SPEAK OUT Monthly Newsletter of Chennai Toastmasters Club February 201 3
OTP Time Management
TM & MBA TM Roadmap
Ruby Hall, Presidency Club, Commander-in-Chief Road, Egmore, Chennai 6001 05 www.chennaitoastmasters.com
Editors’Note 11 contributors spread across 3 cities in 2 countries, 25+ phone calls, 1 00+ emails, countless hours of exciting work – just like every CTM newsletter, these are what made the concept of the February 201 3 Speak Out a reality. As we set out the journey, we decided to experiment with a different format for the newsletter. As you are aware, we decided to have a theme for the newsletter – Leadership. Based on the skills and experience of the leaders and wanna-be-leaders in CTM (and other clubs), we requested each of the contributors to write on a specific topic. All of them instantly agreed, and the result is what you are reading now. There are 1 0 articles in the newsletter, each examining different aspects of leadership. TM Sadayappan shares his thoughts on perhaps the most controversial questions of all time – Are leaders born or made? DTM Saro Velrajan and TM Sakthi Prasanna explain two aspects of personal leadership – time management and preparation, respectively. On team leadership, TM Sudha Rajesh provides important mentoring nuggets – both for the mentor and the mentee. Leadership in CTM – DTM Kartik Srinivasan highlights some of the challenges CTM is facing, and how members can convert it into boundless opportunities, while Immediate Past President TM Thanigeaswara shares how conducting the Officers’ Training Programme(OTP) helped in honing his leadership skills. TM Deepa Bharatkumar explains her experience in evaluation contest and her learnings about giving feedback. DTM Aditya Maheshwaran and TM Anjaneya Sasthry provide insights about how the TM experience can be applied in outside world. Aditya answers some of the common questions about how TM experience can be leveraged for job interviews and MBA admissions. Anjaneya applies his TM skills in the leadership development in kids – catch them young. Finally, TM Madhavan Nampoothiri shares his Leadership development roadmap for the next 6 months – both for Competent Communication Track and Competent Leadership Track. As Editors, we thoroughly enjoyed the creation of this newsletter. We hope we have done a decent job. It is for you to decide. Please send your feedback or evaluation (in TM parlance)- good, bad or ugly - to us through mail or phone. We will collect your feedback and share it with the next editorial team, so that they can build upon our work. Cheers!! Anjaneya Sastry K
Madhavan Nampoothiri 2
SPEAK OUT - February 201 3 Contents Editors’Note...................................................................................................................................2 From the President’s Desk............................................................................................................4 Message from the VP – Public Relations......................................................................................6 1 . Born Leaders : A myth...............................................................................................................7 TM Sadayappan
2. Your Time is With You................................................................................................. ..9 DTM Saro Velrajan
3. Better prepared mind is best equipped to handle surprises......................................................1 0 By TM Sakthi Prasanna 4. Mentoring nuggets.....................................................................................................................1 2 TM Sudha Rajesh 5. Leading To Leadership .....................................................................................................1 4 DTM Kartik Srinivasan
6. My experience in conducting Officer’s Training Programme ........ .................................1 6 TM Thanigeaswara Kalappan
7. Evaluation Experience.................. .....................................................................................1 8 TM Deepa Bharatkumar 8. Leveraging Toastmasters during Interviews, MBA admissions & Career Growth .... .................1 9 DTM Aditya Maheshwaran
9. Catch Them Young!!....................... ......................................................................................22 TM Anjaneya Sastry 1 0.A Roadmap for my Toastmasters journey....... ....................................................................23 TM Madhavan Nampoothiri
From the Presidentâ€™s Desk
It has been almost a month since the newly-elected Executive Committee was sworn into office, and yet my first opportunity to write in the Speak-Out newsletter in the capacity of the 1 7th President of Chennai Toastmasters Club - I still feel as privileged and honoured as I did on the day I was elected, but my pride has multiplied manifold. What an eventful month it has been! We started with our very own Big Bang! The stupendous 375th meeting was a grand celebration of all the wonderful memories that Chennai Toastmasters have created and the milestones they have achieved. The Executive Committee met shortly thereafter and has chalked out their vision and action plan for the next months - I believe we have already begun to see their efforts. With the help of our hard-working dream-team of an Executive Committee, we have already organised four exemplary club meetings. I am proud to report that all of the newly elected officers attended the Officers Training Programme and are now ready and trained to unleash their potential over their tenure of six months. This has earned our Club credit towards the Distinguished Club Program and the Golden Gavel. It is only just January, and we have already earned 9 out of 1 0 credits towards these programmes! All this in one month! And we have so much to look forward to!
