Super Heroes…Not Everyone Wants to be One

27 May 2017

There were meant to be four prepared speeches but by Friday afternoon, only two left.  By then, I had already printed out the programme sheet and I didn’t want to waste trees equivalent of 20 sheets of paper to reprint.

Suhas couldn’t make it as well as he was assigned on Wednesday to take part in army open house held on that weekend.  I became the Table Topics master with the theme of Super Heroes set by Toastmaster of the Day, Jamie.

As I thought through the topics, I was wondering there might be people who would not wish to be a super hero.  A guest said he doesn’t want to be one because super heroes are subject to scrutiny and public opinions while Taichi would prefer to earn the super powers himself to having them bestowed on him.

Edwin’s prepared speech Never Try Never Know encouraged us to listen to our heart and not head/logic to take on risks at times.  When I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, that was my attitude.  But as I age, it seems too much is at stake, I lost the courage.

I wish I had vigour as well.  That’s the Word of the Day selected by Taichi, who recorded the number of times we vigorously used the word or its variants.

I was what E Hueen described in his The Three Seconds as I tend to think too much.  Three seconds isn’t enough to rest my racing mind and arrest my wild thoughts.

E Hueen is awaiting his national service enlistment.  He was a Toastmaster when he was studying at Temasek Polytechnic.  We didn’t know that former Toastmasters did not need to pay the one-time registration when they renew membership.  I wrote in to Toastmasters International to appeal for a waiver and we were told it wasn’t chargeable for former Toastmasters.

He clinched the Best Table Topics title at this meeting and the last.  Would there be a hat trick for this affable teen?

Saddiqi was a bit under the weather but he delivered his promise and conducted a workshop on rhetorical devices.  It was a shame that the turnout was small and just 12 of us benefited from the educational session.

Puspita, who left the club for a year for charity work, has not lost her public speaking skills.  She was a super mum and speaker, bagging the Best Table Topics Speaker title – a tie with E Hueen – and an effective project evaluator.

After the meeting, I ran through with her the duties of President and she was very quick to grasp, especially the importance of Personal Data Protection.  It made my handover easy.

After the meeting, a guest called Naveen signed up.  But another, who visited us in mid-May and had informed me before this meeting started that he was going to make payment, didn’t. Perhaps he has been turned off by my serious message in opening speech.  Jean had an explanation on why Naveen hasn’t been bothered by my opening speech – he didn’t understand what I was saying.

Yeah, Jean could be right!

20170527_144152.jpg

You don’t see me here because I was the photographer but actually I don’t like to take photographs.  I had asked why we must take photographs every session but I can’t remember the reason(s) now.

Toastmasters companion

20170513_002021.jpg

Toastmasters International has mailed my advanced project manuals to me.  I chose Speaking to Inform and Communicating on Video.  These are relevant to my job and most of the speeches are of moderate length – not too short nor long.

But I wonder when and if I would do these projects at all, given that I am taking a break.  Perhaps an indefinite one.  Nonetheless, I have had them wrapped.

Robot VPE, the only solution?

27 May 2017

With nobody willing to take on the role of Vice President Education (VPE) for the first half of next term, I delivered this opening speech in exasperation:

Some of you might be wondering why there’s no programme sheet, why wasn’t it sent out as usual.

No, it’s not been taken by the super heroes, although today’s theme is super heroes.

Doing without programme sheet could be the new norm that you have to get used to.

Why? Because we don’t have a VPE for the first half of next term, that is, from July to December.

Some of you are on course, can’t spare the time; some of you who remain in Singapore on employment pass but your employment status is uncertain, some work on most Saturdays or spend half the year overseas. Others simply don’t want to assume the role.

Perhaps we should have an equivalent of the match-making app tinder to match make speakers, evaluators, and appointment holders, with functions to draw up programme sheets and update the Google sheet that tracks our progress. But until then, a human vpe is still required.

Toastmasters is a non-profit club with no full-time staff and everyone of us is working full-time.

Who isn’t busy here? Have a show of hands. No one.

All of us are stakeholders of the Toastmasters journey and we can’t do it alone. No doubt the executive committee roles take up time, someone has to do it. But if you think “let that not be me”, it would end up that we have no VPE, no Sergeant-at-Arms, no meetings.

For those who understand Chinese,  please look at the term on the whiteboard.  What does this term 舍得 mean? It means the willingness to part with. If you look at the two characters separately, 舍 means “giving up”, 得 means “gaining”. You give up one thing but you’ll gain something in return.

For those who are looking at practical returns, being in leadership position enhances your résumé.  Those who want to make sure you’d attend meetings – like what Taichi was after  – being on the executive committee pushes you to attend meetings regularly.

For me, I just kn0w I couldn’t simply take from the club, I have to give as well. In the process of giving, what did I get in return? Opportunities like this to make you hear me out, opportunities to network with other clubs’ leaders and stronger friendship from my fellow executive committee members.

Do we have a VPE next term, you decide.  Over to you,  Toastmaster of the Day.

Coincidentally, Jean took the day off and she joked that her rare absence might reinforce my message. However, it didn’t because two days after the meeting, KUTMC still doesn’t have a VPE (for July – December) and Sergeant-at-Arms.

Selling pens… and Toastmasters

13 May 2017

Suhas was innovative in his speech Selling Anything.  He talked about tips on pitching oneself using the example of selling pens.  He concluded his speech saying if he failed to sell the pens to us, at least we could use the pens to vote for him as the Best Speaker.  He successfully got the majority of us to support him.

Besides Suhas, there were five other full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) among us that meeting.  Youngsters nowadays equip themselves with skills and make constructive use of their spare time.  It’s admirable.  Though we welcome fresh blood, I was very frank with these five who were visiting to find out more, and told them that they should visit other clubs to check out the vibes.  They must be comfortable with the club members especially when Toastmasters isn’t compulsory.  In a way, I was not selling our club but I prefer that members join willingly, voluntarily and wholeheartedly.

KUTMC had the honour of having Toastmasters Tushar, Jacky, Vernon and Gerald visited us.  I was smart not to let this golden opportunity slip by without having Tushar, Jacky and Gerald share their Toastmasters journeys with us.

Gerald quipped that some toastmasters became DTMs – not Distinguished Toastmasters (highest level a Toastmaster would attain) but disappeared Toastmaster.

It was sheer coincidence when Tushar delivered his speech on Successful Club series, which is an outline of Toastmasters programme, helping the five NSFs understand better.

Vernon would be Jacky’s successor as the Area Director for our club next term.  He became Word of the Day unplanned when we realised that Ajoy did not know he’s scheduled to take on the appointment role.  Despite being an impromptu act, Vernon played the role effortlessly and he even offered valuable tips on rhetorical devices.

The theme of the meeting was Mothers’ Day and I was tasked with Table Topics.  But instead of coming up with topics related to a mother’s traits, I had a play on the words “mother” and “mum”.  Hence, the topics were “Mother Teresa”, “mother country”, “Mumbai”, “mummy” (a dead body that is prevented from decaying by being treated with special substances before being wrapped in cloth), “mother tongue” and “mother figure” etc.

Chen Kuang, being the Toastmaster of the Day, designed an icebreaker for us to act out the various scenarios of Tiger Mum.  Jean being the only mother among us started the ball rolling, of course.

*I didn’t deliver an opening speech but used the slot to have the visiting Toastmasters share their journeys with us.
IMG-20170513-WA0012

Suhas wasn’t only selling pens, but also clinched the Best Speaker title in the process.