The writer is Founder-Owner at WriteWeavers, a specialised content development and planning company. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you had met Madan Raj Bhatta in 2011 and you had the chance to meet him in 2018, you would have noticed a transformation. Personally and professionally he has grown leaps and bounds. He attributes this growth to Toastmasters. Toastmaster Bhatta says that one of the best decisions he had made in his life was to join the movement seven years ago. .
From a shaky speaker to mustering confidence to speak among scores and hundreds, Bhatta is one of the hundreds in Nepal that have benefitted from the transformative journey that is Toastmasters. .
A worldwide phenomenon that had humble beginnings when founded in the United States in the 1924 by Dr Ralph C Smedley, the meticulously crafted and carefully mentored journey of communication and leadership has augmented the lives of millions globally. .
Toastmasters officially launched its first club in Nepal 27 years ago with Kathmandu Toastmasters Club. For over a decade and a half it was one of Kathmandu's best kept secrets and accessed by a handful of professionals. Everest Toastmasters Club opened in 2004, the second in Nepal, but it wasn't until the Himalaya and Shangri-La Toastmasters clubs opened, that the movement really caught winds of expansion and growth. Today, with 11 clubs and growing, the movement has caught the imagination of students, professionals, and corporate houses. .
Each Toastmaster club is unique in its approach but bound by common mission of providing a mutually supporting and positive learning environment in which every member has the opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and growth. Dr Rita Singh, a periodontist and implantologist, and the current President at Shangri-La Toastmasters, was drawn to this because of the friendly network of professionals. “It's a superb family that helps each other in personal growth at the club and in other aspects of life,” she shares. Pratik Rana credits the meetings as fantastic spaces that augment presentation and articulation skills. “Besides, the networking is a huge bonus - one meets a diverse and accomplished range of people at club meetings from the 18-60 demographic. It's a fantastic forum to build professional contacts,” Rana shares. .
A structured format based on decades of scientific research, has speaking modules divided into projects that are carefully mentored by experienced Toastmasters in club settings. Speeches, both impromptu and prepared, are carefully evaluated and instant feedback is provided in a non-threatening environment, so that club members are unafraid to speak and grow. .
Toastmasters pride themselves on being on time, to the minute. With feedback that ranges from usage of language, to structuring a variety of speeches, and being time-bound, the immaculately conceived and structured projects also hone a number of organising and leadership skills by encouraging club members to take on roles at meetings. .
Ranjit Acharya, CEO at Prisma Advertising has been a Toastmaster for over two decades and has seen individuals undergoing complete makeover. “The positive learning environment and growth is unbelievable. It's heartening to see banks such as Standard Chartered and Laxmi form clubs for their staff,” Acharya shares. Deepti Acharya, Director at Sanskriti International School, and President at Bodhi Toastmasters, credits the structured focus and growth-centred philosophy of the movement for its worldwide success. .
Suman Shakya, entrepreneur and a veteran Toastmaster, sums it up: “There are many ways in which individuals may decide to hone their communication and leadership skills. Although everyone may not subscribe to its focus and structure, Toastmasters, according to me, is one of the best platforms for individual improvement and a great training for life.”.
With Toastmasters from Nepal winning accolades internationally and Nepal joining the larger District 41 with three new clubs formed in the last one year, the movement is steadfastly gaining momentum. .