First and foremost, the club-level International Speech and Table Topics Contests on February 24th, 201 3 - Toastmaster Selvabharathi has taken up the challenge to lead this event in the capacity of Contest Chair. Chennai Toastmasters Club contests are always one of the highest quality and toughest-fought speech contests in the Toastmasters fraternity. If you have never witnessed one, you are in for a spectacular treat! Have you registered as a contestant yet? What exactly are you waiting for? In my inaugural address I said that the priority for this term is going to be the service of the newer members. Nearly 80% of our members have not yet completed their Project 5 in the Competent Communication manual. Many do not yet feel confident enough to deliver their Ice-Breaker or first meeting role. Our VPE has already started tracking and monitoring membersâ€™ progress - new members, stand by for some innovative initiatives to help you progress through your manuals! And last but not the least; we can focus on member satisfaction and quality meetings. My vision is to position the club such that earning that last but elusive DCP point should not be a cause for worry. Another favourite excerpt from my inaugural address:
I believe that if we continu e to expect nothing but the best of ourselves and continue to work hard,
we can continue to be the Lighthouse Club of Chennai. In my day-dreams, I see Chennai Toastmasters winning shiny trophies amidst thunderous applause, and I see Chennai Toastmasters blazing new trails at the highest levels of leadership. Amen!
TM Deepa Bharatkumar President, Chennai Toastmasters Club She is a Principal Architect and Partner at Architecture By Design
Message from VP - Public Relations The purpose of a speaker is to effectively convey a message to the audience in a room. The purpose of a Public Relation officer is also the same. But the audience is the entire world. How effective the PR conveys a positive message to the public is how good job he is doing? Now you might be wondering why I am saying all this things. There is a reason because; it is a great opportunity for you to grab the editor of the next monthâ€™s newsletter. The leadership skill the editor role provides is tremendous. It cannot be expressed in words only experience. How many numbers of people you will be contacting? How tactfully you get articles from them? How to follow-up gently? It is definitely an art one has to master. Not only that, it will also take you one step higher in completing the CL â€“ Competent Leadership Manual. (Project 6 or Project 1 0 of CL) So, those who are reading this article and are willing to experience that ride. Quickly send me email, message me or call. Thank you.
TM Bharat Raja, Vice President - Public Relations Chennai Toastmasters Club Bharat is currently a Masters of Engineering student at Anna University, Guindy
1 . Born Leaders : A myth – TM Sadayappan The fundamental and the most basic question that all of us have in our mind about leadership is ‘Are leaders born or made?’ This is one of the hottest topics in leadership studies since Platonic days. But if we start believing that leaders are born then we stop giving attention to our personal development. If we start believing that leadership is a natural instinct then we stop achieving our true potential. If we start believing that leadership is in the blood then we stop believing in ourselves. Long back, I too believed in the myth that leaders are born and leadership is in the blood. When I was second year in college, I wished to contest the elections for post of ‘Hostel Representative’. But I hastily withdrew my nominations the very next day I filed it, as I was not confident enough of taking up the being the representative of some 1 00 hot young bloods. I told to myself that ‘I am not fit to be a leader’. In my third year in college, I had developed some confidence and stood in the election for the post of ‘Secretary of Chemistry department’ and I won it too. (Mainly because it wasn’t a lucrative post and I was the only one who had filed the nomination for the post). Nevertheless I was happy. Soon the reality struck me. My fellow office bearers were hardly to be seen in any of the meetings. Most of the meetings I was the only attendee. And when the time came for me to lead my team to work the biggest academic contest, I found myself in a difficult position. Nobody volunteered to take any responsibility for the contest preparation. I cajoled, pleaded and even forced my team to put a decent show if not a great one for the contest but without any avail. The result was obvious. I had to face the wrath of my Professors and Seniors (who had done a ‘clean-sweep’ in the contest the previous year). And again I told to myself that ‘I am not fit to be a leader’. I stopped any further experiments with leadership and told myself that leaders are born and not made. You might have predicted what might come next in the article. Yes, I had to change my opinion when I joined Toastmasters. Very soon after joining Toastmasters I understood that leadership is just another skill that can be learned if we are willing to learn. I embraced the learning whole heartedly. I started understanding that leadership skills are hidden behind every single role that we do in Toastmasters. I had to just look for it and learn it. Be it Timer or President or Mentor, all the roles provide opportunities for us to learn from the necessary skills to become a good leader. It is worthy of mentioning an important lesson I learnt when I was the VP-Public Relations of CTM and when Rajesh Natarajan was the President of the club. Rajesh was appreciative and encouraging of even the silliest thing that I tried to do. Every time Rajesh introduced me to the new members of the club or to visiting senior members from other clubs, Rajesh use to list what activities that I did for the club and he said how proud he was to have a great team. He never took any credit for himself and generously credited all the achievements of the club as the team’s work rather than his work. These gestures, consciously or unconsciously made me work more for the club. The lesson that I had learned during the days with Rajesh was ‘Make your team members feel important’.
