“I am the first Toastmaster from Asia to win as well as the first person whose second language is English, My hope is that my winning will encourage people who are shy or have an accent to realize that they can do it, too.” - Vikas Jhingran 2007 World Champion of Public Speaking (Toast Masters International).
“There’s really no rocket science involved. It’s all about being true to yourself, tapping into your strengths and working hard,” says Jhingran, 34, a native of Morabadad (a suburb of Calcutta), India. His award- winning speech, “The Swami’s Question,” combined humor with a personal tale of being a not-so- motivated student in India.
A Toastmaster since October 2002, Jhingran completed his first 10 speeches within eight months, and entered speech contests soon after joining.
Jhingran grew up in a country where public speaking is not encouraged in the educational system. Soon after coming to the United States for a graduate degree at Texas A&M University, however, he learned how beneficial speaking up for yourself can be.
“I picked up some very important lessons as I prepared for the championship contest,” says Jhingran. “For instance, I discovered that the process of getting and giving feedback is highly underrated, but very critical to the speech crafting process. Toastmasters teaches you to spot your weaknesses and ask for specific feedback and then maximize that feedback by identifying what will work for you and applying it.”
“Many speakers never really spend the time to understand what their speaking style is, and as a result they don’t understand what their strengths and weaknesses are,” he says. “There are many ways to get to the top. My question is, What is your way? An effective speech has to be written to your strengths. For instance, for someone like me, the strength is in the writing and the content of the speech, not so much in the dramatics and moving around the stage.”
When you know your strengths as a speaker and the best style for you, you are comfortable enough to establish a connection with the audience, which is your most important task, Jhingran says.
I was an excellent speaker until I joined Toast Masters last year. After I joined and competed in Area Humorous Speech Contest, I realized, I am one of the best eligible speakers to start learning to become a better speaker. There are many aspects of public speaking we can never learn by reading or watching but only by just doing it and having a coach to continuously monitor and give us feedback. Toast Masters can do it and a lot more than that. It has been quite a journey so far. I have recently completed my first 10 speech projects. I feel quite confident now and know for sure that I have a lot more to learn.
Its wonderful to know a Toast Master from India winning the World Championship. Considering the fact that for many Indians English being a second language and equipped with highly accentuated pronunciations, I thought it would be very difficult to translate our ideas to native English speakers clearly and with impact. I realized with the help of Toast Masters and unconditional support and feedback from club members, it isn't such a difficult task. And, Vikas proves it beyond a doubt.