By Dinesh Jayabalan
Sassy and smart-mouthed, Dinesh Jayabalan is a unique force of nature who doesn’t just mouth off; he makes it a point to walk the talk. Recently, he achieved the status of Distinguished Toastmaster, the highest level a toastmaster can achieve – at the tender age of 21. He’s among the few toastmasters in Malaysia to achieve this feat at this age.
This is his story…
“I started my Toastmasters journey almost three years ago in university. Being a high school debater who loved arguing with everyone, I did not have a hard time getting my message across to the audience. But, I faced severe difficulties in the field of storytelling and public speaking, which were the main reasons why I joined Toastmasters.
“As a young Toastmaster, there were instances when I felt my age would stand against me. I discovered that people generally tended to place emphasis on experience and probably that is why one’s experience is said to be something precious. At instances when I disagreed with ‘traditions’ and ‘norms’ set by others that did not comply with the club mission of Toastmasters International, I made my point by researching and learning more -and referring to relevant manuals and guidebooks.
“Being a Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) was never the ultimate goal. (Maybe being the International President of Toastmasters International could be considered as one:) ). The learning experience that Toastmasters offers goes beyond mere titles and achievements. This is why there are members who still remain in this organisation after so many years.
One of the challenges I experienced was noticing that many members took certain things for granted – from simple matters like understanding the role of a meeting’s presiding officer to speech contests rules. No one double checked the rules and regulations, or questioned the culture. As a result, there was a continuous pass down of misleading information because no one updated themselves with the current changes in the organisation.
“On these matters, I’ve always taken this approach: ‘Don’t tell me, show me where it is written. Always have rational and substantive evidence to back your claims because opinions alone cannot do much. One’s opinion may be another’s taboo practice’.
“Moving forward, I would like to practise and hone my leadership skills by taking up leadership roles that offer me first-hand experience in handling myriad situations. The skills and competencies that the education system of Toastmasters International offers is indeed very appropriate and pertinent to those who want to learn and equip themselves with knowledge and experience.
“I will forever be thankful for the platforms and learning opportunities this organisation has offered me. From learning how to organise events and handle people from different backgrounds who may have conflicting opinions, I have familiarised myself with priceless skills that I know will help me one day in the future.”
Would you like another inspiring read? Check out our president Benedict Leong’s story…This Champion Shares How Toastmasters Can Turn YOU Into a Champion!