Once I had an open mind a number of lessons followed. I learnt ‘How to delegate jobs to others?’ from Saro, ‘How to be humble and yet be a leader ?’ from Prabha, ‘How enthusiasm and cheerfulness is important for a leader?’ from Arna Chugani, ‘How dedication is a must for a leader ?’ from Thanigeaswaran, ‘How confidence is a must for a leader ?’ from Kartik and the list continues. I no more tell myself ‘I am not fit to be a leader’. I no more believe that leaders are born. What I now believe is that Leaders are made. Made in Toastmasters !!!
TM Sadayappan has done his BE in Computer Science. He is currently working as 'Senior Systems Analyst' in Reflexis Systems UK Ltd. He is married to Mrs. Meena Devi and blessed with a little girl. He lives in Basingstoke, UK. He has been one of the most active TMs when he was in India
2 . Your Time is With You – DTM Saro Velrajan "I don't have the time to write my next speech!"
This is the response that I get from ne w toastmasters when I ask them "It has been months since you gave a speech in our club meetings. What happened?".
"Everyone on this planet is given the same 24 hours in the day. The question is: what do you choose to do with yours?”. All of the self help books tell the same thing and the chances are, you might've already tried some of those things and given up already! - Getting up early in the morning [You] I come back from office at only 8 or 9 o'clock. By the time I have dinner, and spend some time with the family.. it becomes 1 0 o'clock. I watch some TV, and browse some Internet and it becomes 1 2. How can I get up early then? - Maintain a task list [You] It looks awkward to carry a task list everywhere. It alienates me from my friends - Time your activities [You] It
DTM Saro Velrajan: Former President, Man behind the growth of many new divisions, Epitome of leadership, mentor to many. Currently he works as Director - Technology at Aricent Group .
3 . Better prepared mind is best equipped to handle surprises – TM Sakthi Prasanna As I write this piece, I’m wondering if I’m eligible to write an article on better planning and implementing efficiently as requested by our senior Toastmaster and ever energetic Anjaneya Kantheti. I’m a person who has always lived at the last moment. Till the trigger is pulled and the bullet comes out I won’t move. For the sheer interest in wanting to become a good planner, I accepted to write this article. As I crossed the most important age barrier of late twenties from a boy and entered into the gateway of a man into 30s the first thing I thought is geeOI should become more responsible from now on. Can a dog’s tail be straightened in a day..no way!! I always go late to the office, meetings, catching up with friends, still the rigmorale continues ..sometimes, no most of the times I will always be left with frustration and guilt when I mess up with the time because it affects other people who I gave a commitment.
Well planned is half the job done! I have seen many meticulous planners in corporate, family, sports, etc. I never heard them failed..There is something about planning and implementing efficiently! One follows the other. You plan well first and then implementing efficiently is a natural process. There are so many examples that even after you plan better, you mess up in implementing the plan. But who doesn’t fail..it is always better to fail after great planning than to fail without planning at all. The world is ruled and run by great planners like it or not. I’m not talking about the leaders at the helm, they may be or may be not great planners..but the people behind or under them ensure that their leader plans and implements efficiently.
