Robot VPE, the only solution?

27 May 2017

With nobody willing to take on the role of Vice President Education (VPE) for the first half of next term, I delivered this opening speech in exasperation:

Some of you might be wondering why there’s no programme sheet, why wasn’t it sent out as usual.

No, it’s not been taken by the super heroes, although today’s theme is super heroes.

Doing without programme sheet could be the new norm that you have to get used to.

Why? Because we don’t have a VPE for the first half of next term, that is, from July to December.

Some of you are on course, can’t spare the time; some of you who remain in Singapore on employment pass but your employment status is uncertain, some work on most Saturdays or spend half the year overseas. Others simply don’t want to assume the role.

Perhaps we should have an equivalent of the match-making app tinder to match make speakers, evaluators, and appointment holders, with functions to draw up programme sheets and update the Google sheet that tracks our progress. But until then, a human vpe is still required.

Toastmasters is a non-profit club with no full-time staff and everyone of us is working full-time.

Who isn’t busy here? Have a show of hands. No one.

All of us are stakeholders of the Toastmasters journey and we can’t do it alone. No doubt the executive committee roles take up time, someone has to do it. But if you think “let that not be me”, it would end up that we have no VPE, no Sergeant-at-Arms, no meetings.

For those who understand Chinese,  please look at the term on the whiteboard.  What does this term 舍得 mean? It means the willingness to part with. If you look at the two characters separately, 舍 means “giving up”, 得 means “gaining”. You give up one thing but you’ll gain something in return.

For those who are looking at practical returns, being in leadership position enhances your résumé.  Those who want to make sure you’d attend meetings – like what Taichi was after  – being on the executive committee pushes you to attend meetings regularly.

For me, I just kn0w I couldn’t simply take from the club, I have to give as well. In the process of giving, what did I get in return? Opportunities like this to make you hear me out, opportunities to network with other clubs’ leaders and stronger friendship from my fellow executive committee members.

Do we have a VPE next term, you decide.  Over to you,  Toastmaster of the Day.

Coincidentally, Jean took the day off and she joked that her rare absence might reinforce my message. However, it didn’t because two days after the meeting, KUTMC still doesn’t have a VPE (for July – December) and Sergeant-at-Arms.

Be yourself, have your own style, play to your strengths

Here’s my opening speech at 29th April meeting.

Let’s do a quick survey, among the members of this club, including those absent today,  whose public speaking style would you like to adopt, and what is it about the style that you like about?

Let me write down your reasons.

Most of you have a member in mind, whose style that you’d like to adopt.

A Toastmaster told me he’s not trying to be as good as Jun and the rest, he just aims to speak what he wants to say comfortably.

He’s right in one sense – he wants to be comfortable. But he’s not exactly correct, in my opinion, to use jun and others as benchmark.

Why?

I used to watch a lot of Hong Kong dramas and they were always peppered with punchy lines.  One of the lines that has stuck with me is “If you want others to be like you, unless there were two of you”. However, not even twins are totally identical, so it’s pointless for us to take on another person’s style because we’ll never be like them or  even beat him at it.

For me, it’s myself. I’m not narcissistic. In fact, I’m far from it, one of my greatest weaknesses is the lack of self confidence.

Yet I would like to be myself, find my own style, one that I play to my strengths and be comfortable with.

Therefore, I would suggest that, instead of trying to emulate that member, or adopt his/her style, think of the strengths or traits of his or her style and tweak them to suit your personality and abilities.

So instead of saying you would like to be like Pradeep or Jun, you might say, I’d like to be polished, confident, structured.

My message this afternoon is:

Be yourself. Have a style that plays to your strengths and that you’re comfortable with.

2017

7th January 2017

Opening speech as President

Good Afternoon, Toastmasters and guests. We’re into 2017, what plans have you got for the new year, and for your Toastmaster learning journey? 

A way of planning is using what you’ve achieved last year as a blueprint, and build on it in the year ahead.

On this, do you remember how many projects you did last year?

If you dont remember, you might want to refer to the spreadsheet Jean painstaking drew up, for us to track our progress.

I once read about how a toastmaster did one project every month. You decide on the subject in the first week, research the second, draft your speech in the third, and practise and deliver it in the fourth.

And how many projects do you plan to do this year? If you need a little push, let us know, Jean and I are ready to give you that nudge.

Sometimes work gets busy and we don’t have the luxury of time. If you aren’t able to deliver a prepared speech, how about taking on table topics? Better still, volunteer for appointments too. Best if you would be part of the executive committee for the term beginning in July. Let us know if you would like to serve the members and at the same time add a valuable experience to your résumé.

Furthermore, you might want to try your hands at contests to challenge yourselves. Our contest will be held on second Saturday in March, you can now start working on it.  

If you have any ideas for meetings, please let us know. We’ll see how we can incorporate them in future meetings.

We hope you have a fruitful 2017, and a happy learning journey at Kampong Ubi.