Encouragements

Focus on the Toastmasters and care for them, and your key performance indicators (KPIs) will fall into place,  the KPIs are the means to the end, not the end itself.

Pradeep, whom I mentioned in my first blog on my public speaking learning journey, gave me the abovementioned advice (to that effect) as he wrapped up his evaluation of the chapter meeting on 25th June.

Just before the chapter meeting and installation of the executive committee, I had a brief word with Pradeep. I told him I had to meet the key performance indicators (KPIs) to earn the Distinguished Club status for our club.  Before I was elected as an executive committee officer, I didn’t know there were KPIs and the president with his/her deputies would work together to earn the recognition by satisfying some requirements including having X number of members completing their manuals. No wonder Michelle had been urging me to do my projects and yet I was taking my own sweet time as I’d not like to rush through things.

Frankly speaking, I wouldn’t care whether or not the club has the Distinguished Club status because I’m a person who puts substance over form but I have to put interest of the club before my own preference. Pradeep on hearing my concerns to meet KPIs, advised me instead to focus on caring for the members and this would in turn help the club gain its status.

I joined the club just one year but I was fortunate to have met people very kind to me.  Pradeep and Garry, despite being very senior in Toastmasters, always give me brotherly advice.

Pradeep messaged in the club’s chat group, saying he would be attending the chapter meeting for me and he’s behind our executive committee.  Touched by his camaraderie.

Garry encouraged me with his analogy of how a newbie wouldn’t decline an assignment from his/her employer just because he/she is new to the job. He has a point. That’s right, being a rookie doesn’t mean I would not be able to discharge the duties of president well. I think my concern is I find the heavy responsibility daunting and the fact that I’m not very familiar with Toastmasters system and the club.

After I delivered my inaugural speech as president, and as I took my seat, Taichi extended his hand over and congratulated me on my speech.  I was grateful because it’s an assuring gesture as i had just discharged my first duty as president.

Later, during the break for refreshments, Taichi said he liked my speech.  He felt I was sincere and I had in my speech gave recognition to everyone who has contributed.  I was heartened to hear this from Taichi.

Initially when I heard him paying compliments to my speech,  my immediate response was he liked my speech because I had recognised his contribution.  On reflection, I thought it was so mean of me. I was ashamed of myself.  It seems, I am not that sincere,  after all.  To redeem myself, I whatsapp-ed him that night to thank him for liking my speech and I appreciate his feedback, just like I appreciate what he’s been doing for the club. I added that his contribution hasn’t gone unnoticed.

I admired him for working quietly behind the scenes and therefore paid homage to him along  with other executive committee officers. While some play their role in full public view, others labour equally hard in the background.  There is no difference in their contribution, only in their roles. Leader, undoubtedly, plays an important role but that doesn’t mean that other roles can be trivialised and you need someone to play these other roles.

The meeting had incorporated an installation of executive committee officers and induction of new members. The event was graced by pioneer members and high ranking Toastmasters from the district, division and area levels. It was a who’s who gathering. And it was after the meeting, while trying to find out more about Toastmasters from Jun and Anthonius that I learned that the humble and unassuming Pradeep is a very senior officer and he used to be in charge of Toastmasters Singapore and Thailand. Wow. Talk about modesty.

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President

I have not become Vice President Education.

Nor have I become sergeant-at-arms or secretary.

I am now president of the club.  Yes, I had a fast-track progression because the original President-elect Angela had to withdraw from the post as a result of last-minute overseas assignments.

Here’s my speech at the installation – which from drafting to delivery took only eight days and broke my record.  I was fortunate that I was given the assignment when I was on leave from work and therefore I had time to craft, rewrite and practise (perhaps 30 times before I delivered to a packed room).

Hesperus, you are a new member here, what made you join toastmasters?

Lai, what about you?

Garry, you’ve been here for some time, why would you prefer to be here to, say, having a nap, playing computer games at home or watching a movie?

Just like Hesperus, Garry and Lai, and most of us here, I joined Toastmasters to develop my public speaking skills and conquer the fear of speaking in front of people.

