Friday, November 13, 2015

Meeting#266: Mid-Autumn Festival and Hari Raya Haji (Written by Hamza Isaac, Edited by Mak Kum Shi)

Two phenomena had collaboratively made this mid-autumn season unique on every sense. One was the notorious and persisting haze that dominated the sky during the past weeks. The other was the rare occurring of a Total Lunar Eclipse, widely referred to as Blood Moon, which took place on 27th Sep and on 28th Sep the same day of our club’s 265 meeting.

But if I to add another phenomenon to the equation, a one which is less likely to abuse our lungs or breed superstitions, it would be the intense enthusiasm that our club members and guests expressed as they took upon their roles and responsibilities throughout the evening.

The meeting was smoothly called to order on 7pm by SAA, TM Ng Chu Yee. Afterwards, our club’s president, TM Carmen Chong, took over the podium and began delivering the opening speech. Carmen warmly welcomed the guests and deeply thanked everyone for hassling through traffic and haze to attend our humble club. As part of the club’s tradition, Carmen continued with a request from the guests to abandon their comfort zones for a minute and introduce themselves to everyone.

After the guests enlightened us with their names and brief bio, Carmen surrendered the podium to our Toastmaster of the Evening, TM Phang Chen De, who started briefing the guests (and refreshing the memories of members) about the Toastmaster’s history and the reason behind the existence of such organization, which is to improve members’ communication and leadership skills.

Following the briefing routine, the most interesting (and nerve-breaking) part of the evening has began, Table Topic sessions! Table Topic Master Quah Shee Jiun, took to the stage and thoroughly explained how table topics work, in which three or four (sometimes five) members or guests are invited to stage and asked random questions, of which they are to speak about for two minutes.

The first table topic volunteer was Kenith Wong, a member of Bangsar Toastmasters Club. Kenith was asked, “If you are the CEO of your favorite moon cake company, how will you market it?” The question didn’t seem too hard for Kenith who managed to relate it to the nature of his business which requires extensive marketing to grow and prosper.

TM Chee Loon, our club’s ex-president, was the next volunteer for the 2nd Table Topic session. “The moon is shining in the dark, who is the light in your life?” was the question presented to Chee Loon. After digesting the question for few seconds, Chee Loon spoke briefly about the “light in his life” which happened to be his ex-girlfriend who left a great influence in him. He mention how she helped in reshaping his attitude towards life and how he learn many lessons from her including proper financial management.

The third, and last, Table Topic speaker was Ahmed, the president of Bangsar Toastmasters Club, who was asked the bizarre question, “What do you think will happen if one day doesn’t have a moon?” By relating to the moon eclipse, Ahmed stressed out on how much dependent we are on several things including the moon itself. He argued that no matter what, we shouldn’t be relying on anything, whether it’s a moon, sun, star or even a loved one, because at some point in our life, they might not be there for us.

TME Phang Chen De took over the stage following the Table Topic session to announce the next phase of the meeting, which was the Project Speech sessions that was reserved for the club members. The project speakers of the evening were Yi Zhe (CC#1), William Cheong (CC#2), Syimah (CC#2) and Chris Chooi (CC#3).

The first speaker, Yi Zhe, began his toastmaster journey by bravely stepping up to the stage and delivering his speech “I, Me and Myself”. Yi Zhe divided his speech into two parts. In the first part, he talked about his hometown Taiping and mentioned the beautiful attractions it harnesses including the Lake Garden, Taiping Zoo and Night Safari. In the second part, he spoke about his role as an organiser for an event, and about the opportunities as well as difficulties he faced as he carried out his responsibilities.

William Cheong, one of the most active members in the club, was the next project speaker delivering his CC#2 with an intriguing title of “The Lost Art of Keyboard”. With a smiley face, William started by jokingly remarking the adjacency of the letters ‘U’ and ‘I’ on the keyboard (a good material for a pickup line), although the two letters are far from each other alphabetically.

