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.

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


Express to Impress…NOT.

Perhaps I am not a persuasive speaker. Or I am not one yet.

I have delivered a persuasive speech but I did not manage to persuade the project evaluator Jacky and general evaluator Pradeep that I made it.

Jacky recommended that I use myself as an example of how having read the book that I was sharing with members would make the speech more persuasive.  That’s the Before-After effect to enhance persuasion.

And instead of talking about the book, I should share the benefits of reading the book, that is the why.

Lastly, he said that I should adopt more open gestures with wide-stretched arms in my delivery.

Pradeep bluntly said that I did not meet the project objectives, as the speech should be about my viewpoint and opinion, not the author’s.  He added that selling is not allowed and that I sounded like a publicist or agent for the author.

I note their points…but I’m confused by their comments.

Just like to explain how and why I crafted my speech this way.

I read the book only a week ago and have not had the opportunity to put the techniques into practice.  Therefore, there’s no Before-After effect to talk about.

While I used the contents of the book as illustration, this is to show the benefits of reading it. Perhaps I wasn’t direct or explicit in drawing the link between reading the book and the benefits. How does one know what benefits a product offers without knowing the features of the product?  Eg, if the customer wants a car, you would sell on the features including speed, safety and price. No?

As for the comments by Pradeep, with respect, I wonder if they were valid.

I wasn’t selling the book. In fact, I didn’t even buy my copy, it’s from the library. I don’t know the author personally either.

And I am not sure if selling is prohibited by Toastmasters International.  Though I must categorically deny that I was selling.

While the tips I shared in my speech were from the book, they were, in my opinion, helpful and relevant to the members.

You may think I am being defensive or sore about the criticisms. I am not.

I accept the point about the gestures or the lack of Before-After effect. In fact, not only these, I feel I might have looked stiff – I need to relax a bit more.

I have delivered nine projects with one more to go before completing the manual. While I am somewhat more steady and confident in speaking, I feel my skill still sucks. I don’t agree with Pradeep’s assessment that I have improved – from a kindergarten student to an A-level 3 (Is there A-level 3? Perhaps he meant pre-university year 3). I still have a very long way to go to being a consummate speaker.

This project has dealt a dent to my confidence.  I am not certain if I could handle project 10 on inspirational speech, especially when I am never a ra-ra person.

Perhaps it’s good to have a break after doing 10 projects.  It’s been taxing and draining since I took over as president. And I think I am merely running the club without leading it.

Time to take stock after I step down.  Looking forward to it.

Stepping down will take a load off my shoulders.


Good afternoon, Toastmasters and guests.

Among prepared  speeches, table topics and evaluation,WHICH segments of Toastmasters meeting do you find  the most DAUNTING?

Toastmaster Taichi, why?

Like Toastmaster Taichi, I find table topics nerve-racking as well. You know I do, if you have noticed I would look away during appropriate times during Table Topics, or look at Table Topics King Taichi and signal to him to volunteer himself.

Toastmaster Jean, when you were about to make your first attempt at project evaluation,  you asked me if there’s a template for it.  Remember?

Like Toastmaster Jean, when I first tried my hand at speech evaluation, I wondered what I should look out for.

So, every time I need an answer, be it on how to make Table Topics less of a menace or how to structure a project evaluation, I would do what some if not most of you would do – Google.

But, recently I stumbled upon a book and it provides most of the answers I need.

It’s entitled Express to Impress[prop] . And I STRONGLY RECOMMEND you read it.[prop]

Why SHOULD you read Express to Impress?

Because it offers a WEALTH of TIPS , STRATEGIES and TECHNIQUES.

Look at the contents page of the book, there are 11 chapters.

The author touched on a VARIETY of topics, ranging from the myths of public speaking to understanding different genres of speech, to tickling the audience with humour.

Therefore, Express to Impress introduces you to different aspects of public speaking.

Some of you might say, even if the book has a LOT of information if it’s not HELPFUL, not USEFUL, then it’s not MEANINGFUL.

That brings me to the OTHER reason why you SHOULD read Express to Impress.

Because the materials are PRACTICAL and HIGHLY RELEVANT to us.

Express to Impress was written by someone like YOU AND ME – a Toastmaster.  Author DARREN TAY is from Punggol Toastmasters Club.

He shared in the book his TRIED-AND-TESTED public speaking techniques, strategies and tips.

Darren is the 2016 World Champion of Public Speaking. He is the first Singaporean to have clinched the coveted title.

Toastmaster Taichi, Express to Impress says you can prepare for table topics, would you like to know how.

Preparing for table topics is akin to preparing for job interviews. We go to a job interview with prepared answers to expected questions like why should we hire you.

According to Express to Impress, we can prepare for Table Topics too, by practising topics of various genres

Eg, Darren prepared at least 10 stories and practised for months before a  contest, with each of his story having more than one message. The message that he would deliver at the contest then depends on the Table Topic he is given.

There you go, while Table Topics requires you to deliver an impromptu speech, it DOESN’T mean it CAN’T be prepared.

Toastmaster Jean, Express to Impress has tips on PROJECT EVALUATION, keen to find out?

Darren, in Express to Impress, recommended the use of several techniques for project evaluation. I’ll share with you two of the techniques here.

Technique #1. Be specific.

Don’t just say your speech was good, but elaborate on what made the speech good.

Technique #2 Be creative.  Eg,  your speech title is LOVE, let me then use the acronym LOVE to evaluate your speech.
L for Logical flow, O for organisational structure, V for Vigour of your delivery and E for Enhancement.

As for me, using a tip from the book, I have started building a bank of phrases and contents for use in future speeches.  Eg, I hardly paid attention to advertising slogan. But the advertising slogan of isotonic drink 100 plus is now in my bank of phrases.  The drink uses the power of three in its advertising slogan -rehydrate, refresh and re-energise.

Having shared snippets from Express to Impress, it’s not hard to see why you should read Express to Impress[prop]. And I urge you to read it.

Express to Impress[prop]offers YOU a wealth of practical and highly relevant public speaking tips.

By tapping Darren’s rich experiences crystallised in the book[prop], we could cut short our learning curve.

Express to Impress[prop]will EXPRESS your Toastmasters journey, leaving you IMPRESSED