August 16, 2013

Toastmasters & Stammering

Toastmasters & Stammering. Can the two really go together? Many would consider them contradictory. I consider them complementary.

I joined Toastmasters in January 2010. The primary reason I joined was because I stammer - I have been since I was eight years old. A friend had told me “Toastmasters makes you a better public speaker”. At that point in my life, I was desperate to try any method that would make me a better public speaker. At that point in my life, I would stammer on almost every single word while giving a public speech; I had to give daily briefings to my staff in my restaurant. Consistently, after each briefing, feelings of embarrassment, shame and inadequacy would swell inside me.  

I resolved to attend Toastmasters to challenge myself to speak in public. This resolution was bittersweet. I knew Toastmasters would help me, but I dreaded going to our weekly 7:30 pm Monday meetings. Every Monday, I would have butterflies storming in my stomach in the early afternoon. By the evening, my heart would be racing and my mind would play out all possible scenarios in which I could stammer. I would then consciously try to avoid each of them.

By February 2011, I stopped going to Toastmasters. Partially due to a lack of time, but primarily due to the fact that my fear of public speaking grew stronger than my will to be a public speaker.
Towards the end of 2012, my speech had cyclically dipped into a recession once again. I decided, and this time acted upon the idea, that I needed professional help. I turned to a 3-week Intensive Therapy program in January 2013.

After completing the program, I arrived back in Guangzhou and decided I would try to join Toastmasters again. Since I have been back I have religiously attended every Toastmasters club meeting and taken a role in each and every one – from Joke master to Table Topics Master to Grammarian. My club held an International speech competition, and Table Topics competition on Saturday, March 23; I won 2nd place and 1st place respectively. 

I then participated in our Area competition - all clubs in Guangzhou. I gave a speech on a mental tool useful for PWS, called Turn Around Thinking. It’s when you make a conscious decision to stop beating yourself up, and focus on the positive aspects of the situation – What did you do well? Why was the situation a success? You can watch the speech below. PS: I use the word Stutter because I’ve been educated in American schooling systems. Enjoy :)


Amitsingh Kushwah said...

Great writeup.

Manimaran said...

I have watched the full video. very good speech.You got rid of you fear in Toastmasters club. One or other way our fear must go. You have chosen a tough route and succeeded. But keep going to Toastmasters club to avoid possibility of any relapse after sometime. I wish you all the best.

Dinesh said...

Thanks Dhruv for sharing your thoughts and speech.. It was a wonderful and inspiring speech..

Yes, Toastmasters can be an intimidating word for someone who stutters and sure it is!!

While some can directly take the leap to toastmasters, for many the less intimidating path would be to dabble with your speech in SHGs for about 3-4 months and then look for the next level of challenge like Toastmasters.. (In your case,the intensive program would have put you in right mindset to take-on the ruthless world. SHGs will serve the similar purpose and will set the basics before the storm!! )

And Yes, Toastmasters is also a kind of SHG!! which can do a world of good!

Kushal Batabyal said...


Also, Dinesh thanks for a vital piece of advice for those who still haven't acquired the necessary courage level 2 go into ToastMasters.