Planners are Aliens! This is how I always related to them. Since aliens are always stronger than mankind (atleast that’s what they show in movies) we all can become aliens too. How planners are different from normal human beings? That is the level of difference between a successful person and not so successful person. Women are better planners than men because they don’t have a choice. They have to manage the household, take care of the children and family, etc. Men mostly plan regarding the work but very less for the family! I’m a great cricket fan like every other Indian..please excuse me if you are not one. Again like every Indian, i’m one of the biggest fans of Sachin Tendulkar. He is one of the best batsmen the world has ever seen. Why is he the best? Ofcourse he is a god gifted talent. But the story doesn’t end there. He is a successful player because he plans his every innings. Before he walks into the field, he has a clear plan against the opposition and against each bowler. After his innings is over, he goes to the recording of his game and see what is missing in his game.
If there is a correction needs to be done, he will ensure that is done and he is a better player next time when he enters the field again. This he does every single time. No wonder why is he considered as one of the greats of the game. What it takes to be a successful man or a woman? I feel the secret lies in planningOJust imagine this, every morning you wake up, list out the number of activities you need to do for the day and at particular time. Once you are done with it, you go about doing the activities planned for the day with integrity. Ofcourse, you may not be able to complete all the tasks you have planned and the way you have planned but at the end of the day you will retire to bed as a satisfied human being. Before sleep, you have got to done one thing. Analyse how you went about doing the activities, see what you accomplished and what you havenâ€™t and see how we can improve on those things next time..these small steps on a continuous basis make you a leader one day. Because better prepared mind is
best equipped to handle surprises.
TM Sakthi Prasanna is the Vice President - Education at Chennai Toastmasters Club. He works as a Senior Account Manager at MSL India.
4. Mentoring nuggets – TM Sudha Rajesh When a speaker delivers a spectacular speech and also wins a ribbon or a trophy for the performance, everyone immediately appreciates the speaker and admires his speaking skills. Even though it is the speaker’s efforts that win him accolades, there is a small contribution from his mentor that led to the victory. Every speaker who has won the International Championship has attributed the success to the efforts of the man behind the scene – his mentor. So, the role or the responsibility of a mentor is very crucial. What are those responsibilities? 1. Make it very clear to the prodigy (referred to as mentee) that he must send the script at least one week before the speech. There should be some time to practice the speech after it is reviewed by the mentor. 2. As soon as the script arrives, check for the ingredients. What are those ingredients? a. Does this speech subject fulfill all the objectives of the current speech? b. Does the script fulfill the objectives of the previous projects? c. Has the mentee drafted the script keeping in mind the feedback given by the evaluators of the previous projects? d. What is the total word count? Is it sufficient for the allotted time or does it need any change? e. Is the script suitable for the speaker’s strengths? Will this speech allow the speaker to capitalize his strengths to the maximum possible extent? f. Is the script written from the audience point of view? How will the listeners receive it? g. What else can be added or changed to increase the effectiveness of the speech? 3. After checking for the above essential ingredients, suggest the suitable changes and send it immediately. 4. Meet the mentee in person if required to discuss the changes. 5. Finally, on the day of the speech, closely observe the speaker’s performance and note down both the best ones and blunders and offer it to the mentee when requested. 6. Ask your mentee to talk to the evaluator in person after the meeting to get more information. The evaluator gives only partial feedback due to time constraint. Talking to the evaluator after the meeting helps the speaker build a bond with the evaluator and also learn many other aspects that the evaluator noticed but couldn’t share it during the evaluation. 7. Ask your mentee to obtain feedback from two or three other senior members about his performance. 8. Suggest your mentee to give speeches in front of different types of audience in various clubs. Getting comfortable with a set of audience gives one an impression that one has overcome the fear of public speaking. 9. Always motivate your mentee. Be positive in your feedback. It should be constructive and not negative.
