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Archive for the ‘Inspirational’ Category


 Think-BoxIn sales we are taught to UP-SELL – If our prospect purchases a Tablet Pcs; sell him 3 years premium support along.  CROSS-SELL – If your prospect buys Tablet Pcs; sell him a printer or a Camera along. 

The fundamental is “don’t limit yourself to the low hanging fruits.”  But cross sell and upsell to increase your share of customer wallet.  And I would like to apply this principle to Toastmasters platform as well. 

Toastmaster’s platform is a  BOX.  In TOASTMASTERS BOX members come together to invest positive energy to help and be helped in enhancing their communication and leadership skills.    But the buck should never stop here and we should invest that energy to Cross Sell.  What if we create two more boxes? 

  • FIRST BOX or PROFESSIONAL BOX: We step out of the Toastmasters box and invest in helping fellow members progress in THREE professional arenas   such as
    • FEEDBACK: Sharing our FEEDBACK on their professional status (This could be in the similar format of LinkedIn wherein we send feedback request to our connections)
    • PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT:  Recommendations on what professional course will help them to turbo charge the career.  It could be onsite MBA, an online marketing course or mentoring/coaching.
    • ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES:  Sharing economic opportunities and this could be new jobs in his domain; new companies coming up or new industry trends.
  • Let’s create SECOND BOX or FAMILY BOX: Wherein structured  discussion could happen in two areas
    • INVESTMENT: Right and viable investment in property; equity or others. 
    • FAMILY: Kids education or Health related benefits to avail and recommendations.  Or Tips & recommendations on Leisure or vacation. 

Good luck and begin Investing out of the box.



Best audience does not mean that you are a silent spectator; conversely it reflects you are the most active participant member of the audience.    I believe the best learning happens when you plan your participation; and absorb the learning compliant with your goal.   Hence let’s analyze how do I maximize my learning during the two hours of meeting when I am not the role play?

  1. Reach Early: Reach early and connect with members and guests.  Set your targets; what you want to achieve during your socializing; do you want opinion on Sales, new openings and so on.  
  2. Carry a Notebook:  You can depend on your memory to remember up to “7” things.  But you can trust your Notebook to recall any number of learning verbatim.  I carry Notebook and note down good quotes, exciting usage of words and use that in my blogs.
  3. Listen: This is important because when you listen, you learn and when you listen intently, you learn exponentially. Having said that decide what you want to pay attention to ? Good usage of words, humour, quotes or others?   During the Burj TM club meeting SAA shared the three taboos as follows.  “ You can use three topics on Sex , religion and Politics outside the club meeting”
  4. Observe Gestures: Observe speakers gestures that make an impression. Can you use those gestures in your next public speaking?
  5. Take Notes: Take notes during the meeting and begun noting down good usage of language, words or reference to books, URL and others.
  6. Question but in your Mind: Always questions the speaker.  What if he had put a pause? What if the speaker raised the pitch? What if he avoided reference to the TMOD?
  7. Applaud the Speaker Applaud the speaker.   There is power in applause; it encourages the speaker and in some strange way it also puts you in receptive mode.
  8. Give Written Feedback: Provide written feedback to the speakers.  A very essential process to hone your written feedback skills.
  9. Give Oral Feedback to the Speaker: Give oral feedback.  It’s an excellent process to give feedback and receive instant feedback reflected in the facial gestures.  Observe them closely.
  10. Compliment the speaker when you meet the speaker after the meeting.  This is important; it motivates the speaker and also forces you to find positives to speak about.

Once a renowned author said “Do more than Belong: Participate.”  Hence be the best audience, PARTICIPATE.

This evening it was a treat listening to TM Sudhir Menon delivering “MOMENTS OF TRUTH” at Al Nahda TM Club and thereafter eating fish/potato snacks brought in by a member TM was the “Moments of Truth”. 

I was reminded of my Grand Mother – god bless her soul she is no more.  She was a very lively lady running a joint family of 6 sons and a daughter.   It is a big joint family and whenever we visited her I would see a continuous stream of visitors during the day.  And my Grandmother was never tired of being the perfect host.  But sometime it irritated her sons.

If someone appeared on the doorsteps she would gladly invite them inside the house and offer juice or Tea.  Rule # 1 was no visitors casual or otherwise should leave from the door.

And if the visitor was a close acquaintance she would greet her with a mile long smile and invite her inside the house.  If he was a first time visitor he would be given the tour of the house and then made comfortable on bed made of jute rope (In Punjabi this bed is called Manjee) spread in the verandah. He would be served Tea, juice followed by the meal of the day.  The kitchen was a 24 hours routine with Tea on the fire.

She would listen intently to the guest and enquire about guest’s kins by name. Narrate them the stories and when it was time to leave she would pack few parathas or achar for the guest and entreat them to visit sooner.    She did not go to school but by the current standards she had a Phd in the “Art of Hospitality.”   And when I look back I am not surprised that people loved to visit my Grandmother’s house. And perhaps that was one of the reason that she kept the joint family together.

