Perfect 10

There were only 10 of us at the chapter meeting on 27 August.  Occasionally, we do see a quieter and as a result shorter meeting because of fewer attendees.

When I was checking with Toastmasters if they would be doing their projects at this meeting, many of them replied that they wouldn’t be attending.  As a result, Toastmasters like Taichi had to take on a few roles.  He was the Sergeant-At-Arms, the Toastmaster of the Day and an evaluator.

I told him it seemed like he was running the whole show.  He had participated in Table Topics segment as well, being the first speaker selected by Table Topics master Tricia.  He always impresses me.  He said while he is over 40 years old and having hit the performance plateau in marathon running, he would still expect to improve his performance.

Prabhakar presented “Diligent” as the Word of the Day.  Tricia, Taichi and Pradeep told Prabhakar that he had shown improvement in his public speaking.  When he delivered his maiden speech, he was nervous and stiff, now he was confident.

Not only this, Prabhakar knew that he was busy and didn’t have the time to prepare a project but he tried to participate by volunteering to do Word of the Day.  His attitude and spirit were commendable.

Jun hoped to do Table Topics 10 times in a year and also learn diving, when he shared his goals during the Table Topics segment.

There was a bright spot this past week.  Taichi has got a job, after months of searching.  Thank you to Toastmaster Steven who helped to set up an interview for Taichi. Taichi said that it had been a learning experience for him in attending interviews and learning to answer the questions.  The last time he looked for a job was five years ago and it was done in Japan.  This serves as a timely reminder for all employees: stay up-to-date with your skills including the ability to handle interviews.

(Left) Prabhakar presents Word of the Day.
(Right) Perfect 10

Vocal Variety…or lack thereof

I wasted an interesting subject for my Project 6 (Vocal Variety) with an indiscernible tone for two of the characters in my speech entitled “This is DHL”.

Evaluator Pradeep thought that I was monotonous in my pitch and did not step out of my comfort zone to give the two scammers in my story a different voice.  Furthermore, I was soft when I was giving the speech.

Months ago when the DHL phone scam was prevalent, I decided I would find out more about the modus operandi to get the offenders apprehended and as a subject for my Project 6 on vocal variety.

I would say it was an interesting and suitable material for vocal variety, as you would read my script here at the bottom.

However, I had wasted the story with not enough vocal variety injected into it.  On the point of monotony, I need to read up on what exactly pitch is about.  I have to confess that I have not read the supplement to this project which I have downloaded.  Was I being complacent, lazy and put off by the pretty wordy supplement?  Yeah.

I think the lack of practice with movements had affected my delivery.  Being busy shouldn’t be an excuse because I was scheduled to speak two weeks ago but the evaluator last minute couldn’t turn up and I was still jetlagged, my project was postponed to today.

But I think fatigue did play a part in my poor performance.  I was very sleepy and had skipped breakfast. So when I spoke, at past 2pm, I had not had my first meal of the day.  I was not soft, usually.  Therefore, I was pretty surprised when Pradeep commented that I was soft.

Besides these, I think to handle two speeches – opening address and prepared speech – did take a toll on me, coupled with the last-minute script for the opening address.

Lastly, I should not have made this mistake.  While I knew I wasn’t well practised, I should just deliver without having my tablet on the lectern as a psychological crutch. I thought the tablet would make it easier for me to refer to my script if I had momentary memory lapse, it ended up impeding my performance. My insufficient practice had caused my confidence to suffer, this in turn had led me to be insecure psychologically, relying unnecessarily on the tablet.

In summary, I:

  1. shouldn’t rely on my tablet as a psychological crutch;
  2. should practise well;
  3. should read up on the supplement diligently; and
  4. go study on pitch


This is DHL, you have a parcel not picked up, to find out more, please press 9, the recorded message instructed.

If you now get a call like this, what would you do?

Afternoon, Toastmasters.

Some of you would have read about the DHL phone scam, on the pretext of catching you sending through DHL illegal materials overseas and then demanding a sum of money from you to help settle the offence.

Or you might have received such calls.

How does one be vigilant to such phone scam, given that phone scams are so prevalent nowadays? Let me share my recent experience with you.

I received a call purportedly from DHL some time ago.

I did not cut the line off, I followed the instruction and pressed 9 instead.

What do you want? The man on the other end of the line asked in Mandarin with a mainland Chinese accent.

Oh, I’ve been told I have a parcel.

What’s your name, he asked.

Huh? You called me but you don’t know my name?

This is DHL Singapore Changi South Street 2 warehouse, he said, and that i must have had a parcel sent through this.

I plucked a name out of the air and said “Tong Sharon” .

He “checked” the system using this name and said I had sent a parcel to Shanghai and the customs there had discovered that the parcel contained illicit materials, to be specific, there were 28 credit cards.

28 cards? I’m not a bank, why would I have so many cards? You must have made a mistake.

He checked with me if I had sent a parcel on 27 June and when I vehemently denied, he provided me with some background information so that I could make a police report.

He “kindly” offered to put me through to Shanghai international police.

My colleague had been listening to my conversation with the scammer.

I winked at her, trying to show her I was going to outwit the scammer, and get him and his accomplices arrested.

I googled for the number to text the Singapore police about the scam. I sms the police, saying “I received a scam call from “DHL”, and I am still talking to the scammer on landline xxxxxxxx, can you trace the call?

Trying to prolong the call, I asked the fraudster seemingly valid questions.