That is just one half of the entire picture. The other half of the responsibility lies on the mentee’s shoulders. What can a mentee do to make his speech an outstanding one? 1. Start preparing the script well in advance and not too close to the date of the speech. 2. Send it to the mentor at least a week or 1 0 days before the speech. 3. Allow the mentor some time to review. Do not pressurize him. 4. Talk to the mentor over phone or meet him in person to discuss the changes. 5. After the script is reviewed, spend enough time practicing the speech. Focus more on your areas of improvement. Put in your best, genuine efforts. 6. On the day of speech, meet the evaluator before the speech and ask him to focus on specific areas which you wish to improve. 7. After the evaluator’s report, meet him in person to learn about other aspects of your speech that were not told during the evaluation. 8. Meet your mentor after the speech and get his feedback. 9. Talk to a couple other senior toastmasters and get their feedback. 1 0. Work honestly on the areas of improvement suggested by the mentor and evaluator on your next project. That’s it. With all this organized preparation, you will rock.
TM Sudha Rajesh is a training Consultant. She is the active mentor of the month.
5. Leading To Leadership – DTM Kartik Srinivasan Fellow Toastmasters & Friends! Toastmasters is Where Leaders are MadeO and year after year, Chennai Toastmasters has produced several high quality Leaders. Chennai Toastmasters has time and again produced Leaders at all levels and all wakes of life, both within and outside Toastmasters fraternity. Chennai Toastmasters has continuously produced Leaders in the form of Role Players in Club/Area/Division/District level events; in the form of Club/Area/Division and the No. 1 District Officer position. YES! Chennai Toastmasters has given meaning and purpose to the tag-line of Toastmasters – Where Leaders are Made! Not everyone is born with the ability to lead, yet everyone can develop their leadership effectiveness. Leadership is essentially a quality that can be nurtured and developed. In Chennai Toastmasters, we provide every single member the opportunity to develop his/her leadership qualities by various means. Starting from taking on different roles and responsibilities such as Timer, Ah Counter, Grammarian, Evaluator, TMOD, TT Master, the opportunities expand to Website Creation & Designing/Release of Newsletter, and taking on the running of the Club by assuming Leadership positions in the Executive Committee of the Club every term. The starting point of such development lies in your ‘commitment’. Are you ready to commit yourself to a journey of self-development? If the answer is ‘Yes’, I SALUTE YOU! Till the end of last month, Division ‘G’ stood tall as the leading Division in District 82 – 33 Club strong where every Area, Club & Member strived relentlessly to better themselves and the Division. Since its inception, the Division has produced hundreds of Leaders dedicated to the cause of ‘mutually supportive’ environment for learning and development. At any given point, we can look back at our history with pride with a sense of achievement and accomplishment. YES, we have been successful this far and we have stamped our success on the TMI map by producing three Divisions out of the one Division ‘G’! While this is a GREAT achievement, what we have to constantly bear in mind is the fact that effective 01 st July 201 2, Division ‘G’ is no longer the ‘leading’ Division of District 82! We are only a third of what we were a few weeks back, just 1 2 Clubs to our name! This fact brings with it a huge opportunity; the opportunity to introspect, the opportunity to consolidate & the opportunity to re-build. This is an opportunity for every single one of us to bring out our fullest potential as a Communicator & as a Leader, by adding more Clubs to our Area/Division, by adding more Members to every Club and by progressing on our own individual development by achieving more Educational goals. The journey, my friends, has just begun!
The joy of any journey comes in the sharing and caring, and that comes out of a sense of belonging. While in Division ‘G’, we have always grown with that sense of belonging, the purpose of ‘SiGnature’, your new Division ‘G’ Monthly Magazine is to enhance and nurture that sense of belonging, that of sharing and caring, to a much higher level. With our daily busy lives, it is not practical for us to meet one another regularly, not even through mail, phone calls or text messages, with our doubts, problems and queries. SiGnature is intended to provide that additional platform for the entire Division to meet with their deliberations and doubts; & together we move forward to build a stronger Division ‘G’. To quote ‘Habit 6’ of ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen R Covey, “Synergize – Combine the strengths of people through positive teamwork, so as to achieve goals no one person could have done alone”. Cheers!
DTM Kartik Srinivasan: Current division Governor.Former President. Man who needs no introduction, who has most number of mentees in TM.