She was a perfect embodiment of “Moments of Truth.”   When I dissect her routine, it reflects the secret recipe of winning and retaining members in toastmasters Program.  And if I may dissect it into a “10”  point program; it will reflect…

  1. No Guest should leave your meeting without getting the VIP treatment.  Guests are the life line of club because they reflect membership growth.
  2. When Guest walks in he is greeted with a mile long smile and welcomed.
  3. Guest is taken around and introduced to the Excom and other members of the club and left in the company of a senior member to take care.  Guest is never left unattended and offered Tea/Coffee first.
  4. Give a patient hearing to the Guest conversation.
  5. Guest is made comfortable by asking questions of his interest.
  6. Guest is narrated success stories of the members’ growth.
  7. Guest is given the snap shot of Toastmasters program
  8. Guest is asked to join or asked to return for the next meeting and his contact details taken.
  9. Guest feedback is requested, formal or informal and documented.
  10. Create a guest kit and hand it over to him after the meeting.

The ultimate objective is to make your guest feel at HOME; after all Toastmasters are a BIG JOINT FAMILY.

This evening I attended Lagoon Toastmasters Club meet at Ryan Hotel – Sharjah. I reached early since I was aware of their best practice of conducting Table Topics session half an hour before the actual start of the meeting time.  The popularity and success of early Table Topics session is reflected in the proof that the tradition continues un-interrupted having initiated over an year and early.   The occasion also marked the celebration of 88th Birthday of Toastmasters movement and cake cutting ceremony by the club members.



The Toastmasters organization is around 84 years old, but amazingly it is growing younger every day.  There was a time only MALE population above the age of 18 could participate and sometime in  1971 the forum was opened to women but off-course for the ladies above the 18 years.

Much later members debated and the opportunity was extended to younger generation under 18 years; under an exciting word called Gavel  …”Gavels Club”.  Now you observe Gavel clubs in numerous schools and it’s an education to watch the younger generation sharpening their saw in communication and leadership skills.  The simple premise for the Toastmasters movement is “age is no bar for sharpening your communications and leadership skills.”  You may be 8 years old or 80 years young; you have the right to join Toastmasters forum. 

I am a strong proponent of Toastmasters activities and I realized the real benefits after I started visiting and sharing my experience in non – Toastmasters forums and activities.  I realized why there is no failure in Toastmasters but LESSONS; that’s the spirit with which members grow in Toastmasters.  In a typical crisp statement; members empty their cup.  Members begin unlearning old habits  to LEARN new habits.

  1. Members unlearn their stage fright.
  2. Members unlearn their confused & stagnant mindset.
  3. Members unlearn being introvert.
  4. Members unlearn the art of speaking monotonously.
  5. Members unlearn the power to ignore good body language.
  6. Members unlearn the power to ignore the power of time management.
  7. Members unlearn the power to be ignorant of good habits that matters most.

Members may unlearn the old habits but they are replaced by better habits.  I always wondered,   what is the trigger for such a change; when change is difficult ?   Until I read the literature highlighting research.  And I would like to share two of them. 

  1. The first experiment was conducted between two groups of students; group A participants  were asked to appear for a test and participants in group B were given a candy each just before they   entered the exam hall.  The result reflected that   people who received candy before the exam performed better than the batch who was simply asked to appear for the test.
  2. In the second experiment the research group conducted a test in the classroom.  When the result arrived they simply instructed the teacher that student A, B and C were exceptional students.  But also reprimanded teacher not to show any favoritism in their behavior or school work towards the bright students.  A year later once again they conducted the test and amazingly students A, B and C performed much better than other students in the class.  The icing on the cake is that the result earlier in the year had reflected them as average students.  How come sudden improvement in the three students  when teachers had refrained from giving any favours ?   It only goes to prove that somehow the teacher had outwardly or inwardly reflected appreciation of the students.  And that sub- conscious appreciation had impacted their performance.

The above two experiments  and many other prove beyond any doubt that motivation, encouragement,  compliments and happy positive environment produces better and faster results from the participants .  And Toastmasters values reflect and practice the said principals.  Consequently members in Toastmasters grow by leaps and bounds.    There are no failures but lessons in Toastmasters.

March 4, 2012: Toastmasters International is a non-profit organization engaged in developing public speaking and leadership skills amongst its members.  The organization is for the members, by the members and of the members.  And one of the objective of the program is to spread the benefit by inducting new  members.

Every club has the mandate to induct new members and the new member’s effort is reflected in the club’s DCP points. On the flip side, District officer’s performances are measured by different criteria, including number of new clubs being set up. To achieve the milestone you must sell the programs benefit to new members to join the clubs and corporate communities to set up new clubs.

The simple process includes selling the benefits of toastmasters program and it’s a natural progression that takes its natural time period.  But what if you can hasten the process by influencing their mindsets and help members devote extra time on improving club activities and performance.

