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!

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.

Opening:

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.

Closing:
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.

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

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

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

There were only Suhas and Titus for the induction. But it was enough for us to feel the impact. Jean commented that she had been rejuvenated by the energies of these two young members. Taichi was transported to the time when he was inducted. It’s useful to remind ourselves from time to time why we joined Toastmasters.

Strangely, I don’t recall a single thing about my induction. If I ever had one. As you have seen, I documented the highlights of Toastmasters chapter meetings. However, I had not blogged about the time I was inducted. I might have been left out at a time when several of us joined together.

Celebratory mood set the tone of the meeting today after we gave Jun a mini birthday celebration. He had not intended to attend. After he said he would give it a miss, I told him we had wanted to celebrate his birthday. He decided to come in the end.

Why did I remember Jun’s birthday? Last year, there was a birthday wish for Jun in our WhatsApp chat group. Then I knew that Jun wasn’t born in June, but January.

He turns 38 tomorrow.

Little did we know that there was another birthday member among us. It’s Tricia. During the break, she let on that hers is on 17th January. Happy belated birthday, Tricia.

Besides Jun’s birthday celebration, the induction ceremony was conducted by Lynn. She did a good job by prefacing the induction with a meaningful tale. It’s about three men working on the same task but each had a different vision of what each was doing. We are all Toastmasters but how we make out of our journey depends on us.

Titus delivered his Ice Breaker project. This Taurus has a wealth of talent – he sketches, he bakes and he knows IT. A very humble young man who stands up to greet everyone walking into the room. Very impressive. As a fellow Taurus, I could see a shade of myself in him – reserved and uptight.

Suhas did his Ice Breaker as well and he was very candid about his shortcomings, including smiling even when he was scolded. But he said it depends on how you see the attribute as it could be a shortcoming to one but a strength to others.

Tricia had put off her prepared speech for the longest time. But she decided that no more procrastination and went ahead despite the lack of preparation. She told me that she wouldn’t have done the project today if not for me and also because her evaluator was Distinguished Toastmaster Pradeep.

That’s not the first time a member said she did something if not for me. Jean had told me that she would have resigned from Vice-President Education if not for me as my passion had moved her.

That reminds me of the news maker I interviewed recently and the “Walking Capital” he brought up during the interview. Walking Capital is the freedom to leave a job and not be restrained by finances or feel beholden to anyone.

Oops, I digressed.

It wasn’t Edwin’s first time as Table Topics master.  But he put some thoughts into it by scaling his topics in ascending order of difficulty. It worked in encouraging active participation.

Joyce is the most effective language evaluator any Toastmaster club could probably have. She highlighted some of our mistakes in pronunciation:

  1. “object”, “contest”, “project” have the stress in the beginning when these words are used as nouns.
  2. “opportunity” has its stress in the third syllabus.

Taichi was sharp. He pointed out that Pradeep managed to end his evaluation two seconds before the time limit. This manifested Pradeep’s skill.

And we shall use the title “Toastmaster” in addressing one another out of respect.

All in all, we had a decent meeting.

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Titus and Suhas are now officially members of our club. Welcome aboard.

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Birthday Boy

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New Blood

Here’s my opening speech to tie in with the induction.

Good afternoon.

We’re conducting the induction for Suhas and Titus today.

Most of us joined Toastmasters for similar reasons. Let’s hear from Suhas and Titus their reasons. This is so that they would be clear why they are here, and refresh our memories as well as to why we are here.

Philosopher Lao Tzu had this famous saying “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.

Suhas and Titus, congratulations on embarking on this journey, and welcome on board.

We’re delighted to be your partners in your Toastmasters learning journey, and you as ours as well.

At Toastmasters, we learn by doing, giving speeches and fulfilling leadership roles. We learn through peer evaluation.  We learn under the mentorship of experienced members who encourage, guide and support us.

While we offer support and companionship in your journey, ultimately you’re the one to decide how this journey would turn out.

Public speaking isn’t limited to twice a month of toastmasters chapter meetings or confined to this room.

Therefore, I would encourage you to read books on crafting speeches and public speaking, watch YouTube, and attend workshops and contests to hone your skill and enrich your experience.

As in all endeavours, the important ingredients are hard work and right attitude.

Now I’d like to touch on the values of Toastmasters.

Pradeep, since you mentioned it at one of the meetings, they’ve been etched on my mind.

The values of Toastmasters are aptly encapsulated in the acronym RISE – Respect, Integrity, Service and Excellence.

Of these, I’d like to highlight Service. What’s service?

How do you think our meetings come about?

We are all busy but members take turns to take up appointments so that meetings are run successfully to enable us to practise public speaking.

Last evening, Steven said he had been busy at work and hadn’t drafted the script for his role as Toastmaster of the Day. But he would do it after work. Like him, executive committee members and appointment holders put in the time and effort for the meetings.