6. My experience in conducting Officer’s Training Programme – TM Thanigeaswara Kalappan I recently got an opportunity from our division to organize the officer’s training program (OTP). Officers training program is conducted twice a year to give training to the newly elected officers of the club to perform their roles efficiently. Training Sessions are conducted for all the 7 officer roles (President, VPE, VPM, VPPR, Secretary, Treasurer, Sergeant@Arms ). Any member who is interested to know about the leadership roles in the club can participate. It is conducted at the division level. Lots of leadership lessons from the experienced toastmasters regarding how one can perform the roles effectively and efficiently. The tips provided here can be put into action in our official and personal life. It seems like a small event but the learning’s one can have are immense. First we have to find a venue suitable for our budget, seating for all the attendees, location. TM Vivekanandhan(CSF) through his reference introduced me to the “Institute of company secretaries” management and then we got the venue. Then the important one, we have to invite all the office bearers of all the clubs under our division. For any event crowd is very important, so we started our campaign in the facebook & sent individual mails to all the office bearers. We created a registration form using google docs and requested all the attendees to use it. In the initial days of our campaign, the registrations were low, so we requested the area governors to act fast. Then the registrations came. With that count in proportion we ordered for the snacks which prevented wastage or scarcity at the event. More than 11 0+ members attended the event. Next we gunned for the trainers and MC’s who can take the session well. Then we ordered for the mementos, bouquets etc. On the day prior to the event, we have informed the attender that he has to present at the venue by 8:30 AM. Also we have sent sms to all the registered attendees requesting them to present at the venue on time. On the day of the event we had arrived earlier to the place and stick the relevant hoardings for registration and session names at the appropriate places. Then we have to check the projectors, mic etc in the two halls. We have to start the session at the earliest and prior to the break, we have to bring in the snacks. Then we have to take care of its supply to all the attendees. Then again we have to start the session in time.
Then we have to recognize all the people who have contributed for the event at the end. Then we have to vacate the place in a clean manner. This seems like a small event but the exposure and contacts you will get are enormous. Now we know that with this budget we can organize this event efficiently. A mini project had been executed successfully. Nowhere can you get these type of opportunities. Communication & Leadership go hand in hand.
TM Thanigeaswara: Very dedicated and honest leader. Scaling new heights in his leadership journey. He is presently a Senior Technical Lead at HCL Technologies
7 . Evaluation Experience â€“ TM Deepa Bharatkumar If you have ever attended a Toastmasters meeting, then you have witnessed the power of a Speech Evaluation in live action - in 2 - 3 minutes, the speakers gain a huge dollop of much-needed validation of their strengths, get very specific bite-sized tips on what they can do make their next speech better than their last, and return from the meeting feeling motivated to speak again and implement the evaluator's tips. Needless to say, an evaluation can make or break a speaker - a 'bad' evaluation could leave the speaker feeling frustrated and demotivated: the speaker may never attempt public speaking again. A 'good' evaluation, on the other hand, can, in the long run, develop a speaker into a confident and eloquent stage presence by developing strengths and overcoming weaknesses. This puts the evaluator in an extremely powerful yet emotionally and intellectually challenging role, and it was precisely this power and challenge that appeals to me. Little did I expect that participating in an Evaluations Contest for the first time ever would take me into the prestigious and coveted District-level contest! It was thrilling to be rubbing shoulders with the elite class of District-level evaluators, but can you imagine the plight of a novice evaluator on that dias? What was I doing there?At each step I had to remind myself 'I am here because I am a good evaluator'. 'I am here because I deserve to be here'. 'I am here because I have worked hard to get here' - and so on. On Contest Day I did not win the trophy - but I am neither disillusioned nor discouraged. It seemed to me that from the minute I entered into the club-level contest until the moment the District-level winners were announced, I was in an Evaluations whirlpool. In my mind, I was evaluating every word that fell upon my eardrums. My mentors, fellow-contestants and supporters were prepping and pepping me along. As if in a frenzy, I was coming up with new formats and tables and charts and methods for speech evaluation and testing what worked best. The Contests are long gone, and so is the fervour of that season. What remains to this day is a wealth of knowledge about speech evaluation gained in an extremely compact time-interval, the rock-solid faith which well-wishers placed in me that did not falter even though I did not win the trophy, and the still-burning desire to be the best evaluator I can be to the given speaker at that given time. I had heard, and now I've experienced for myself: Participation is equal to winning.