“Must I pay for the long distance call?”, I asked, “I don’t want to incur any charges.”

While he was putting me through to the Shanghai bogus police, reply from the real police came through sms “kindly provide us with your name, location and nature of emergency so that we can respond to you”.

Despite texting the police several messages, all I got was the same automated message reply.

Meanwhile, I was chatting with the Shanghai bogus police officer. He asked me for my particulars. I just gave him a fictional profile and when asked for occupation, I lied that I was jobless, he said “you’re in between jobs”.

“Economy is not doing well, huh?

“It’s okay, when god closed a door, he opens a window for you”.

I was indignant. This scammer had the cheek to preach when he’s trying to scam me of my hard-earned money, as he’s done to others.

I cupped the phone, while whispering to my colleague, “Selina, would you please call the police? Tell them I’m on the phone with the “DHL” scammer.

In the meantime, I continued to engage the scammer. “How do I address you? Mr Chen.”

He rattled off some information but as I was waiting for my colleague who was talking to the Singapore police, I told the bogus police officer, Mr Chen, “I’m feeling very nervous now for being accused of a serious international crime, could you slow down a bit?”

While I knew it was just a charade that I was putting up, my hands couldn’t help feeling cold.

My colleague, meanwhile, had talked to the police. She whispered, “they said they can’t trace the call without prearrangement with the telco, they advised you to hang up and not to waste your time.”

Having heard this and having spent 30 minutes on the phone with the scammer during lunch time, I decided that’s it.

Mr Chen was still going on with his spiel, totally oblivious to what I was up to.

“Mr Chen,” my tone changed from nervous to a cold one but he kept talking on and on without giving me an opportunity to interject. “Mr Chen, Mr Chen, Mr Chen, this is the Supreme Court, stop calling, stop scamming people, if you still have a conscience. ”

I hanged up.

The next time I receive a call purportedly from DHL, I’m going to reply I’m from FedEx.

Thank you.

Opening Address: You Can Be the Best

In my last opening address, I talked about the hard work and time invested to master a skill.

Singapore’s newly minted Olympic gold medalist Joseph Schooling is exemplary in this aspect.

I’m not going to talk about his punishing training schedule or the sacrifices he and his parents have made, as by now you probably would have known them by heart.

Besides proving the maxim you reap what you sow, Schooling’s story has one other message.  It’s the underdog achieving victory.

Honestly speaking, when my colleague told me Schooling had emerged the fastest in the semi final, my response was one of dismissive. I said Phelps could be conserving his energy for the final while my colleague thought that Schooling’s result was due to his younger age.  Both of us had not expected that we could hear Majulah Singapura at the Olympics.

Roughly a week after Schooling flexed his muscles to show a small nation is able to achieve great things, Singapore Toastmaster Darren Tay became the first Singaporean to be the world champion of public speaking.

Months ago, English football club Leicester City beat the odds of 5000-1 to win the coveted English Premier League title.

What are the morals of these stories:

  1. never underestimate the underdog,
  2. every underdog would have its day, as long as it doesn’t get limited by its own beliefs or doubts cast by others.

Never stop believing, you can be the best in the world.

Let’s start from here, today. You can be the best speaker, best table topics speaker or best evaluator…only if you have participated.

Let’s actively participate, for your own learning and development.


The contests

“My mind was blank… I don’t know why I am here, ” said Jamie ruefully when interviewed by the contest chair Lynn while the judges were deliberating on the results for the evaluation contest.

Jamie, Jun, Pradeep and Anthonius took part in the evaluation contest held yesterday and the winner will represent the club in the area contest.

While I didn’t contest, I could feel Jamie’s exasperation, having been through some writing tests under pressure.

Though Jamie didn’t clinch the championship, her participation in itself was admirable.

Pradeep clinched the championship for the evaluation contest, with Jun and Anthonius the first and second runners-up respectively.

Jun clinched the championship for the humorous speech contest, with Anthonius and Taichi being the first and second runners-up respectively.

Jun spoke about his family members and girlfriend’s advice to him on being himself.  Anthonius’ was about his first love while Taichi made the Japanese food natto the subject of his speech.

Hesperus and Ethan Chen Kuang, though rookies in public speaking, had made their maiden attempts in contest. Wasn’t it great to see these young people facing head on their fear of public speaking?

I should make it a goal in my public speaking journey to take part in contests to challenge myself as well.

Taichi has been doing very well in this aspect. While he said he was a timid person, he takes part in the sport that has a certain degree of danger, free diving. He claimed that speaking on the feet, that is delivering a Table Topic, is scarier than free diving.  Yet, he has the nickname of “Table Topics King”.  Because he pushes himself to face his fears and challenge his limits.

However, we might lose him should he not be able to get a job by the end of the month.  What a shame to lose someone who inspires us with his indomitable spirits.

But perhaps the time has come for him to go home to start a family and settle down, as well as near to his ageing parents in Nagano.

Whatever it is, we wish him all the best – though we would like him to be here in Singapore.

Briefing contestants before they started entertaining us with their humorous speeches.

Briefing contestants before they started entertaining us with their humorous speeches.



Natto = Durians? Hmm…



Pumping his fist, Anthonius says he was going to give it to the man who struck up a conversation with his sister.


Shhh…Evaluation contestants were so serious as they prepared for their evaluation.


Chief Judge Yen clearly enjoying the speeches.


Congratulations to the contestants who emerged winners and runners-up, what a feat!