- TM Vinod Mettammel

If I were to tell you that you could become a millionaire, just by being a member of a non-profit educational organization, your instant reaction would be one of strong disbelief. But the answer is YES, you could. Toastmasters International truly redefined my concept of enjoying my life, especially my weekend life. Ever since I discovered Toastmasters, a substantial part of my weekends were occupied by positive and engaging activities related to Toastmasters. This weaned me away from my old habit of simply hanging out with friends and spending 200-500 dirhams every weekend which I realized had resulted in an unplanned, yet substantial saving of about 1200 dirhams every month. Spread across the eight long years I’ve completed, the accumulated savings from being positively engaged with Toastmasters activities adds up to 115,000 dirhams so far. When I convert this to my home currency the Indian Rupee, that’s more than 2 million in savings!!! Am I not a millionaire then, twice over?

You might question if cash savings were the only benefits to me so far? This time, the answer is ‘NO’. Those who know me are aware that I am a Business Development Manager in an IT firm. Apart from the popular expansion of IT as Information Technology, in today’s time, it also expands as Intensively Tough especially for us IT specialists. Maintaining  stability and career progression in the IT industry is extremely challenging. Many became jobless during the economic downturn that grasped the industry. 

So, how can professionals overcome this scenario? The best way, from my experience, is to enhance our soft skills. And how do we do that? I experienced that Toastmasters provides the best platform for developing our soft skills with activities that enables us to face the challenges of the market. Through sincere participation in Toastmasters, I made tremendous strides in my oral communication skills and with it my self-confidence surged. I began succeeding in conveying my ideas effective and convincingly and learned to address the pains and concerns of my customers successfully. Wherever I went, I started to become an effective team player and slowly emerged as a leader that stood out in the crowd. In short, my sales career has grown exponentially during these years. 

Being a Toastmasters is also a great Memory Booster. We need not depend on expensive or exotic food supplements to improve our memory. Toastmasters is a great platform for improving our memory by training our brain effectively. Remembering the names of new personal meet was a task next to impossible for me before joining Toastmasters. My journey with Toastmasters improved my listening skills along with my leadership and communication skills development. It is now one of my passions to be the General Evaluator at Toastmaster club meetings and deliver my without referring any notes. I can now easily remember the names of each guest gathered at the meeting. The important value I learned here is that by remembering the names of guests, they feel respected and honored. Addressing them by their full name makes them happy as they feel unique. 

I have across many people who reached their career peaks after spending just 3-4 years with Toastmasters. Some left to give more time to their families. Yet, a large bunch of old-timers continue in the organization to serve newcomers and to help bring the benefits to toastmasters to more and more people. The dedication of such leaders inspires me to serve the organization in higher leadership roles. 

For me, Toastmaster International is like the ‘Kalpaka Vriksham’, or the ‘tree of life’ from Hindu mythology that fulfilled all the needs of mankind. It is your choice how to use this platform for your betterment. But one thing I can assure you from personal experience is that whatever time you spend here is incomparable and worth every minute.