but I can honestly say that this is one of the most fun things to do. I have a friend by the name of Sumit who has the supreme ability to tackle any topic given to him and turn it around to his dream of reducing pollution and saving the world. He is one of the most hilarious speakers around.
Last week, Aggie Toastmasters celebrated Halloween. This Halloween themed meeting was not only fun in terms of special Halloween themed costumes but also included goodies, cupcakes and food brought by the members. Club President Lindsey also ensured that the table topics included Halloween in all its questions. Members played charades with a twist. They had to describe monsters without actually saying their names, and the audience ended up guessing the current names every time. It was a lot of fun not only for us but also for our mascot, Toastie, who was, as usual, dressed in his adorable bow tie.
The reason I am talking so passionately about Toastmasters is that I am a convert. I was always skeptical about these clubs that meet to talk but when I spent a year at my first Toastmasters Club in Singapore, I became a more confident public speaker and a more mature person. Then, after realizing the greatness of Toastmasters, I was scared of leaving my club in Singapore. I had made lifelong friends there. Would Texas A&M University have a good enough Toastmasters club? I came to the school and went to the club, expecting an unimpressive meeting. However, what I saw made me realize that I love Aggie Toastmasters and that is the reason that, no matter what tests, assignments, or meetings I have, I always make it a point to attend the meetings. Therefore, I encourage you, dear reader, to also attend the meetings and experience the magic for yourself. We meet on Wednesdays from 5.30 pm to 6.30 pm at Rudder 410. If you need to know more about the experience, feel free to email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org
or call me @ (346) 814-0959 and I will tell you more about it. Happy Halloween to all!
Arjun Chakrabarti | MBA
is an MBA student with an intense love for music, travel, scuba diving, tattoos and public speaking.