Toastmasters members work their way through a series of ten speeches, each focused on a different aspect of public speaking. When they’ve presented all ten, they are awarded “Competent Communicator” status from Toastmasters International. NYU Toastmasters is delighted to announce its first two “Competent Communicators” since the club’s formation in May of 2014, Belinda Roman, Fiscal Affairs Analyst in Opportunity Programs, and Shirish Patel, Senior Director – Facilities Administration at the School of Professional Studies since 2012.
Belinda and Shirish both joined NYU Toastmasters as soon as it was available at the University. Below are their responses when asked why they joined, as well as what advice they have for others who are interested in improving their presentation skills.
Shirish Patel and Belinda Roman, NYU Toastmasters’ first Competent Communicators, after receiving their awards.
Why did you join NYU Toastmasters?
Shirish: I’d been interested in Toastmasters for a long time but did not actively look for it. NYU brought it close to the office and made it easy to get involved.
Belinda: I joined to develop my writing and speaking skills and to overcome the anxiety that accompanied public speaking for me. These skills are vital professionally, scholastically, for interviewing, and even in social settings.
Which speech was the most fun for you to deliver and why?
Belinda: The speech I had the most fun delivering was Project #6 in which the objective is to use vocal variety. I am usually monotone so it was a pure challenge. To some degree, I had to become a character to get it done. I had a sort of out of body experience and remember hearing myself and wondering, “Is that really me?” I was so proud of myself once I finished!
Shirish: My speech about commuting to New York City by bus focused on typical human behaviors in a somewhat humorous way and was the most fun to present.
Toastmaster Belinda receives her Competent Communicator award.
Which speech was the scariest?
Belinda: The scariest project was the one in which I had to use visuals. I was incredibly nervous about the technical aspect of working with PowerPoint and video. I was worried I’d be distracted in trying to make it seamless. Ironically, I found that they visuals actually helped my anxiety. All of my mental energy went to speaking and syncing my slides, which didn’t leave me any time to think about being nervous.
Shirish: I spoke about the “Pay As You Throw” model for waste disposal tax, a smelly(!) subject that involved some uninteresting information but that was intended to inspire my audience to write to their townships promoting the environmentally friendly plan. I was afraid I may lose the audience. To my surprise, it was well received.
How has your speaking improved during this process?
Shirish: I’ve learned a multitude of the finer points for presenting that have significantly added to the effectiveness with which I can engage my audience and get my point across.
Belinda: Speeches require writing in a way that translates well verbally; that connects to an unknown audience. From presenting my writing out loud in this way, I’ve learned to adapt; to walk into any environment, become comfortable, and connect with those in the room. That’s an invaluable skill.
Toastmaster Shirish receives his Competent Communicator award.
What advice do you have for others working on their presentation skills?
Shirish: Speaking is a lot like taking a plunge into cold water: Just dip your toe and it will make you shiver, but jump in head-first, and you’ll have a blast. Just do it (Sorry, Nike).
What about advice for newer members who are just starting out on their speeches?
Belinda: Take full advantage of each meeting you attend – right from the start. Participate! It’s a judgement-free zone where everyone is so supportive. There is really no better place to develop yourself at your own pace!
NYU Toastmasters is proud to recognize the achievements of Belinda and Shirish. Congratulations!
NYU Toastmasters is open to all faculty and non-faculty staff at the University. We meet on Thursdays throughout the year on the following schedule: 5:15-6:15 pm on the 1st & 3rd Thursdays of a given month; 12:00-1:00pm on the 2nd & 3rd Thursdays of a given month. 5:15 meetings are at 105 East 17th Street, Room 191. Noon meetings are at (address), Room 3-155. There is no meeting on a 5th Thursday in any month, or around major holidays. Drop-ins are always welcome.