When I joined the club one year ago, I knew nothing about appointments for meetings or executive committee.

But soon I became a timer, an ah-counter, a table topic master and a Toastmaster of the Day, the truth is I have been slow in doing my projects, so I wanted to redeem myself and be active during meetings.

I took on appointments pretty often, it was perhaps enough to give Michelle some ideas.

Some months ago, she checked with me if I would like to be the next sergeant at arms, I said I might not be able to come much earlier to set up the room.

How about secretary,  I counter proposed.  How often does the executive committee meet, I asked Michelle.

Once a quarter, she replied.

Wow, that suits me.

I’m a free-spirited person, as far as possible I like to avoid commitments.  But I can’t just benefit from the club without contributing.

So, I was to be the next secretary.

Weeks later, Jun said he would like me to be the VPE, together with Michelle, sharing her heavy workload. Michelle being a responsible and experienced VPE gave me confidence that I would be fine.

So I agreed.

When we had the election,  my supposed role hadn’t changed but I became the 1st VPE with Tricia the 2nd VPE.  Tricia, to me, seems to be a very steady person and is always on top of the situation.  I knew I would be in good hands.

Guess what?

That’s not the end of the story, of how my supposed exco role evolved,  from SAA to secretary to 2nd vpe to the official vpe.

Last Friday, Jun said the president-elect Angela had been assigned a new project that would require her to be away often and the position of the president had as a result been vacated.

Jun said he had got everything ready for the installation, except the President.

So that’s how I ended up being the president.  How I wish I had such fast track progression at work.

Jun told me to do a speech for this installation, something inspiring.

On this, I would like to share something very honest.

A few months after I joined toastmasters, the thought of quitting fleeted across my mind.

I found myself spending much more time than expected on toastmasters.

I would read the manual for each project before embarking on the research for my speech. Just gathering information for my draft could take me the whole month. And I would watch YouTube for ideas and tips.

Furthermore, after each chapter meeting, I would blog about it, on what transpired, what I should have done and how I should improve.  Blogging takes about 2-3 hours.

But the thought of quitting was quickly extinguished at the following meeting,  when Garry the Toastmaster of the day, reminded us why YOU and I walked through THAT door in the first place.

Yes. That’s right.

Why?  We’re here to hone our public speaking skills.

For you to have walked through that door and are STILL here today, you deserve a round of applause.

Now, give the toastmasters next to you a pat on the back, as well.

As the slogan of Liverpool football club says

YOU NEVER WALK ALONE

Your public speaking learning journey in the past year would NOT have been possible without this GREAT team.

We were privileged to have Jun for the past 2 years,  as the President, who has set the bar too high for me; VPE Michelle who had to fill whatever appointments not taken up at meetings.

Working equally hard behind the scene were VPM Tricia, VPPR Garry and SAA Taichi.

Eg, we have this room ready for use, the projector flashing our ideas and even the Styrofoam cups that we drink from, it’s all thanks to the SAA, Taichi.

Taichi would arrive earlier than us but be the last to leave,  to set up the room before meetings and clean up the place after meetings.

Without them, their selfless contribution, their effective facilitation, we’d not have been able to sharpen our skills here and let the butterflies in our stomach fly in formation.

Please give them a round of applause.

*Next, a lady who deserves our recognition as well. She would have been here addressing you if not for her work engagements, let’s show our appreciation for Angela.*

As for the term ahead,  please give YOUR utmost support to YOUR vpe sheila,  YOUR vpm lynn, YOUR vppr Michelle, YOUR SAAs Jamie and Taichi, as well as me.

We would, to the best of our abilities, make your learning journey as fruitful as possible .

Before I wrap up this speech, let’s remind ourselves why we are here – let’s shout it out.

Let’s REMEMBER this.

Thank you.

** Was not delivered because Angela was absent.

Toastmaster of the Day, Episode 3

14 May 2016

I thought I would improve my performance as a Toastmaster of the Day this time round but I felt that it was a letdown.