He continued the speech by asking audience whether they’ve noticed the slight bumps found on the letters “F” and “J” on the physical keyboard. He explained the purpose behind such feature which is to aid in touch typing (the lost art). William stressed out on the importance of learning to use all fingers in typing, a habit that will significantly increases the typing speed and reduces the writing time. He concluded the speech by suggesting ways of improving typing via online software and tools.

The next project speaker was Syimah who delivered her CC#3 “Simple Ways to Happy Life”. As the title suggested, Syimah shared with us ways to achieve happiness without compromising the happiness of others. She mentioned an ‘old school’ habit of her which is writing down important dates, including the birthday of her mother. This way, she argued, has helped to not miss on important moments in her life to rejoice and celebrate with loved ones. She concluded her speech with a hard to forget combination of words, “Smile and never forget to laugh”.

Chris Chooi, was the following speaker who claimed the stage with his CC#3, “Prefect without a Title” His speech revolved around his son whom he found sad because he wasn’t picked by the school to be a prefect for his class.

Chris explained how he lifted his son’s spirit not by telling him that he doesn’t need such title or that he can try his luck the next year, but by telling him that he can become whatever he wants the moment he decide it. That he can be a prefect by acting like one in taking responsibilities, and treating his younger sister and family as if they were his classmates.

Following Chris’s inspiring story was a 7-minute humorous speech by our Carmen who was preparing for the upcoming regional Humorous Speech Contest on 4th October. Just as in the previous club held contest, Carmen didn’t fail to stun the audience with her erratic yet outstanding performance. However, since the speech was just a practice, she was overwhelmed with honest feedback from the club members in the following 12-minute evaluation session.
The refreshment break came after Carmen’s speech, during which guest and club members had the chance to interact and get to know each other.

Following the break, the meeting was again called to order at 8:34 by Ng Chu Yee. After the club members and guest returned to their seats, the General Evaluator, TM Jack Ying took control of the podium and begin explaining the goal of the speech evaluations.

The first evaluation session was the Table Topic Evaluation by TM Chee Siong. Project speech evaluations came next. The first speech evaluator was TM Ang Chee Yong who delivered his evaluation for Ye Zhe. Ang Chee Yong praised how Ye Zhe managed to stick to the time slot given. He also complimented the speaker’s natural voice tone.

Among the points of improvement Ang Chee Yong suggested was for speaker to be comfortable with the stage before delivering the speech, this way he will remain confident throughout the speech. The most important point Ang Chee Yong stressed on was to break the speech into points rather than memorizing and reciting everything.

Ahmed’s evaluation for William came next. Among the good points mentioned by Ahmed were the interesting choice of topic, as well as the use of notes written on his hand. The points of improvement given included not to overwhelm the audience with too much information about the topic, especially when some of them knew little about it. Ahmed also advised William not to stand too close to the audience at the front, as his position, based on the seating arrangement of the club members, will isolate some of the audience behind him.

The last speech evaluator was Chee Loon who shared his thought about Syimah’s speech “Simple Ways to Happy Life”. Chee Loon complimented her honesty and optimism with which she initiated the speech by throwing the question “Are you happy?” He continued by noting how personalised her speech turned to be as she started mentioning things she liked the most, including cats. Chee Loon summarised his evaluation by advising her to structure her speech better and provide clearer examples for each of the speech objectives.

The last speech evaluator was Woon Wong Pen, who delivered the evaluation for Chris’s speech. Woon Pen noted the speaker’s good personality and posture. He also complimented the way Chris explained how he convinced his son without eating up half or more of the speech time slot. Higher voice tone upon concluding was among points of improvements given. Woon Pen’s summed up his evaluation by complimenting Chris’s obstinacy of using the word ‘Sorry’, a pitfall many speakers keep plunging in.

After a constructive evaluation by Woon Pen, it was time for the Technical Report team to share their reports. The Grammarian Report was delivered by Mak Kum Shi, followed by the Timekeeper’s report given by Ng Chu Yin. The General Evaluator Report was presented by Jack Ying, came next then the Ah-Counter Report by Ivan Guan.

