Parting Words

It was the second last opening speech for me as president, and I wanted to share something more personal and cosy.

It wasn’t perfect, and the ending was a bit abrupt. I could have ended the speech better. Here’s my heartfelt speech:

Good afternoon. 
What shall I say as my term as President draws to an end?  
Let’s see this club report and you would know how Kampong Ubi Toastmasters performed in the past year.  (*Slide)
The club has barely passed, with only five out of 10 goals met. We lack the advanced communicator awards and grossly short of leadership awards.
With just five goals achieved, it’s historic low for kampong ubi toastmasters. (*slide)
I must say I am responsible and it’s due to my poor planning, otherwise the club should have produced at least a competent leader. 
I should have let Taichi be either the organising or contest chair in March, otherwise he wouldn’t be just one role shy of the award of competent leader.
My apologies to Taichi and all of you.
I hope the club’s performance in the coming term would improve under the new leadership and with your contributions.
Serious stuff aside, how do you improve your public speaking learning journey? 
Toastmaster Jeremy, what do you do besides preparing your speeches, taking in the pointers from evaluation?
For me, I blog.
I blog about the toastmasters journey and experiences. For example, how I felt when I was delivering my maiden speech. (* slide)
I reviewed my speeches in my blog, to see what I could do to improve. (*slides)

I blog about the thought-provoking and inspiring messages from the meetings.(*slide)

I blog about you. (*slide)
For example, our marathon runner Taichi who confessed that he has not 1, not 3 but 11 pairs of running shoes.
Jamie’s first words after the contest.
Chen Kuang and Hesperus took part in contest though they had just joined.

I blog about the fun we had.
I blog about your milestones.
I blog about your victories.
I blog about your magic.
I blog about your best.
Thank you for everything.

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We had fun!

I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

Jamie who participated in International Speech and Table Topics contests won in both, being the victor and second runner-up respectively.

She touched the hearts of the judges with her speech entitled “Quit”.  Unlike conventional speeches that exalt the merits of persisting, she took on a different tag – quitting sometimes is necessary when the route doesn’t turn out to be what you had imagined.

I like Taichi’s Personal Best. It was peppered with humour, and the subject on besting ourselves in public speaking and other aspects struck a chord with me. Lynn thought he would win. But his non ra-ra style might have been under-appreciated.

Both Anthon and Tricia spoke on their personal tribulations, but they had different messages.  Anthon’s was about wedding lasts only a day but a marriage lasts a lifetime, and it won’t be a Disney’s story that always has a happy ending.  Tricia wanted us to volunteer ourselves and it might not be in a big way – as trivial as holding the door for someone whose hands might not be free.

Regardless of who won the contest, I appreciate their efforts.  They have helped me avert going down the history of Kampong Ubi Toastmasters as the president whose term saw no contest or contestants.

Thank you very much.

As for Table Topic contest, I selected the quote by Thomas Edison “I’ve not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”.

Suhas who has been with Toastmasters barely two months, emerged the first runner-up.  During the interview while the chief judge was tabulating the results, I asked Suhas who he thought would be the winner.  This young man was very honest and without much thinking said “Pradeep”. I told him, he should give a politically correct reply – Everyone’s a winner.

Pradeep, whom Suhas has considered to be the winner, came in victorious.

The results for the contests were as follows:

International Speech:

  1. Jamie
  2. Tricia

Table Topic Speech:

  1. Pradeep
  2. Suhas
  3. Jamie

In closing, I delivered this speech weaving in the titles of the four International Speech contestants and the Table Topic.

The contestants have made our day with their fabulous speeches, giving their personal best, though not every story was a Disney’s story.  While quitting is sometimes necessary, I hope all of you won’t quit public speaking, won’t quit contesting.

We’d try even if we have not won.

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

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.

 

taichi

Natto = Durians? Hmm…

 

anthonius

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

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

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Chief Judge Yen clearly enjoying the speeches.

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

 

 

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.

Musings

Musings

My project speech research was going nowhere – despite almost a month of racking my brain and googling for ideas.

The next best thing I thought I should do is to tackle the Table Topics and so I did. While it wasn’t the first time I did an impromptu speech, I decided I should read up on how I should structure this think-and-speak-on-your-feet speech. I won’t improve if I keep committing the same mistakes and I feel my speeches aren’t structured.

According to the tips available online, one can use PREP format: Point, Reason, Example and Point. Alternatively, it’s the 1H and 5Ws structure.

I understood.

When the Table Topics segment began, I wrote the PREP structure on the back of the programme sheet.

Alas! When I was at the lectern, I just blurted out whatever came to my mind, throwing PREP to the wind.