Bearing in mind the lesson I learned from being a Toastmaster of the Day in March – my second time as one – I did my preparation this time but having worked late the past week did not afford me the luxury to be better prepared.  Also, the fact that I finished work only at 11.30pm on Friday, I was not as alert as I wish I were.  Therefore, I relied a lot on my script and not doing enough ad lib, tapping contents from the speeches of other speakers.

Or perhaps I don’t have sufficient practice, I wonder.

What I should have done:

  • After welcoming the Toastmasters and guests, draw their attention to the amendments to the programme – which I did but quite late in the day.
  • Talked about the importance of making eye contact, before gathering Toastmasters to the side of the room to play the game.
  • After introducing the Table Topics Master, I should be the one explaining what this segment is about and the time allotted.
  • During the Evaluation segment, I should have mentioned the time alloted for each evaluator.

Here’s my script but it wasn’t complete.


Introduction

Good afternoon, the president, Fellow Toastmasters and guests, I’m Peck Gek, your Toastmaster of the Day.

Welcome to the  【★   】 chapter meeting of Kampong Ubi Toastmasters Club.

Shall we stand up and recite the club’s mission to remind ourselves the benefits of being a member of this club.

Please be seated, thank you.

 

★Game
Making eye contact is important when delivering a speech but sometimes we are too shy to look at people in the eye but making eye contact establishes an immediate bond with an audience.

We are going to play a game to practise making eye contact.  The game is called Wink Murder.

Every one of you will draw a card but please don’t show it to others.  The person who draws an Ace  is the murderer and kills by winking at your victims,

You must not avoid making eye contact with one another because the objective is to identify the murderer while trying not to be killed. 

But you get instantly killed giving an incorrect guess.

When you are winked at, you’re killed and you can “die” in any way,  quietly or make it known.

 

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Who’s the Wink Murderer? 

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★Opening Address

It has been sometime since we last heard from Jun, who has been missing in action.  He’s going to address us today.

 

★Speeches

Before we proceed with the prepared speeches, I’d like to first introduce two appointment holders for today’s meeting, they are Manish  as the Timer and Lynn as the Ah-counter.

Timer will flash at the 【★   】  minute flash the green card, 【★   】   minute the yellow card, the 【★   】 minute the red card followed by a buzz at 【★   】 minutes.

The Ah-counter keeps track of the pause-fillers a Toastmaster uses in his or her speech, eg umm, so,etc.

We will have the timer and ah counter deliver their reports later.

 

We have got  [★Number                         ] Toastmasters delivering prepared speeches today.

Edwin

Edwin clinched the Best Speaker title for his project 4 and today he’s going to share with us for Project 5,  interesting insights into corporate finance, stakeholders and creating value.

Title of his speech is “Corporate Finance – ‘Creative’ numbers”.

Evaluator for Edwin’s speech is  Taichi, Competent Communicator.

Taichi, please read out the objectives of  Project 5 and the time allotted.

Thank you, Taichi.

Edwin please.

Subject on finance is a favourite topic of one of our Toastmasters, Steven.  Now Edwin is probably giving Steven a run for his money [pun intended].

 

Lynn

Lynn is doing her project 10 and she’ll be a competent communicator upon completion.  Title of her speech is The 99 Club. Garry, Competent Toastmaster, Competent Leader, is evaluating Lynn’s speech this afternoon and let’s hear from Garry on the project’s objectives and time allotted. 

Thank you, Garry.


Do you want to find out how to join this club?  Find out from Lynn.  There you go, Lynn.


So, that’s The 99 Club. Would you want to join?

 

Manish

Manish talked about his gym-going experience and how he went from flab to fab for the last project.  Today, he is doing his project 7: Research Your Topic, and his speech is about…hmm… I think this is really going to benefit me…. the title of his speech is From Stupid to Smart. 

Manish’s speech will be evaluated by Ajoy,  and Ajoy, please tell us about the project’s objectives and time allotted. Thank you,  Ajoy.

From Stupid to Smart, Manish. 


Thank you for the enlightening speech, Manish.