I believe you can hasten the process by influencing guest’s decision. And here I would share “6” pillars of influence identified by guru of persuasion Dr. Robert B. Cialdini and they are

  1. Reciprocation
  2. Consensus and Commitment
  3. Social power
  4. Scarcity
  5. Like
  6. Authority

RECIPROCATION: We are programmed to pay back a favor and it’s in our DNA.  Ralph Waldo Emerson rightly said “Pay every debt as if God wrote the bill”. 

TIP :When you invite guests, give them the Toastmasters magazine and or guest kits to take back and read.  Make them comfortable and let a senior Ex-Com member explain the program to him.  Ask him if he needs any other clarifications.  Treat the guest as you would a friend and if required arrange to drop him back at his residence.

CONSENSUS AND COMMITMENT: We as humans have an excessive desire to be consistent with what we have already done or said.

TIP :Get feedback from your guests at the end of the meeting  and let them fill out a feedback form that will also ask for them to write down what they liked about the program.

SOCIAL PROOF: If everyone is doing it, it is correct.

TIP : Share with your guests the Toastmasters activities in your territory and globally; there are 96 Clubs in UAE and 110,000 clubs worldwide in over 90 plus countries.  Invite them to Area contests, Divisions contests and let them observe the powers of participation and performance.

SCARCITY:  Hard  to get things are perceived to be better than easy to get things.

TIP : Make your guest comfortable, and introduce the program clarifying all the doubts. Invite them to join but make them aware that since this is members club, the membership is subject to concurrence by all the members.

AUTHORITY: People tend to obey authoritative figures.

TIP : Introduce your guests to the Club president, VP Education, ACM, DTM and let them do the selling.  If you have an important guest visiting, invite your Area Governor or Division Governor and introduce your guest to them.  A pitch coming in from an authority figure influences.

LIKE: People say yes to people they like or know.  People also like people that have something in common with them.

TIP : Find something in common with your guests and start your conversation with this as your basis;  it could be school, college, place of residence or anything that becomes an ice breaker.

Getting new members and setting up new clubs are part of the leadership development and the more effectively you perform this activity, the better leader you emerge.  Use the powers of the six pillars of influence to maximize the positive outcome.  Reciprocate; commitment and consensuses; Authority; Scarcity; Like and use the Social proof.


Toastmasters International has changed many lives.  People who swore to have no talent for public speaking are delivering keynote and motivational speeches.  People who thought it was a waste of time have morphed into DTM’s and persuaded hundred of others to join the forum and people who believed in “I, me and mine”, have been mentoring and helping others to succeed.  What can you expect to learn from Toastmasters Program? As an analogy let me share my five point learning. 

Ripple Effect: It’s never too late when it comes to self development.  Every small or big thing you learn has a ripple effect in other areas of your life.

Parkinson’s Law:   It says that “The demand upon a resource tends to expand to match the supply of the resource.”  Hence, plan your activities with a start and end time and stick to it.  Because activities that have no time measure, will expand to occupy your valuable time. 

B+ : You can choose your friends and choosing positive friends is a blessing in disguise.  You are most productive when you are in the company of positive people, you learn better, perform better and your impact increases by many folds.  B+ and maintain a positive company. 

Pay it forward: Zig Ziggler once said that if you want to succeed in life, help others to succeed.   An old saying also says….. “Teaching is twice learning” So go ahead help others succeed and share your learning with others.

Boomerang effect: Never under estimate the power of motivation, words of encouragement and how they can impact the lives of people.  They cost nothing but have the most impact. Sprinkle your communication with words of encouragement and motivation, because what you give always comes back and it’s called the Boomerang effect. 

And in conclusion, I would share words of Past International President Helen Blanchard, If you get out of Toastmasters all that there is to get out of Toastmastersyoull never get out of the Toastmasters”





This meeting was in disguise. I said disguise because the theme was “Mr and Ms United Nations” and the participants represented and dressed in “15” different nationalities including India. A pleasant meeting with a twist of interest and passion of the members to make it a colorful success meeting. Watch the “Mr and Ms United Nations” in action.

Heard at Burj Toastmasters ……..few beautiful medley  of words…….

“Every life is a journey and every journey has a story”

“Missing Stories”

“Clouds of memory”

“Close encounters of the wild kind”

“Quiet chaos”

“Good, bad or Unique”

“Friends are like stars always there specially when its dark”

“Generally speaking, women speak generally”

Enjoy Reading

How do you react when the club participation drops?   I suppose there are two things you can do, # 1 is to cry, complain and curse.    And 2nd thing you can do is strive to make the club attractive because people are attracted to attractive people, attractive events  and attractive places.

When Division – J, District – 79 felt that they need a boost in Toastmasters activities participation, they adopted the 2nd principal and organized a Debate contest among the clubs.  It created a flutter in the club activities and participation.  As a TM standing on the platform on the day of train departure, I could see  Toastmasters getting on the train and creating a buzz.  The train was full and when the journey ended, the Facebook and the email boxes were full too with recognition, congratulations and accolades to the winner and participants.

A great job well done Division – J; District 79 Toastmasters for becoming more attractive.

Enjoy reading

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