TM Deepa Bharatkumar President, Chennai Toastmasters Club
8. Leveraging Toastmasters during Interviews, MBA admissions & Career Growth – DTM Aditya Maheshwaran Recently I delivered a talk to the employees of TCS on the ‘Role of Toastmasters in MBA and beyond’. I’ve written this article based on the questions the audience had after the session, which I’ve tried my best to answer. Should I declare that I am a Toastmaster during an interview/admission? Be careful when you say you are a Toastmaster! Sitting in an interview, it is clever to tell the recruiters that swimming is your passion. It cannot be validated at that moment. But the moment you declare that you are a Toastmaster, you are validated then and there by the way you present yourself. I happened to conduct an interview recently where the candidate claimed to be an excellent communicator, while looking at the floor with a hesitant voice. He might have got a better rating if he hadn’t made that claim at all. My point is, to maximize the use of ‘Toastmasters’ in interviews, it is imperative to do your speech projects sincerely, become a robust speaker so that the moment you mention TM, the interviewers (for that matter anyone you interact with), immediately notice the difference between you and a non-TM person. I’ve realized TM does not make the ride bump-free. But it does help regular TMs who deliver speech projects sincerely a lot!
Ok. I am a sincere TM. In what ways does Toastmasters help me in Interviews? TM helps a lot! I’ve noticed that Toastmasters helps in 2 ways. Firstly, the fact that you have invested time on self-development demonstrates proactivity. Most companies/B-schools look for candidates who have strived for personal excellence. There are many exciting things that you could do, and TM is definitely one that will stand out in your resume. Secondly, even without your knowledge, a year of sincere ‘Toastmastering’ would have moulded you into a positive communicator and good listener with healthy interpersonal skills. The first is on paper, the second is what is visible. A good combination of both is a killer.
Isn’t grades enough to get into a good b-school? In India, due to the over-importance given to grades and exams, candidates consider GMAT or CAT as the most important preparatory step to get into a good b-school. It is time to dissolve this myth. Of course, b-schools that take freshers as majority like the IIMs do focus a lot on CAT score.
But if you have a few years of work experience, Global b-schools use GMAT only as an entry point. More weightage is given to Past work experience, Leadership instances, Interpersonal Skills, Team work instances and Ability to handle failure. These parameters are judged using the essays you provide during admission.
Ok. So what has TM got to offer here? Isn’t portraying my work experience enough? If you are in your 20’s, you may not have too many life stories that portray all the qualities listed above. Toastmasters can be leveraged for this purpose! Let me illustrate using my personal example. I joined TM at 1 9. Became the President of my club at 21 , Area Governor at 22 and Asst. LGET at 24. I recall instances where I had to settle disputes between people twice my age, when I had to manage cross-cultural teams, when I had to represent my home club at District conferences, when I failed at contests after wanting to win so badly. If your work experience is average, these can be great substitutes. In case you have rich work experience, you can play down TM and use it just as support material. If you are new to Toastmaster, you could still talk about networking, diversity and what your CL manual has taught you.
I understand. Now that I’ve become a TM, how do I make full use of it, to form life stories that interviewers may like to listen to?
The above graph is self-explanatory. Over 80% of our daily tasks are predictable and often under our control. There is nothing heroic in achieving these tasks. Few examples are status reports, running test cases, creating RFP’s etc... 20
So when you join Toastmasters, it is but natural for you to navigate to such tasks again. Though such tasks are important for running a club meeting, whenever an opportunity presents itself, take up tasks that are highly unpredictable and that you have very less control off. These tasks fall in the leadership zone. I recall the time when we decided to split Chennai Toastmasters Club. Difficult decision, unpredictable results (who could have guessed whether CSF would be a success or not), and very less under our control (member decides which club they want to be part of). That we came out successful is a matter of joy, but even otherwise, it was a great experience! These experiences add value to the TM journey. What more, it gives you a story to tell! In a nutshell, interviewers / admission teams / managers want to listen to exciting stories that substantiate your claims about yourself. Toastmasters is a place that I know of that gives you such opportunities to self-actualize. But start with small steps. Because all jazz aside, when did you do your last project speech? Boom!