 

Garry

Garry’s embarking on Project 1 from The Entertaining Speaker advanced manual and the speech is coincidentally titled “Little Foot: Small Steps to Big Changes”

Synopsis: Last Thursday I was invited to speak as Guest of Honour to a group of junior college students. The occasion was the Installation of their new Interact Club board. I spoke to the incoming board’s theme (referred to below) with some ideas of my own
 

The theme for the incoming board is:

“From the movie ‘The Land Before Time’, it talks about a group of dinosaurs led by Little Foot. The film explores issues of prejudice faced by the different species, just like the people with special needs in our community. Our aim is to create a homogeneous community, where people accept one another for their differences.

As one CCA, no matter what differences, we will have to work together. We cannot get through things on our own all the time and may need to involve the help of others. Being able to work with others enable us to overcome obstacles and challenges that we may face throughout our Interact journey. Similarly to Little foot and together with our united club, our aim is to make great impacts in our community through the small actions that we make.”

Garry’s speech will be evaluated by Cathy, Competent Communicator, Please tell us about the project’s objectives and time allotted. Thank you.


★Table Topics

★★an excellent way to help members develop their ability to organize their thoughts quickly and respond to an impromptu question or topic. Today’s topics are: ★★

Timer [★Name                        ] will flash at the 【★   】  minute flash the green card, 【★   】   minute the yellow card, the 【★   】 minute the red card followed by a buzz at 【★   】 minutes.

Guests Outnumber Members

We had a Toastmaster’s session today and guess what, the number of guests exceeded that of members.

There were only seven members while there were at least 12 guests either from other clubs or they were Anthonious’ friends.  But Tricia’s effort was commendable, despite losing her voice, she attended and participated.

It reminded me of Garry’s reminder- why we walked through that door in the first place – when I noticed that members were outnumbered by guests.  Not that I minded because it was a different experience to have many guests among us.  They offered their perspectives, their advice and their experience.

Among the guests, there was Angela Lansbury from UK, Marshall from a local club Star Millennium, and a couple with their three kids (and maid) in tow.  Wasn’t that lovely?

Michelle doubled as Toastmaster of the Day in addition to being the evaluator for the speech by guest speaker Harsh.  She cleverly used master, expert and guru to avoid over-using one of these terms.  A pointer I must remind myself.

I did my project 4 today.  I was grateful to Pradeep (my evaluator) as well as Gerald and Anthonius (the last two volunteered their suggestions) for their evaluations.  Besides their evaluation, I would perform my own review, as usual.

While I did much more rehearsals than I did for my project 3, I still did not manage to perform to what I had planned it to be.  I reckoned this was due to public speaking anxiety.  I think that I was very inhibited and not open, after seeing how Harsh delivered his speech.  This is a weakness I must work on too.

And I forgot to read the Evaluation Guide on the last page of the project to see what is expected of me, on top of the objectives for this project.

In addition, I never know how I should stand or pace around the podium.  If permitted, I would like to remove my shoes and stand or walk barefooted to make myself as comfy as possible.  Anthonius has observed the way I placed my feet as he sat just next to me.  He also said I had blocked the slides. (Reminder: check the screen before I start my speech to ensure I won’t be in the way of audience’s view)

Here are Pradeep’s and Gerald’s learned evaluations of my speech:

Pradeep:

  • Make clear the objectives and lead the audience through a clear structure, eg, How many of you would like to fall in love (Oh, but my objective is just to inform audience what trigger the reactions when they see the persons they like)
  • Conclusion should summarise the essence of my speech in case some audience members had missed parts of it, and tie it in with the opening.

 

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Pradeep’s outline for his speech on evaluation of my Project 4.

Gerald:

  • The project is How To Say It, it’s not about informing the audience but to use rhetorical devices to help them conjure up images
  • Example of this project speech could be about an event – a walk in the park
  • Could learn forward when asking “Did you know”

 

 

Toastmaster of the Day Episode 2

Having played the role of Toastmaster of the Day (TMD) in January led me to be complacent this time round.