Today’s topics are toasting to the subject one drew on.  My subject was Jun and I should have first introduced him for the benefit of the guests who were late and didn’t hear the opening address by Jun.

I commended him on being a great leader, using some of the contents of his opening address – better communicator, leader and collaborator.

I related the incident when I was left out in the group chat, resulting in me turning up when there was no meeting.  Jun apologised to me at the following meeting.

Before attending today’s meeting, I decided I would speak during the Table Topics segment. Though I somewhat wavered when the segment began, I was glad I didn’t back out.

Here I was, out of my own volition – as was every Toastmaster – forgoing our Saturday afternoon where we could be at the beach – putting in effort to hone public speaking skill, I’d better seize every opportunity.

Jun cited the example of Taichi, who wanted so much to improve his skill that he has the honour of being the Table Topics King.  And he speaks clearly with confidence nowadays. Not forgetting that he has been consistently delivering his prepared speeches, completing ten of them in a year. I shall look up to him and strive to be the Table Topics Queen, at least.

During the 1 minute 48 second impromptu speech, I had several pause -fillers (three Ahs, one Um, two Rights and one OK) and I think this is unacceptable given that it was a short speech. But I don’t know how I can remove these fillers.

This is where I hope Toastmaster, meetings would help shed some light. As I have written, we will not improve despite numerous practices because we don’t know how to do it. So, one must complement one’s attendance at the meetings with reading and watching YouTube on the techniques one can learn and employ.

Besides remembering to use a structure for my Table Topic speech, I must remind myself to greet the attendees. I didn’t realise I had forgotten to do it until visiting Toastmaster, Gideon, spoke as a General Evaluator though he didn’t mention my oversight.

We had a couple from South Korea among the guests and the man who introduced himself as BK started the Table Topics speeches rolling by being the first to volunteer a speech. His passion and courage to speak in front of strangers were admirable. Perhaps when I am overseas, I would visit a local club to see how things are done.

Gideon didn’t beat about the bush when it came to general evaluation and there was a lot of room for improvement, going by his evaluation, which Jun said we must have become blindsided over time.

The areas for improvement:

* start on time; we can have a 10-minute buffer but having 2pm-2.10pm for Registration & Fellowship

* tidy up the room

* use black/blue ink instead of red because words written in the latter aren’t visible to the people seated at the back

* proper attire – no singlets or slippers

* when Toastmasters or guests are speaking, others shouldn’t move around so that they will not distract the speakers

On the point of starting the meeting on time, when we were having exco meeting, Jun shared that he once asked why Taichi always turns up at 1pm, a whole hour before the meeting and Taichi’s reply was “I’m Japanese”. Kudos to the Japanese for respecting other people’s time and Taichi for exemplifying this Japanese strength, just like the public transport precise schedule, and not do as the Romans or for that matter Singaporeans do. I don’t like to be late either because I would get flustered and stressed out.

There were only Jamie and Tricia delivering prepared speeches. Tricia shared the defect her son has and talked about cleft lip for her project seven. I have been resisting talking about my own experience as I feel naked if people know too much about me. In fact, I had wanted to be low key about my occupation initially.

Jun when evaluating Tricia’s speech, reminded her to use genderneutral term such as parent and not mother because there were males among us. For me, this is a point to bear in mind for future speeches.

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BK, guest Table Topics speaker, from South Korea.

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…

Speech Contests

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The club organised its speech contests today and there were four contestants in both International Speech and Table Topics Speech.

I admire the contestants for their courage in participating and talking in front of not only members but visitors who helped to serve as judges.

Taichi spoke about a book he read on Hardest Problem Ever and it’s related to pythagoras theorem. This was so Taichi, his speech topics are always scientific/mathematical.

Pradeep took the inspiring route – I have observed this as a favourite genre of Toastmasters’ speeches – and recounted how he made it as a lawyer and urged us to scale the Mt. Everest in us in his speech entitled Right to Dream the Impossible Dream.  Pradeep has not only scaled the Everest in the pursuit of his legal studies but won the championship in this contest.

Lynn talked about a mother teaching her daughter to exhibit the traits of coffee beans in the face of adversities, turning the unfavourable situation into your favour.  I was the only one who admitted to being a carrot, weakening when encountered challenges.

Mentor  Anthonious’ speech Less is More won him first runner-up.

Table Topic: What’s your greatest fear?

I was impressed by Taichi and Jamie for being able to relate the topic to public speaking. What an apt subject to talk about.  I thought Taichi spoke well and would have won. What a shame but I saw the improvement in him.  And I admire his consistency in delivering his projects.

Congratulations, every participant,  whether you have won or not.  Your effort matters.

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