Change is the end result of all true learning.” – Leo Buscaglia

Everybody wants to be able to speak effectively and, thus, have a commanding presence in a room. I want the same. The ability to communicate well is an indispensable leadership skill. Trouble is that I have a neurological speech disorder called dysarthria, as a result of a motor vehicle accident. Dysarthria makes one’s speech slurred and difficult to comprehend. It is difficult for me to control and coordinate the muscles that produce speech. In the years following my accident, I had countless hours of speech therapy with the aim of strengthening my articulator muscles.

However, speech therapy alone can only take you so far, it would not be able to help me become the leader I long to be. Leadership skills can be taught – one can learn how to think, solve, communicate, collaborate and lead. But at the very core of all these skills is self-confidence.

My accident, which caused me to lose many of my abilities, also led me to lose much of my self-confidence. While some may call me unlucky, I happen to consider myself one of the fortunate few – I was able to apply to and was admitted at a top business school, the Yale School of Management (SOM), that would allow me to continue my quest for learning how to lead. Business schools are professional schools, which helps students become more competitive as they launch their careers. Could a business school really teach me the confidence I need to secure good internships and jobs? For one, how could it teach me to speak effectively and impressively in class presentations, during job interviews, and in meetings, whether at the university or at the workplace? As I would soon discover, one can indeed be taught to develop leadership skills simply by getting the opportunity to actually practice what is learned in the classroom – to think well, solve accurately, communicate effectively, collaborate collegially and lead wisely, in real life. But to speak effectively is something I have had to work at on my own.

While I haven’t magically been transformed into the most eloquent speaker just yet, I can now say that I have given many a successful class presentation and recently even volunteered to speak publicly for 15 minutes to an audience of approximately 50 people at a weekly event. I was quite nervous at first, but then relaxed when I got up on stage and saw the many friendly faces in the audience. After the talk finished, I received many compliments and positive feedback from friends and acquaintances on the content of my talk as well as on keeping the audience engaged with my wit. One might wonder if the outcome would have been the same if I were facing an audience populated primarily by strangers, as is the norm. To that, I say that with conviction that I will manage to succeed even then. I will continue to always have a thirst for learning.

With the help of resources for workplace productivity like Harappa Education’s online courses, I will forever be a student even after I graduate with an MBA. I will keep trying to achieve perfection, and I hope to be an effective speaker and leader one day.


Tarini Mohan is a graduate of Wellesley College, US, and is currently an MBA candidate at the Yale School of Management, US. A summer intern at Harappa Education focusing on product development, she loves her cuppa of joe, listening to jazz and exploring Delhi’s delightful culinary scene.

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