Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Master Of Ceremony @ Toastmasters

Couple of weeks back, I had to shoulder the responsibility of being an MC( before you jump the gun, let me clarify at least for the sake of those dirty minds, its Master Of Ceremony and not M****C***) during one of Toast Master special sessions, featuring a table-topic-contest, consisting of 9 participants. I was the first one to speak and it was probably the first time, I was doing anything of this sort. Here is a short-story (cooked up of-course) which I used for my introduction about our Club and ToastMaster as a whole.

Good afternoon everybody. After having a not-so-satisfying lunch@ our cafeteria, you might be wondering where you have landed up. Another post-lunch session, oh my god, I just hate post-lunch meetings. Don’t worry; it’s a meeting for sure, but with a difference.  Let me tell you a small story to lighten up your mood(or belly, up to you whichever you want to pick).

Couple of months back, I happened to come across a gentleman, while shopping in Forum. He looked very impressive on first sight, well dressed up in a suit and a matching tie. I couldn’t resist myself and said hello to him and asked, hey what is your name? The gentleman responded “Murali”. He asked the same from me and we had a formal handshake. After the ice-breaking, He asked me “what do you do??’. I answered, with a touch of guilt and remorse, as if I am in the worst profession one can be, “I am a software engineer working for a Fortune 500 company”. I asked him “what do you do??’ Murali responded “By profession, I am a builder, by choice a body-builder, by passion a people–builder and by default a good human being”. I was like “Wow … What a nice introduction!!” I was awestruck, I had heard many introductions in my life, but nothing came close to what I just heard. For a moment, I thought I had just seen a monster. I knew, this gentleman was special, he was different.  I gathered my senses and had the gumption to ask him “Murali, Would you mind having a cup of coffee with me??” He said, Yes sure. Where shall we go?? We finalized on CafĂ© Coffee Day (commonly referred as CCD amongst CCD lovers/ frequenters). For me this was going to be the first time, I was heading to a CCD. I had heard from my friends that a coffee in CCD, as people love to call it, may very well cost upwards of three figures. So as we are making our way towards a nearby CCD, I secretly checked my wallet, how much money I have. You know these broke software professionals, who carry nothing but peanuts, barely enough for survival, but a plethora of virtual money (read credit cards). I also belong to the same class. When I was sure, I had enough money, I heaved a sigh of relief.

So we went into a nearby CCD, ordered coffee and started with our conversation. I asked him, what do you do apart from my work? He said, I am part of Toastmaster, a non-profit organization. For a moment I thought Toast Master,it must have something to do with bread and toast and that too as an organization name, he must be joking. Ever since Steve Jobs named Apple Computers, this was the funniest name that I had heard. So I got curious, as to what this Toast Master is all about. He talked about toastmasters for about half an hour and said plenty of things. I didn’t catch many, just like we do when we are forced to attend a technical presentation. But I caught the work Public-Speaking!! I asked him, can you tell me “How to be part of Toast Master”. The gentleman asked me “what company you work for??” Remember, I had not revealed my ORG name. I said “Oracle”. The gentleman got terribly excited and said “You have a ToastMaster club right in your office, go and talk to this fellow..He started searching his wallet for something, not sure what. He is a very good friend of mine, he will be able to guide you. In case it doesn’t, please give me a call @ my mobile and he handed me over his business card.

But I still hadn’t got my answers. I wanted to know, from where he picked up such a catchy one-liner. He said, in TM sessions, we also have an impromptu-speaking section, where you will be given a topic and you have to come to the podium and speak about it for 2 minutes. And believe it or not, he claimed to have discovered this catchy introduction during one of the table-topic speeches. I got my answer. I quickly finished my coffee and said bye to him. 

Dear president, fellow toastmasters and guests,

A week after this incident happened, I joined this organization called Toast Master Internation(TMI) and here I am in front of you to talk about Toast Master and what a table-topic is all about:-)

PS: Although it was a cooked up story and no such person Murali exists in reality, it was liked by most, if not all, of members and guests present at the contest. Some of them even called me up afterwards asking about Murali and his identity and whereabouts :-)

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