Toastmaster Manish delivered his personal best speech to date last Saturday for his project 10.  He was generous to share his script with me, and here it is (unedited):

How many of you felt an anxiety when you were told to go on a stage and speak…

You are not the only one, I am an old member of this club.

Some of you will relate to this boy – Bright, knows his stuff, full of ideas but never raises the hand to volunteer to answer, in fact it’s the other way round.

I can really relate to this during my school days! A bit nervous on a big stage but great in an informal set-up.

I am not very close to you and I don’t know your motivations but going by the project, I am supposed to inspire you. Have to think about one common theme that binds all of us . What is that? Yes, all of us are here to get better in public speaking.

I am going to share with you some stories about me and hopefully you will relate to them.

1st story – setting is early year 2004, Citibank regional head office in London. After successful implementation of strategically very important project, I was chosen amongst the top officers to undergo senior level project management training in London. Towards the end, I was supposed to come forward and debrief the seniors and colleagues about my learning and accomplishment.

I stumbled, fumbled, mumbled….and just about managed to complete it (pause) to the dismay of people watching me. This happened when I was well into 8-9 years of my already successful career. I was posted to Dubai then. When I returned, my boss who was a Distinguished Toastmaster told me that I have the talent and potential, however my ability or inability to communicate on a big stage can be a blocker. He suggested that I join Toastmasters. I went, signed as a guest couple of times, fumbled in one the table topics and then never signed up. What you see, so many guests and new members here…they don’t come back. I did the same, this was an easy route – ESCAPE!

2nd Story –Singapore incident. Fast forward to June 2014, I was given a charge to head a big portfolio across multiple geographies – UK, India and Singapore. It so happened that one of the directors quit in Singapore and I was told to take over from him. He was heading a team of 30 people and he introduced me to the team and then looked at me to say a few words. I started confidently but suddenly felt a rush of blood and anxiety as I looked at so many eyes staring at me. I felt like a deer caught in the headlights – paralyzed with fear…and guess what – I blanked out. My colleague rushed and got a glass of water for me. That was one of the most embarrassing moments for me. I regained my composure and spoke coherently and confidently for 10 minutes about number of things. But I thought the damage was done. It took me some time to recover from the trauma and then I thought about my boss’s advice 10 years back – Toastmasters. I realized no matter how much I dislike public speaking, there is no escape from it. I will have to get comfortable with the associated discomfort and conquer the fear. So, I joined toastmasters in Nov 2014.

3rd Story – Toastmaster project 3.
I gave an ice breaker speech in Jan 2015, followed it up with project 2 in Feb. I made a good start and then in Mar 2015, during my project 3, half way down I blanked out. It was the exactly the same feeling…I did regain my composure and completed the speech after 15 minutes. I went back home scarred, wounded and disappointed and wondering why this experience keeps coming back and haunts me. Let me tell you by this time I could pull off most of the presentations with relative ease in the office environment which was a positive development.
Fast forward to 25-Apr this year, which was very recent. I met my new boss in India, he is British and group CIO for an important technology vertical. He called me over for a dinner, we had couple of drinks and we got along well. He suddenly looked at me and said, we have a town hall tomorrow and we have to address the entire offshore team, you are joining me on the stage and we will jointly address the crowd.

I could immediately see that my happy state of mind as a result of 2 pints was overtaken by the performance anxiety. I had never addressed a crowd of close to 120 people standing on a stage. He could sense my unease and he asked me if I was up for it. One side of me said, said no and wriggle out of the situation…I also knew that I will lose both – great opportunity and my boss’s confidence by saying no. I said yes…I will do it. I was quite nervous and got up at 5:00 in the morning and could not sleep after that.

However, as I came close to addressing the crowd, I was surprisingly calm. I had prepared in my mind what I had to say and told to myself, I have finished 9 projects in TM, I know how to do it. Just apply those principles. I spoke with full confidence, no nervousness and it was a huge moment for me, I felt so light. It was like exorcising the demons that have been badgering me for many years.

I thought today is the right occasion to share these stories and my test would be, if I am able to share these stories in coherent and confident manner, it should be an inspiration to some of you. From the stories main messages are – start early, persist and practise. I would like to close the session with this inspirational slide – Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.



Toastmaster Manish delivered a perfect 10 Project 10 to a rapt audience.


A heartwarming session

Manish’s “Exorcising the Demons” was one of the most inspiring speeches and his personal best to date, I think.  He recounted how he sucked at public speaking at first, especially with so many eyes on him when he made a public speech over a decade ago.  He, at the suggestion of his then-superior, joined Toastmasters in 2004.  But he did not persist and dropped out half-way.

He knew he had to do it when he rejoined in 2014.  He told us he blanked out when he was doing his project 3. However, that didn’t deter him.  By April this year, when he was told by his boss over drinks that they would go on stage the following day to address an audience, though he was still frightful, it was a different Manish this time.

