It’s an undeniable fact that women achieve the things they put their mind and soul into. In this blog I will be interviewing one such inspirational woman, who happens to be one of the UK’s Best Female Toast Masters and not just that, Sonal Dave is a singer, She is an Actress, An Event Planner and is definitely an inspiration for many in her own way.
Since many of us are not too familiar with the “Toast Master” term;
A Toastmaster is a pivotal person for any important occasion or an event which requires a certain degree of formality and Toast Master is the person who helps you achieve that, Because Formal occasions can be unnerving for a lot of people, as most of us are inexperienced at either organizing or even attending such events. A Toast Master is responsible for making formal announcements and overlooking of a smooth and glitch free event.
Now that we’ve got a basic understanding of a Toast Master, Let’s hear Sonal’s story and let’s roll this fun interview which I like to call as “17 Questions with Sonal“.
How does one become a Toast Master?
Each Toastmaster Association has its own way but let me tell you about the association I am with – The English Toastmasters Association. Initially you apply by emailing or calling Richard Palmer who is the founder and then he will have a chat with you getting to know you and asking a number of questions. Then, if successful, its 3 days of training initially, I say initially as you can contact Richard at any time for refresher training or any guidance or advice so the training is really ongoing.
What is the difference between an Anchor, the Master of Ceremonies and a Toast Master according to you?
So in the UK we do not really use the term Anchor, but we do use Master of Ceremonies and Toastmaster. A Master of Ceremonies will most likely be on stage at an event whether its a charity event, community event or a stage show and there is no set uniform. A Toastmaster would wear their full uniform and were previously seen at weddings & civic events but now a days they can be seen at all types of events.
What’s the best part of being a Toast Master?
I love looking after and caring for people. Seeing the smile on faces as the event is managed to time and the family, friends and guests all feel like they know who to go and who will look after them. Taking away the stress from the bride and bridegroom on the day and letting them sit back and enjoy the special moments. Making the announcements and getting everyone involved. There is so much more.
Which is your fondest memory as a Toast Master?
Each event has it’s own memories, but if you want me to name one then it would have to be being a Toastmaster at a same-sex wedding. I was so happy to be a part of this and celebrate not only the couples’ big day but celebrating the fact that times are moving forward in society.
Since when did you take up singing?
I have been singing since I was born. Apparently, I used to sing in sur / key as I cried. However it became more of a reality whilst at school when my music teacher spotted that I had a voice.
Who are the contemporary artists that you’d like to perform with?
Salim-Suleiman, Sunidhi Chauhan, Ram Sampath…
Please share us your recent playlist, because sharing is caring 😉
As Navratri is approaching my play list has bhajans and Garba that I will be singing at my weekend events but my playlist would normally have a mixture of Michael Jackson (The Way You Make Me Feel), John Lennon (Imagine), The Temptations (My Girl), Shreya Ghosal (Sun Raha), Chaka Khan (Ain’t Nobody), Wicked (Defying Gravity), Frozen (Let it Go), Phil Collins (In the air tonight), Extreme (More Than Words), Salim-Suleiman (Coke Studios).
Where or Who do you draw your inspiration from?
There are so many people that I draw inspiration from but if I had to name a couple they would be Oprah Winfrey and Gandhiji. More recently Sharn from Desi Bride Dreams, Bhavna from Successful Superwomen, Zamiha from Professional Asian & Recommend Asian and of course Richard Palmer of the English Toastmasters Association.
I saw your amazing ad in which you were featured, how was your experience working in ad films?
Cameras and I are best friends. It was an amazing experience being flown out to Miami, Great hotel, car, driver etc but it was hard work and long hours. I would still do it again. Just waiting for the right offer.
Talking about movies and films, Who is Bollywood actor you’d like to work with?
Now that is a really interesting question. So before I got married it was Saif Ali Khan and now it could be Ranveer Singh but my ultimate goal would have to be Amitabh Bachan; a hero of decades.
If you were to choose only one as your profession, would you rather be an Actress, Event Planner, Singer or a Toast Master?
Ooh now that is a really interesting question. Now how shall I set out my reply? So I think it would be a Toastmaster or Celebrant that can sing and act – is that ok – lol.
Initially when you started out, what was the biggest challenge you faced in the Event Industry?
So in the past, the Toastmaster & Event industries were heavily male dominated. So, as an Asian Female I had a number of challenges a)being a woman b) being asian and c) being a newcomer to the profession.
If you had to go back in time and make one career change what would it be?
I would have left my long-term, full-time employment much earlier to pursue my dreams.
Has social media helped you pick up your business? Which is your favorite platform that provides you with maximum leads?
Social media has definitely helped to pick up the business and let more people know that I exist. At this point FB has played a big part, with Instagram not far behind. However, this could change at any time.
What are your thoughts on the conventional “Word of Mouth” marketing strategy?
Word of Mouth marketing strategy should never stop. It is in itself an immediate recommendation or reference.
What are the 5 most important things one needs to possess in order to excel as a Toastmaster or Celebrant?
You must be able to Listen to Understand not listen to respond.
You must be a Great communicator.
You must be organised and meticulous.
You must be able to work well with people.
You must love being a Toastmaster & Celebrant.
What is a Celebrant?
A Celebrant is a person who will conduct a non-religious ceremony or service the way you want it to be conducted. You will often hear an individual say “well I don’t want it that way. I want it done how I want it”. Now, if it relates to a wedding, funeral, renewal of vows or a naming ceremony for a child then its a Celebrant you want. Word of warning though – you must still comply with any legal requirements. If you want to find out more just get in touch.
Are you really 50 years Old!?
Yes I am, so the moral of the story is that it is never too late to follow your dreams.
A word of advice to the youngsters out there, who are trying to pursue their event managing dream?
“Dare to Dream & Dare to be Different”. We now live in a world where it is ok to go and do things that are outside of the box. Do lots of research. Don’t be afraid to reach out and speak to people, ask their advice and guidance. You must invest in yourself. so what I mean is don’t sit there waiting for it to happen, you have to get up and do it yourself. I recently met Sharn Khaira through a Mastermind and one of the things that I learnt from her is to have a positive mindset. If you look at everything through a negative lens then yes your world will be negative. If you look at every negative challenge and turn it around to be positive then you are on the road to positivity and positivity helps you achieve your dreams…… “The World is Your Stage.”
Thank you so much Sonal for having this little chat with me, I have to admit that I went through all your answers over and over again, not just to proof read but your references and your ideologies gave me life and the fact that you still are going strong at the age of 50, makes me wonder if I can be half as accomplished as you when I’m your age. I’m sure you will inspire a lot of people just the way you inspired and charmed me through with your politeness, patience and humbleness.
If you’d like to know more about Sonal Dave’s work don’t forget to check her social handles and website;
HONESTLY, THIS IS MY FAVORITE AD CURRENTLY, Move over Meryl Streep, Hello Sonal Dave, whatte show, whatte show (Read in Anil Kapoor’s style in Slumdog Millionaire)
Watch Video – SONAL – A STAR IS BORN.
That’s the end of this blog, If you want me to feature you in my blogs, reach me out and don’t forget to use the hashtag #EsseTakesOn. below are my social handles;