TME, Phang Chen De, took over the stage following the Technical Report, to thank the speakers, role-players and everyone else for making the meeting enjoyable. Chen De proceeded by announcing the winners for the Table Topics, Project Speeches as well as Speech Evaluations. However, before the award was distributed to the speaker’s, a Certificate of Appreciation was given to Jack Ying for his constructive feedback for the overall club performance.

Ahmed claimed the Best Table Topic Award with his intriguing answer for the peculiar question regarding the moon’s disappearance.

The inspiring story with his son taught us to be what we want NOW, and not wait for it to happen. It also helped Chris win for the award for Best Project Speaker.
The winner for the best Project Speech Evaluator Award was the evaluator for Chris, Wong Woon Pen, with his constructive feedback that gave us ‘food for thought’ of how to impress the audience with our personality.

Before the meeting came to and, Carmen took over the stage and invited the guests to share their thoughts and suggestions regarding the club, a request that bred valuable feedbacks from the new-comers.

It was 10 o’clock when the meeting was called to an end. 3 table topic evaluators, 4 project speakers and 4 speech evaluators have done an incredible job to entertain the audience with lessons and personal accounts of their life. Another yet remarkable aspect of the meeting was the reoccurring use of Word of The Day “rekindle”, which not only adopted by speaker but also used by guest as they introduced themselves and share their feedback.

I hope that the enthusiasm and the energy displayed be rekindled across the upcoming meetings!

Meeting#265: Merdeka (Written by Quah SJ, Edited by Mak Kum Shi)

Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!

Hari Merdeka (Independence Day), celebrated on the 31st of August, is a national holiday for Malaysia, which commemorates the independence of the Federation of Malaya from British colonial rule in 1957. In conjunction with this celebration, the Mid Valley Toastmasters Club (MVTC) held its 4th meeting for the 2015/2016 term (24th August 2015), with ‘Merdeka’ as the meeting’s theme.
40 persons had attended this meeting, out of which 15 were guests. Our guests consisted of Toastmasters’ members from Germany, Russia, and other clubs, as well as many new visitors who are professional in various fields. Mr Wong Woon Pen (ACB, CL), our youngest member in MVTC, volunteered to be General Evaluator of the meeting.
Before the official start of the meeting at 7.00pm, our honoured guests were welcomed and served with refreshments by the club’s committee members. Like a gracious host at a wedding dinner, MVTC Sergeant-At-Arms (SAA) Victor had invited our guests to the function before the start of the meeting.

The meeting began with a welcoming speech from MVTC president Carmen Chong (CC, CL). The speech was followed by the ‘Getting to Know You’ session. Guests were invited to introduce themselves and express their reasons of why they were proud to be Malaysian. They are proud because of the nice Malaysian food, friendly Malaysian people, proficiency in speaking different languages, more public holidays as a multi-cultural nation, and peaceful country for living with minimal natural disaster.

Subsequently, Toastmaster of the Evening (TME) Kow Chee Khon shared a brief history of Toastmasters International with the audience. Dressed in white formal shirt with lattice design, Kow delivered his speech with his unique deep base voice.

Table-topic master of the day Ivan Guan presented a few table topics to the audience. He encouraged members of the audience to participate in the table topic session. Four gentlemen and one lady, namely Suren, Ang Chee Yong, Chee Siong, Adrain, and Susan, came forward and confidently presented their impromptu speeches. The session concluded within 10 minutes.

The project speech session began after the conclusion of the table topic session. A total of five project speeches were presented.

The first was ‘The Ice Breaker’ speech that was presented by Lawrence Khoo, with the title ‘Peaks & Valleys’. He shared his personal life experiences, allowing MVTC members to get to know him.
As per MVTC’s culture for first-time speakers, to commemorate his presentation of his maiden speech, the audience gave him a standing ovation to encourage him on his public-speaking journey.
Daniel Lim, delivered his third competent communicator speech with the title of ‘Golden Buddha’. He shared with us the story of the Golden Buddha and encouraged audience to take action to achieve what they pursued.

Our Senior Member Ang Chee Yong (ACS, ALB) delivered his first Advanced Communicator Gold speech with the title of ‘Why now?’ He shared with us that people often regret not doing things they wanted to earlier and urged us start now, especially our retirement plan!