Having done a few projects by then, he was no longer the Manish he was a decade ago nor the Manish when he was delivering his project 3.

The words that he used for this speech were so vivid that I could feel what he was going through – the nervousness that gripped him when 30 pairs of eyes were on him.  He described the state as a deer in the headlights.


Manish delivered his P10 speech and it won him the Best Speaker title.

Manish had a message for us – it’s not late to join Toastmasters. A quote that Manish used left me a deeper impression. It was Neale Donald Walsch’s “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”.

Besides Manish, there was Toastmaster Edwin who completed his project 10 as well. In accordance with the tradition, there was a cake to celebrate the completion of P10.

However, there was another reason for celebration – it’s Taichi’s birthday on the 17th.  We celebrated his birthday in advance.  It was heartwarming to see three grown-up men of different age groups, nationalities and races to blow out candles together.  Toastmasters brought us together.


Toastmasters brought these three men of different age groups, nationalities and races together for celebration.

I still sucked at Table Topics. I must confess I haven’t put much effort into this impromptu speaking segment. The most I have done is to tackle a topic every meeting. It isn’t enough as I would only be blabbering nonsense without a structure. I would work on it if I continue with Toastmasters after my break.

It was my fourth attempt at Toastmaster of the Day (TMD). I volunteered to be the TMD, I brainstormed for an icebreaker and I was pretty delighted with my idea – “Bonding over bonds”, with members divided into two teams and the first member on each team would read a message and then softly pass the message to the second, and the latter would whisper to the third. This was to be done out of the earshot of others as both teams got the same messages – to be fair.

The messages were about the financial instrument, bonds. I wanted to make it fun for most of the members who might not have much knowledge of the fixed incomeproduct. What I did was to use terms with the word “bond” such as vagabond, James Bond and vanilla bond.

The other message was about the different types of bonds associated with various countries. The catch was they were not obvious. Bulldog, Panda, Merlion and Kangaroo, which do you think was non-existent?

Lastly, there were dim sum bond, kimchi bond, sushi bond and Tom Yum bond, the last was a figment of my imagination. Hey, but didn’t it sound real as all these bore the names of signature dishes of the places where the bonds were sold – Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan respectively. I had wanted to use Laksa bond but this dish was available in Malaysia and Singapore whereas Tom Yum is known to be a national dish of Thailand, and this would put it on par with dim sum, kimchi and sushi.

After the meeting, when I went to get the badges from Taichi for the installation ceremony (he would not be present on 24th), he said he likes Jean and me very much. I remember Edward has said this is a thankless job, and I never expect to be thanked. Despite that, knowing that your efforts have not gone unnoticed was rewarding.

I told him I won’t be seeing him, since both of us would be taking a break from Toastmasters. I told Jean later, putting in too much feelings isn’t good for me and it’s perhaps time to step away.

After all, I am a free spirit.

Jean and Lynn were very sweet, they each got me gifts, including a plush toy of my favourite character Doraemon.  Jeremy, after learning that I would be stepping down and taking a break, offered to treat me to a meal.

These gestures melt my heart.

Gifts from my Toastmasters and they touched my heart.

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.


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.


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.


Who’s the Wink Murderer? 


★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.



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 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 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 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’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.

More than Public Speaking

Once You Stop Learning, You Start Dying

Toastmasters’ meetings were not merely about public speaking.  Speakers delivered speeches with thought-provoking and inspiring messages.

Tricia reminded us to keep the Green Monster in us in check, not to be consumed by misconduct and ill feelings such as jealousy.

Erly was not looking back despite his entrepreneurship has been fraught with ups and downs like a roller coaster ride. He quit his job to strike out on his own because he was stagnating as an employee.  On this, he quoted Einstein’s saying “Once you stop learning, you start dying”. I totally agree. I  have an insatiable appetite for learning and that is the reason why I continue learning after my first degree. I have taken up Japanese, financial planning, a master’s programme and now public speaking.

As for Taichi, it was admirable of him to leave his country, Japan, and his comfort zone, to stay in a foreign land where English is commonly spoken so that he would immerse in the environment and also has no choice but to speak English.

Lynn spoke about communication in the hearing-impaired community. She wanted us to not be too consumed in the world of technological communication media and neglected the more meaningful direct communication.

Manish suggested that we let our hair down at times and be less serious but enjoy more about what we do. Indeed, Asians are too inhibitive and reserved, and I’m guilty of that as well.

Jamie introduced us to a F.I.T way to pursue good health.

These were the takeaways from yesterday’s meeting.

Therefore, attending Toastmasters meetings is killing two birds with one stone – one gets to practise and improve one’s public speaking skill, yet at the same time be introspective and acquiring knowledge.

26 September meeting

Elmaree from the USA Toastmasters joined us in our meeting on 26 September.