Every one of us, as a stakeholder in this journey, has a part to play.

So, I hope you would jump at the opportunity to serve at the next meeting and every meeting. Volunteer yourselves.

Thank you.

 

Quantitative Easing

It took me a few weeks to nail down the subject for project 7 “Research Your Topic”. I had wanted to present on slogans but couldn’t get statistics. I had toyed with the subject on customer loyalty before settled on Quantitative Easing.

As a result of not deciding on my subject fast enough, I was still amending my script the night before, despite the fact that my last project was two months ago.

I went through a lot of research but only a fraction of what I found was used.

Lynn evaluated my speech and I agree with her that the closing could be improved with a call to action such as advising audience not to take on excessive financial risk or suggesting what to do when savings interest rates are ultra-low.

Here is my script for Project 7: Quantitative Easing.

In November 2008, the central bank of US, the Federal Reserve, started a programme analogous to printing money known as quantitative easing to stimulate the economy during the Great Recession . It created money electronically at the stroke [BOE’s image] of a computer key, increasing the credit in its own bank account, and bought government bonds and other securities from commercial banks with thenew money. As a result, the increase in money supply, interest rates dropped, while the banks that received the funds were supposed to make loans to households and businesses, encouraging them to spend and invest.

In the years that followed, the Federal Reserve created out of thin air, not millions, not billions, but trillions and voila, the central bank added a string of zeros to its account.

Prabhakar, have you got any idea how many zeros are there in a trillion? To give you some perspective, there are 3 zeros in a thousand, 6 zeros in a million. The number of zeros in a trillion is [show fingers] zero, zero, zero…12 zeros.

【PAUSE】

Some of you might think that’s US’ business. What has that gotta do with us, miles away from the world’s number one economy.

But it’s not that simple, in fact it has far reaching implications for you and me.

Today, I’m going to talk about 3 aspects the quantitative easing has affected us, they are:

1) interest rates
2) real estate
3) exchange rates

★Interest rates★
By flooding the banks with money, the Federal Reserve drove the interest rates down.

Here, in Singapore, the interest rates are closely correlated to the US rate, and they are at historic low, having languished at almost zero levels for years.

How many of you have savings accounts with POSB? Did you know the current interest rates?

Let me tell you, for the first $350,000, the interest rate is 0.05% per annum. For example, a $1000 deposit earns you a paltry $0.50 a year in interest. What could $0.50 a year buy you?

Hmm, five visits to the …public toilet, that charges you 10 cents per visit.

As you have heard, low interest rates as a result of quantitative easing punish savers like you and me.

★Real estate★
Given such low rates for savings, some of us would look to investment with more attractive yields. Some might take advantage of the equally low mortgage rates to buy properties as well.

Indeed, that’s what happened after quantitative easing began.

According to an article published this July in the newspaper Today, private home prices in Singapore surged more than 60 per cent after the great recession in 2009 to peak in the third quarter of 2013.
Monetary Authority of Singapore in a statement in 2014 said “it is clear that unusually low global interest rates have stimulated credit growth and an increase in property prices in recent years.

“That is why the government and MAS have taken decisive steps to cool property demand and prevent excessive leverage.”

A Straits Times article published two weeks ago related a woman’s experience in being caught in the easy credit trap.

The easy credit made available by the ultra-low interest rates had turned this woman into a big risk-taker; she invested in eight properties six years ago. Each time a property she owned went up in value, she would get an extra credit line on it to make a down payment on another.

When high-yield bonds became the craze, she hopped onto that bandwagon as well, using credit lines from her properties to subscribe to the bonds. It was leverage upon leverage.

Her house of cards started to collapse came the cooling measures.

Cheap and easy financing can turn otherwise sensible people into credit junkies in their quest for yield, to take extreme risks.

Indeed, the International Monetary Fund has warned of the danger of excessive financial risk taking as a result of quantitative easing.

★Exchange rates★
An effect of quantitative easing was a sell-off in the US dollar, as the freshly minted money hit the financial markets.

This with the nagging concerns over the recovery of the world’s largest economy, depressed the greenback against other major currencies.

Funds seeking higher returns than in the US moved towards Asia, including Singapore as hot money sought a safe haven as well as looked for something more lucrative, thereby drove up the Sing dollar.

The Sing dollar hit an all-time high against the US dollar at 1USD to S$1.2, as seen in this table.

What does this mean for us?

A strong Singdollar against US dollar makes holidays in the US more affordable and online purchases denominated in the greenback cheaper.

Closing
Quantitative easing is not just a matter that concerns the United States. Although we live in the other hemisphere, there are significant implications for us. Whether it’s interest rates, real estate or exchange rates, quantitative easing has impacted us – either positively or adversely.

Thank you.

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.

yen

Chief Judge Yen clearly enjoying the speeches.

team

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.