Extremely hilarious, remarkably candid and deeply inspirational – these words sum up an excellent education session, “My Distinguished Toast Master(DTM) Journey”, by DTM Jayan Narayanan at the Coromandel Toastmasters Club on 6th July 2013.
(Note: The video recording of Jayan’s speech will be uploaded shortly)
When Jayan started his speech, I was expecting him to say when and how he became a DTM in a chronological fashion– how he finished the CC, CL and the advanced manuals to eventually become a DTM. Well, that was not to be.
He did start with his pre-Toastmasters life and was predictable till he became a TM. From there, the story took a different narrative arc. How? Read on!!
Jayan was a shy, introverted kid who was very uncomfortable speaking to even a guy standing next to him(forget about public speaking). He went to a school in Neyveli in Tamil Nadu but his dad got him enrolled in a college in North India for his graduate studies. At college, he was extremely nervous since he was poor at English, was an introvert and was mostly silent. He always used single word answers and gestures, to avoid grammatical mistakes. A girl in his class, seeing his plight, tried to help by encouraging him to talk, but to no avail. On a lighter note, she realised that since Jayan was so silent, he would make a good husband and proposed to him. (And she repents it now, because she did not know at that time that Jayan would become a Toastmaster!!)
As fate would have it, Jayan’s first job was that of a marketing manager, where the most important skill required is to talk, talk and talk even more, mostly fluff!! The silent guy Jayan realised his precarious situation within a few months into his job. In order to rectify what he calls his pathetic English, he formed an “English speaking group” along with 5 of his friends, who also had the same “broken English” Jayan had. His communication improved, but not by much.
Introduction to Toastmasters
During a visit to the USA, Jayan’s wife attended a Toastmasters club by chance and she instantly realised that Toastmasters is ideal for Jayan. After she came back, she urged Jayan to become a TM. On googling, he came to know about Chennai Toastmasters Club(CTM), but did not join the club because he was nervous about “public speaking”. Then something interesting happened. Jayan was working at CSC at that time, and one of the giants of the Toastmasters in India, Janaki Prasad Pattanaik (click here for a slightly old profile of DTM Janaki Prasad) wanted to start a corporate Toastmasters club in CSC and was looking for members. When Janaki met Jayan, he made Jayan the Vice President-Education of the club and told Jayan that he will explain about Toastmasters later. He also instructed Jayan to find a Vice President- Membership, which he promptly did.
During the first meeting of the CSC corporate club, Jayan was surprised to a see Janaki in a blazer and talking with a loud voice in front of the audience, which comprised of DTM Nina John, Abraham Zachariah, among others. Jayan heard about something called Table Topics for the first time in his life when he saw a demo version of it played by a veteran TM. Then he was called on to the stage and given a Table Topic “Imagine you are the CEO of the company”. Here is what happened, in Jayan’s own words. ”My knees were rattling, heart beat crossed 200 and nothing came to my mind. All I could do was to repeat the topic after about a minute, and return to my seat. And guess what? I got a thunderous applause. The evaluator told me that I did a great job. When I gave him a perplexed look, he said that I had the courage to go to the stage, at least repeat the topic and walk back to the seat”.
There started Jayan’s TM journey. DTM Janaki Prasad told him that he needed lot of DTMs in the club, and taking this to heart, Jayan started rushing through projects making speeches in quick succession.
The turning point
Jayan’s speech project on “voice modulation” proved to be an important milestone in his DTM journey. He was shocked after the speech when his speech evaluator told him to repeat the project, because the speech was flat, with no voice modulation whatsoever. Till then, he was used to the pampering of evaluators who always said that his speech was fantastic, without being very critical and pointing out the areas for improvement. It hurt his ego, but when the evaluator explained to him his reasoning later, Jayan got the point. Improvement does not come by speed, but by real practice. Jayan took it to heart and from then, he slowed down and became more serious about his speeches. He understood the nuances of each speech project and work diligently to master them. He eventually became a DTM without compromising on the quality of his speeches.
Jayan’s Learnings from his DTM journey
Jayan shared the following from his experience, and urged every aspiring DTM to apply the learnings in their DTM journey.
- You need to have a purpose when joining Toastmasters. Remind yourself of that purpose and work towards it. After all, you are spending 2 hours of your precious time every week taking part in the TM meetings.
- If you don’t apply the skills honed at Toastmasters in real life, don’t spend time at Toastmasters.
- “Listening” is the most important skill required to become a good speaker. One of the very few advantages of being an introvert is that introverts are good listeners. So, introverts can become very good speakers.
- Learn to become more patient. It is something most of us lack. Patience distinguishes a good leader from a bad one.
- Don’t become a pseudo-DTM. You are only as good as your last speech. Once you become a DTM, you are under a lot of pressure because the expectations on you for delivering an amazing speech, every time you speak in public, are very high. And it is very easy to let down the audience.
- Do not chase the DTM recognition, but chase the goal you set for yourself.
- Never compare yourself with another Toastmaster. You come to Toastmasters to achieve your goals, not your fellow TM’s.
- Your heart is your best and the most important evaluator. Listen to your heart, and no one else. If you are not satisfied with your project even if your evaluator says that it was fantastic, repeat it. Till you are satisfied.
With that call to action, DTM Jayan Narayanan concluded his speech.
It was a great privilege for all the TMs and guests present at the meeting to hear such a fantastic speech by DTM Jayan. Coromandel Toastmasters Club is proud and fortunate to have DTM Jayan ” Singam” Narayanan as its member.
Looking forward to more such sessions from him!!
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