This is as cliche as it gets – but the new year is a good time to look back – even if it is take stock of good things that happened. Goals that one achieved. Good things that worked.
And God knows! We can do with a list of positives in a time when the dreaded virus has been playing fast and loose with us.
So for me, while the first half of the year was going big guns on work, the second half sorta derailed the process.
Death of a parent, recovering from a surgery, moving homes – the second half seemed to throw as many challenges my way as possible. Hopefully, the new year is going to be better.
And I guess that’s why looking back at 2021 has especially been life-affirming for me – listing out the achievements – and there were quite a few.
The year began with contests in my Toastmasters club. These are the club level contests that finally lead to the World Champion of Public Speaking in August. I decided to put my hat in the ring for the Table Topics contest – which is the impromptu contest.
I won the contest at the club level and was the second runner-up at the area level.
It was a great experience to participate in the contest. I not only got to flex my impromptu speaking muscles but also competed with people from outside our club. It’s nice to be on the other side as a trainer, once in a while.
VICE PRESIDENT – PUBLIC RELATIONS AT POWAI TOASTMASTERS CLUB
Last year also brought another unique experience – running public relations and social media for the club I was a member of. The personal branding experience for my own business gave me the confidence to put my hat in the ring and get the position.
It was fun to create content on Toastmasters and public speaking. I also launched the page for the club on Linkedin to help attract more members to the club – and also spread the word about Toastmasters.
SESSIONS WITH UPGRAD
Upgrad was not only the leading elearning platforms in the country but also was a source of great work for me last year.
I started by conducting expert sessions on communication for Upgrad graduates in Data Science, product management, social media managers etc. Some of the topics I covered include interviews skills, personal branding, virtual presence and communicating effectively in any situation.
And then I moved on to being one of the hosts of After Hours – the networking sessions for Upgrad alumni.
Every alumni meet had a theme. And with multiple hosts, the participants could be divided into many groups of small teams who could discuss the theme amongst themselves.
I must say that these events were very well organised by Upgrad and despite it being on a virtual medium, the sessions were quite smoothly executed.
Since we were still reeling under the impact of the pandemic and offline meets were impossible, these sessions were great to connect and communicate with a vibrant bunch of professionals.
UNSCRIPTED – THE IMPROMPTU SESSIONS
This was a brainwave that I wanted to test. I coach people on speaking skills but generally find a gap in practice opportunities.
So I thought what if we had a session where a small group of people gather to practice speaking on impromptu topics. This was very closely modelled to what the table topics in Toastmasters is.
It was a tight 60 minutes with about 8 slots in one session – where 2 hosts would give out topics to everyone in turns and a timer would time for 2 minutes.
Contestants from across the country participated with enthusiasm in these sessions. In fact, I had to close registrations by the next day in some cases.
SESSIONS FOR GROUPS
Apart from the one-on-one coaching that I do, there were a couple of rather interesting sessions that I conducted for groups.
The GECIA Toastmasters club had me as a guest speaker to talk about how Toastmasters can be beneficial to its members.
Thanks to our virtual lives, a Mumbai toastmaster like me spoke to a vibrant club in Pune while sitting in Delhi!
The theme was centered around communication skills and how Toastmasters can help you with that.
Some of the points I covered were:
1. 9 useful skills you can learn in Toastmasters apart from public speaking and leadership
2. How to make the most of your Toastmasters membership
3. How to join a Toastmasters club
The participants had a lot of questions which only enhanced the interaction during the session.
VIRTUAL CO-WORKING SESSIONS
What have we not done to cope with the loneliness of work from home during the pandemic! And virtual co-working sessions are one such thing.
How do you get motivated to work, especially as an entrepreneur, in times of working from home? Virtual co-working to the rescue! I was sceptical initially. But when you stare at an empty screen without getting anything done, it’s worth a try.
I did 2 virtual co-working sessions last year with people I knew. It was productive – definitely better than trying to push myself on my own.
Read all about my co-working experience here
Have you tried virtual co-working?
MY FIRST COURSE ON UDEMY
This was a great breakthrough for me last year. After I ran a poll on Linkedin, I found that majority of the people are looking for tips on writing their own elevator pitch. So I made that the topic of my first online course. After a lot of research I chose to host mine on Udemy.
And it would be an understatement to say that it’s exhausting to create an online course. Kudos to people who come with one after the other.
Since I did everything on my own – from scripting to editing and uploading, it was tough and time consuming. It was through the sheer dint of hard work and self-motivation that I saw it through!
If you wish to check out the course content, and maybe enrol in the course, click here
If Tiktok has it, so does Instagram, how can YouTube be left behind? Youtube shorts was launched last year for short videos that content creators might want to post. The videos can be 15 seconds to a minute.
I had fun creating 15 second videos on quick tips for different skills – from elevator pitch to coaching and impromptu speaking.
You can check out the videos here
Any yearly round up is incomplete unless I talk about my reading adventures. Despite personal challenges last year, I did a decent amount of reading. I am writing a separate detailed post on my reading escapades. But I want to share 2 things here.
I re-read Malcolm Gladwell – Blink, David and Goliath, Outliers – because his books never go out of style.
I discovered a new author, Frederick Backman – who reinforced my love for fiction – with A Man Called Ove, the story of a man learning to live alone without his wife. I also went on to read his other books and now Anxious People – which is also now a Netflix series.
How was your 2021?