This was followed by Shim Chee Loon, our charming former president of MVTC, who delivered his first Advance Communicator Bronze speech, with the title ‘Koogle Open House’.

Lastly, Carmen Chong delivered her Advanced Leader Bronze (ALB) special project speech with title ‘Meeting Roles & Responsibilities’. She shared with us the meeting role-players work as a team to drive a successful toastmaster meeting. She quoted from American Industrialist Henry Ford, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

After the prepared speeches session had concluded, a recess of ten minutes was held. Sponsored by IGB Group, local food and drinks that were prepared by Cititel Hotel were served to members and guests at the function room lounge. Guests and members conversed with each other during the recess.

The speech evaluation session was held after the recess. This session has significance to members and guests, as audience members can learn from effective evaluation presentations, while evaluators are able to sharpen their listening and impromptu speaking skills. Speakers benefit from effective evaluations from evaluators who provide feedback and offer suggestions for improvement. 

The evaluators for the various speakers were as follows: Ahmaned Fawzy evaluated the table topic speakers, Siew Lai Yee evaluated Lawrence Khoo, Christy Chang evaluated Daniel Lim, Sim Bock San (from IEM TMC) evaluated Ang Chee Yong, and Jack Ying (from Help Uni TMC) evaluated Shim Chee Loon.

Immediately after the evaluation session, our role players of the day had presented their technical reports. For this meeting, Mr Wong Woon Pen volunteered to be our general evaluator. He is our ‘youngest and talented leader’ in MVTC. During the GE session, he further elaborated the key point on restrictions (more is less, less is more) for deliver a good presentation.

Also, he shared that he is enjoy joining MVTC, a young dynamic and energetic club. Even the humorous speech contest organised only allowed ten speaker participants easier fill up within 24 hours, this show how proactive the club members are, which keep him feel younger.

Other role players who presented their reports included William Cheong (grammarian), Hamza (time-keeper), Wong Woon Pen (general evaluator), and Phang Chen De (ah-counter).

Finally, the meeting came to a very exciting climax. The Toastmaster of the Evening led the awards announcement session. The best table topic speaker and project speech presenter of the evening were Chong Chee Siong and Sim Chee Loon respectively. This was followed by the best evaluator of
the evening Sim Bock San. The winners and the general evaluator were presented certificates of achievements as recognition from Mid Valley Toastmasters Club.

As the meeting was concluding, members received positive feedback from guests about the club meeting. Some guests had shown their interest in public speaking and were keen to join our club.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Announcement: No Meeting on 14 Sept 2015

Special Announcement from Mid Valley Toastmasters Club:

Once again, there will be no meeting tonight (14 September 2015, Mon).

It will resume back on 28 September 2015 (Mon) - 2nd meeting of the month.
Members and guests, please take note on the changes.

Thank you & have a nice day!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Meeting #264: United We Stand (Written by Lawrence Khoo, Edited by Mak Kum Shi)

If there is one word to describe the people behind Mid Valley Toastmasters Club, it has to be the word ‘united’. Great empires persist over generations on the backbone of unity and there is no coincidence that this simple understanding has brought Mid Valley Toastmasters Club well into its 264th meeting.

It is always an inspiration to witness a group of like-minded individuals being affiliated with one another, doing the things they love, and finding a common purpose. If being ‘united’ is the theme, then ‘affiliated’ is a befitting word of the day.
The meeting began on time (more or less), thanks to our Sergeant-at-Arms Garrick Lim, who quickly made way for our lovely President Chong Carmen to inject some early doses of adrenaline to get the crowd going.

Carmen had set the tone for a good evening with the story of her 5-year old nephew from whom she drew valuable leadership lessons. She went on to acknowledge the unwavering commitment and contribution from the EXCO team and concluded by calling each and every one to always lead by example. That’s the first step towards a united team!

Toastmaster of the evening (TME) Ryan Ting did well in keeping everyone engaged throughout the meeting with his wit and composure. After the usual introductory rounds, the table topics session took centre stage with Sky Siew at the helm presenting five different speech titles to eager participants who volunteered themselves for the challenge.