DTM Aditya Maheswaran: Former president, International contest speech and evaluation winner. currently doing his MBA in ISB.
9 . Catch Them Young!! – TM Anjaneya Sastry I always inspired by the inquisitiveness, innocence and purity of children mind. They are naturally interested in doing things which excites them and avoid anything that dulls their brain. Recently we have initiated a small club for children aged eight to twelve and love to share my experience. This club meeting happens weekly and I share them an interesting story from Mahabharatha with a message. When I told them about Kacha, Devayani story and how Kacha acquired Sanjivinini which has the power of bringing dead back to live children were amazed and realized the evil effects of alcohol. With the famous story of “I am no Crane” how a Brahmin mendicant learns the importance of Dharma (call of duty) from a butcher, children thought about their role as a son and their contribution to the family. They have enjoyed the story of Sage Agatysa and how he killed the demon Vatapi and his brother Ilavala to their heart content. Many more stories are inline to go in the next 7 sessions Poems when memorized and sung in group builds a healthy and energetic atmosphere. I made them to recite “Daffodils” by William Wordsworth and “Rain Drops on Roses” song from “The Sound of Music”. I sang these songs along with these children and completely refreshed myself. Along with this I also make them work on basics of English grammar. I call this Communication Development for Kids (CDK) and committed to do ten such sessions. Three done seven more to go and enjoying every bit of itO
Anjaneya Sastry K (a.k.a ASK), works for Wipro as an InfoSec Assurance Manager. He lives near Thiruverkadu with wife Mrs. Kalpavalli and son Saket Ram.
1 0. A Roadmap for my Toastmasters journey – TM Madhavan Nampoothiri Like a majority of members joining Toastmasters Club, I also joined TM to improve my public speaking skills. When I walked into the CTM meeting as a guest, little did I realise that TM offers something much, much more. It was when Sakthi Prasanna, the VP-Membership at that time, send me an email with the welcome kit that I understood the enormous possibilities TMI offers. Sakthi mentioned something called “Distinguished Toast Master(DTM)” and shared a link to an article titled “A Two- Year Path to DTM" by Earl D. Kersting. In this article, Earl mentioned how he became a DTM in 2 years flat. As I read through, some of what the author said sounded very familiar “Some members think, “I really joined Toastmasters to improve my communication skills. I do not need to work on my leadership skills.” I have also met members who simply do not understand how the Competent Leadership manual works. They see the Project Completion Record on page 6 of the manual, see more than 40 tasks listed – 45 to be exact – and put the manual aside in favor of the CC manual, with its 1 0 projects.” Lot of us can relate to it, can’t we? The author gave 3 suggestions on how to work towards become a DTM. They are a. Read the CC and CL Manuals b. Make a Plan c. Work Your Plan He then gave a convincing argument as to “Why Do It?” Since knowing is not the same as doing, I decided to do what he suggested. Given below is the summary of what I learned and what I am doing. a. Read: More reading of the manuals gave me an idea of how TMI puts equal emphasis on Communication AND Leadership, and not just on the former. CC manual gave a clear idea of all the 1 0 projects whereas the CL gave the requirements for CL Project Completion. b. Plan: As always, planning is the easiest part. I created a 6 month roadmap for both the tracks – CC and CL. I shared it with my mentor and the VP- Education for their review. c. Work: This is the most difficult part. Once my mentor and VP-Education approved my plan, I started working on my plan. My report card for the 8 weeks since joining CTM looks like this. • Completed CC4 (1 best speaker award and some narrow misses) • Completed 2 role plays in CL manual(Project 1 in CL) • Taken up the responsibility of a newsletter(Project 6 in CL) • Working as Club Webmaster(Project 1 0 in CL) • Contested in the club election ..
All in all - a fun ride. While it is tempting to go at full speed and take up as many roles and speeches as possible, it should not affect the quality of the work. So, I declined to take part some of the competitions outside the club so that I can do a good job of work already on hand. With the responsibilities of running a company, helping my wife in managing twin boyss at home and finding time for TM, will I succeed in sticking to the plan? I do not know. But try, I will!! Given below is my roadmap.
The roadmap for the Leadership Track follows in the next page.
TM Madhavan Nampoothiri is an entreprenuer in the renewable energy sector.
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