I volunteered to be the TMD after seeing no takers despite Michelle’s repeated appeals. I have to confess I did not make much preparation, unlike my maiden attempt. Perhaps I was complacent, thinking that I could pull it off by tapping on my experience in January. I wasn’t satisfied with my performance today and I shall put in more efforts in future, I promise.

It was a small turnout today. There were only 11 of us, including the three speakers for projects. Edwin Chen (we had a guest by the name of Edwin at today’s meeting) won the best speaker. His description of his first boss was vivid. We might not have met this man but now we know his work style through the adjectives and analogies Edwin peppered throughout his speech. Edwin did his project 4, as did Zhe Wei. Both joined the club later than me but were ahead of me in doing their projects. I’m going at a slow pace but I tried to do some speaking as TMD and Table Topics master.

For today’s Table Topics, my topics were If I were X… what X would I be? Eg, if I were a smartphone app, what app would I be? I downloaded a roulette app to create the effect of spinning a wheel to draw a number to decide who will speak. Alas, the wheel does not accommodate the demand for skipping or removing a number after it’s been drawn.  I had to abandon the wheel midway.

As it was a small turnout, we ended earlier than usual. Next meeting is a month’s away. I SHOULD do my next project, hopefully.

Upon reflection of today’s role as TMD, I should have done these:

  • Welcome them to the 211th chapter meeting before reciting the mission.
  • Stress the importance of communication in the game Birthday Lineup, especially after a guest whose birthday was out of order.
  • Introduced the roles of and the Toastmasters playing the timer and ah-counter.
  • Briefly talk about the speakers and their speech titles.
  • Read out the title of Zhe Wei’s speech.

 

Below is the script for my TMD’s role today:

Good afternoon, the President, fellow Toastmasters and guests Let’s remind ourselves of Kampong Ubi Toastmasters Club’s mission by reciting it together. Please stand up. Thank you.

Game Birthday Lineup

Explain that this is a silent game. Nobody is to communicate by speaking. Instead they must use gestures. Lip reading is not allowed. The object of the game is to line up in birthday order. For example people born in January will be at the head of the line and people in December will be at the end. Only month and date are use. Years are ignored. When everyone is in the line, they may say their birthday out loud to see if they got the order correct.

It seems like yesterday when Michelle addressed us at the first meeting of the year on the theme New Year New Beginning. In the blink of an eye, a quarter has almost passed. Have you taken stock of what you have done in these three months? In particular, are you satisfied with your efforts in Toastmasters?

When Garry delivered the opening address at the end of February, he said the club has some 120 members but only about 20 would attend each meeting. He wanted us to remind ourselves why we walked through that door. A timely reminder indeed. I, for one, am guilty of not conscientiously doing my projects. I would like to confess I did only one project this quarter.

But many of you have made greater progress. Eg Taichi enlightened us on what apnea was, intrigued us with the gorilla most of us had missed in Seeing is not Beliving and refreshed our knowledge of secondary school mathematics in his contest speech on Pythagarus Theorem. He and Pradeep, Jamie, Lynn and Antonius took part in the club contests marking milestones in their Toastmaster journey. Kudos to them. Pradeep did us proud by talking his way, pun intended, into Area Contest championship.

I was the timer for our club’s contest. In case you mistake that I joined the club just to be the ah counter or timer, I’m proving you wrong. I’m your the Toastmaster of the Day and Table Topics master today. Let’s have fun today and keep on speaking…

Speeches

We have got Toastmasters delivering prepared speeches. Each has ★★ minutes to speak.

◆Timer

Today’s timer ★★ would flash at the ★th minute flash the green card, ★th minute the yellow card, the ★th minute the red card followed by a buzz at ★.5 minutes.

◆Ah counter

keeps track of the pause-fillers a Toastmaster uses in his or her speeches, eg umm, so, etc. We will have the timer and ah counter to deliver their reports later.