Impromptu speeches like these are no easy feat and having a go at it was already an achievement. Chris was the first in line and he spoke about how sports can unite a country.

Chee Yong continued the momentum in his passionate speech on how a ‘yes man’ culture can only bring us as far as survival is concerned. What’s more important is being true to ourselves even if it means saying ‘no’. But I guess it will take a lot of courage and maturity to take a contrarian view in a society that has difficulty embracing differences.

We also gave one of our guest, Yi Zhe, who went through a baptism of fire and kudos to him for keeping his nerves to tell us about his views on how a nation’s leader must be supported by the citizens in order to move forward. Meanwhile, Ian was in his element in describing how integrity plays an important part in leadership through his real life example of dealing with ‘dictator’ partners. 

A lesson learnt the hard way is a lesson learnt nonetheless. Finally, Sivades gave us a simple and practical equation to follow; trust equals respect.

If Table Topics is the appetizer, Project Speeches are the main course. We were served with 4 delicious dishes with 3 of them coming from our newly minted chefs (Toastmasters’ maiden speeches).

Quah began his Toastmasters journey with his compelling narrative of the three choices he made that changed his life.

1) His foray into scouts that taught him discipline and teamwork.

2) The decisive switch to pursue his passion in finance.

3) His courageous moment in taking on a frontline role in the line of work. We all have choices in life and the choices we make today will define our tomorrow. Be brave in making those choices!

Phang also had a first taste of his Toastmasters journey by sharing his life journey. What stuck to our hearts were how his brothers and sisters actually taught him what truly sharing and caring is all about. He also inspired us with his diligence in pursing his passion in the banking industry. Life is never an easy journey and only perseverance will carry us till the end.

Victor gave a memorable first speech with a few rounds of push-ups and that little trick did well to catch everyone’s attention. He went on to describe his journey in scouts and how it left a deep imprint on him both physically and mentally. Harsh experiences during his early days turned out to be a boon as it awakens and emboldens his views towards life. After all, diamonds are forged under extreme conditions.

The last of the main dish is reserved for none other than our always young-at-heart Wong Woon Pen. This was his first advanced level speech and hats off to him for delivering another masterpiece. He demonstrated how management can communicate austerity measures to employees effectively by practising empathy and managing their expectations.

There was also a Q&A session and I have to say Mak Kum Shi gave him a hard time by being a difficult employee. Well, on the brighter side that’s good practice to deal with real life situations later on!  

We had Chee Yong’s wife to thank for bringing an ultra-delicious durian cake. The cake was to celebrate four birthdays for four members: Chee Siong, Lai Yee, Chee Loon, and Carmen.

After the scrumptious three-course meal, it’s time for evaluation and feedback. Mak delivered his evaluation of the Table Topics participants and was thorough in his assessment. Chee Yong was eventually elected the Winner for the Table Topics challenge.

Daniel gave an interesting evaluation on Quah by using the analogy of Assets and Liabilities. Quah’s assets would be his moderation and authenticity with time management being his only liability.
Yeap’s liked Phang’s confidence, and suggested that Phang can improve by having better speech organisation in terms of having a clear opening and body, and add more flavour by speaking about his family and education.

As for Victor, Chris liked the calmness of Victor’s movement and expression, the clarity of his voice and the enthusiastic delivery of his speech.

Ian had the honour of being Wong’s evaluator and he was spot on in highlighting that Mr. Wong has a unique brand of humour and emotion. The speech was well delivered and perhaps a little more empathy would make it even better. It was apt that Wong was elected as the Winner of the Project Speech.

Jonathan Mah delivered his General Evaluator report and it was refreshing to know that the food was good, the people was better and the venue was top notch. He was also pleased with the professionalism in how the meeting was conducted. Some points for improvement include advising evaluators for CC#1 speakers to focus more on the objective of the speech.

Last but not least, we’d also announced the winners for the latest round of the Blog contest. Chee Yong and Chee Siong were second and first runners-up respectively while the champion went to Yeap.

Heartfelt congratulations to all winners!

It was definitely a good evening and hopefully we all continue to stay united for years to come.