Table Topics

an excellent way to help members develop their ability to organize their thoughts quickly and respond to an impromptu question or topic. Today’s topics are: If I were…

Thought-provoking Speeches

28 February 2016

Garry in opening address reminded us why we joined the Toastmasters’ club. He said the club has about 120 members but there would only be about 20 attendees every session.

It was a timely reminder – at least to me – because the thought of quitting fleeted across my mind when I was preparing my present project. I found this time- consuming. It took me roughly two weeks to draft and practise a speech.  I am impressed by Taichi who has consistently been delivering a prepared speech every month and his projects were not short of research for the subject.

Newcomer Sheila did her maiden speech and kudos to her, her performance was good and she was calm. Her speech titled “Searching for my place in the sun” has a lesson for me as well. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I was once. Currently I am lost and stuck in a rut, in dire need to find “my place in the sun”.

Taichi reflected on his relationship with his parents and how it improved after he learned to appreciate kinship while living in India for four years. As usual, this speaker was methodical/scientific, he estimated he would have a total of only 25 days in the next decade with his elderly father. I reckon that he will probably go back to Japan soon to spend more time with his parents. We’ll miss this Toastmaster.

Angela was table topics master and the topics that surfaced in this session included your most memorable experience, something about you that surprises others and your dream job.

These reminded me of oral exam questions and among the topics, “dream job” was the one that I think I could tickle a funny bone or two. I would say playing Santa Claus would be my dream job. It’s simple and it works only one day in a year and it is a popular personality.

I was glad Angela “picked” me – she was looking at me when inviting speakers for the table topics.  I wanted to buck up after reflecting on my performance at the Toastmasters in recent months and had felt that I had not been speaking enough.  I talked about my flat feet as something that would surprise others.  Perhaps it wasn’t surprising as none of the fellow Toastmasters looked amazed.  I did not come up with a structure before I spoke.   There should be an opening, body and closing.  I need improvement in impromptu speaking and lots of practice to achieve thinking and speaking on the feet.

Besides speeches that caused one to do some introspection, a speech by visiting Toastmaster from Buona Vista, was greatly entertaining and his delivery was almost perfect.  Joyce was as entertaining as Tushar in her evaluation of his speech and she was clever in the play of words, eg both dead fish and dead-end job stink but he’s the largest catch in the tank. Excellent!

 

 

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Visual Illusion

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We met on the eve of Valentine’s Day but none of the prepared speeches touched on this festival for lovers.

Taichi talked about what we see might not be the truth or the complete picture.  He illustrated the message with some compelling examples and I was very impressed.

Taichi spoke about apnoea for his last project and I found his topics intriguing. Perhaps his interests in scientific contents could explain his dislike for horror movies.  He couldn’t understand why moviegoers would want to watch a show that they are scared of.  He perhaps needs scientific explanation for this before he is able to accept that people go for the thrills,  just like why people take rollercoaster rides.

Edwin presented a sobering picture of gambling.  Gamblers paid a price for this vice – some even lost their lives.

Zhe Wei’s moral of his speech is the lessons to be learned from monkeys.  What an apt topic, given that we have just stepped into the year of the Monkey.  This made me ashamed because I have not progressed to the next project as I have not been able to find a suitable topic.  I should learn from Zhe Wei in drawing ideas from everyday life.

Zhe Wei reminded us to let go of worldly possessions when necessary through an anecdote of a monkey falling prey to trap and could have been able to extricate itself if it was willing  to let go of the bait.  He then used Journey to the West’s fictional character Monkey King to remind us to be versatile and adaptable as the Monkey King. This is appropriate in times of changes.

Garry entertained us with his jokes on husband and wife given that the following day being Valentine’s Day. His jokes weren’t conventional yet very entertaining. His wife must feel amused having such a humorous partner always lightening up her day.

It has been quite some time since I last spoke on a table topic yet I avoided making eye contact with Jun when he asked for volunteers. Aint I being Toastmaster to improve my public speaking skills but why I did not take up the opportunity to speak? Perhaps I’m getting comfortable being the timer or ah-counter. I must not waste such opportunities or my time attending but not making good use of the meeting.