Monday, February 16, 2015

Meeting #252: No Limits (By Daniel Lim)

By Daniel Lim

It probably wouldn't come as a shock to you that a UK research found that most sick leaves are taken on Mondays. As to why Monday is a particularly moody day, well, it’s pretty obvious that we’d end up a bit down when returning to work, especially after a fun and rested weekend.

Here’s a great way to minimize the ill effects of your Monday Blues: have something to look forward to on Monday night!

For me, that means attending Mid Valley Toastmasters Club meetings!

This time around, it was our 252nd meeting, and also the first meeting for 2015! The Meeting theme was “No Limits”, which was aptly chosen, considering that the New Year had only just begun!
It was a fruitful meeting – in fact, the experience of being at the meeting gave me a great shot of motivation as I managed to glean new insight from the speeches of all the prepared project speakers. So powerful was this motivation that I started picking up my routine jog, the one I had abandoned for a while, the very next day. I’ll tell you why later in this post.
As usual, our club’s members and guests started arriving at Cititel Mid Valley Level 5 by 6.00 pm, which is a great time to just mingle around and get to know each other while enjoying some delectable fried rice and fried noodles.

Our Sergeant-At-Arms for the night, Ivy Liew, got the ball rolling by inviting all members and guests into the meeting room by 6.57 pm.

“Princey-dent” Shim Chee Loon started off the first meeting of 2015 with a bang by delivering his uproariously funny Presidential Speech. There were a total 25 attendees – 21 of our own members plus 4 guests. After a round of self-introductions by all 25 attendees, the bubbliest girl I’ve ever met stepped on stage to take up the role of Toastmaster of the Evening – she is none other than the one and only Siew Lai Yee. She started off by introducing the history and origins of Toastmasters International, using a presentation slide that was humorous and informational at the same time – big kudos to her!

Lai Yee then moved on to introducing all the role-players for the night. Our Vice-President of Membership, Wong Mi Shan played the part of the Grammarian – it is because of her that I’ve dug a little deeper into feminism. Jovial Becky took on the role of Ah-Counter, while Yeap Wei Leeng, fresh from his “Far, Far Away” speech in the previous meeting, returned with poise as the Timekeeper. This meeting might have been themed “No Limits”, but our Timekeeper worked hard in ensuring that we kept time.

The General Evaluator of the meeting was Chin Yeow Honn, one of our club’s favourite regulars – and this time, in preparation for Chinese New Year, he came with a big jar of almond cookies to share with everyone. A small gesture on his part, but one that went a long, long way.

The ambiance of the meeting became even more electrifying when resident cute-guy and club Sergeant-At-Arms Chong Chee Siong took the stage as Table Topic Master. Chee Siong is a shrewd guy when it comes to humor – he also knows how to uplift you in just the right way, the cute-guy way.

The first speaker who bravely volunteered is none other than the youngest member of our club, Ryan Ting. Heart-throb wannabe Ryan returned from his hiatus – it was a one-meeting hiatus but we still missed him like crazy anyways! The second speaker who attempted to speak extemporaneously was none other than Timothy Nagapapa, the fellow who got me thinking that perhaps he is a Pablo Picasso with words. Third and fourth Table Topic speakers of the night were the handsome guests – Dylan and Kenneth. At the end of the meeting, the Best Table Topic Speaker award went to ol’ Timmy - Timothy Nakayama.

.The night then reached that most electrifying of moments, when suspense met anticipation – welcome to the Prepared Speech Session, where we were greeted to speeches by novices and fully-fledged speakers alike.

The first to kick-off our journey of speeches was the biblical Eve Chong, who delivered her Ice-Breaker speech, titled “Up and Down”. She shared the “ups and downs” of her life, sending home the point that without experiencing the “down” parts of your life, you’ll not appreciate the awesome feeling you get when you enjoy the “Top of the world” feeling when you reach the “ups”. Eve also shared a Chinese idiom – Failure is the mother of Success. Eve gave many examples of the “ups and downs” in her life, from her teenage and young adult life, to her job as a dealer-representative of RHB investment bank, where she experienced the Up-and-Down Rollercoaster on a daily basis every time she checked the stock market index and investor sentiment. Eve did a fantastic job and won the Best Prepared Speech award of the night.

The second speaker of the night was the ever-calm, ever-poised Kow Chee Khon. He delivered his CC#2, titled “Live A Better Life with Butt”. Chee Khon started by first asking us what the exact purpose of our butts was, thus eliciting a great amount of curiosity among the audience. The correct answer (according to Chee Khon) is: running. He went on to advice that the audience could stop the abuse of butts everywhere by taking up running. Chee Khon also gave the two biggest excuses for people skipping exercising: (First) too busy, (Second) too stressed! He then pointed to the fact that even US President Barrack Obama runs for 45 minutes each day – and who’s going to be more busy and stressful than the President of the United States of America? Thanks to Chee Khon, I got my ass back into running the very next day!

The third speaker for the night was Christy Chang. Her voice rang loud and clear as she delivered her CC#7, speaking on the phenomenon known as “Couchsurfing”. Christy hooked those members of the audience who were still in the dark about couchsurfing by promising that this was a way they could get free accommodation while travelling! To be frank, I had no idea what couchsurfing was until Christy enlightened me with her speech; I like the idea – it’s like the key objective of this global initiative is to bring together like-minded travelers who want to travel in a more authentic and less tourist-y way, in order to promote authentic and sincere cultural exchange. Thanks, Christy! I’ll definitely be trying out couchsurfing in the near future.

Fourth speaker of the night had the experience and expertise of being a brand expert, which naturally accounted for his being smartly dressed, with a full-on suit and tie, standing tall and straight, and articulating ideas with clarity and insight – all hail the great Ian Lai, who delivered his CC#9 speech “It’s Never Too Late”. Ian hooked us good by sharing an interesting bit of fact – 90% of people will forget their New Year’s resolution within just 3 days’ time. The core message of Ian’s speech centred around the importance of punctuality; he reminded us all that we often have a tendency to be late in achieving our own resolutions. He went on to share a useful way for the audience to bring back lost time, to think on our feet about who we are to our closest ones, to our career and our friends – to write it all down on a note and stick it firmly on the mirror, a perpetual reminder that resolutions need to be achieved in a timely manner!

After all the insightful information and knowledge from all the speakers, we went straight into Cheerful Mode, as we tend to do at Mid Valley TMC – Ta-da, we got to enjoy a delectable Secret Recipe cake, served every second meeting of the month. And we had approximately 10 minutes to enjoy that and take a bathroom break.
When time finally caught on to us again, we were in the Evaluation session, where experienced and seasoned speakers gave their valuable feedback on the speakers they’d be assigned to. Ang Chee Yong evaluated all the Table Topic speakers. Chong Carmen leapt onto the stage as Eve Chong’s evaluator. Wong Woon Pen gave us his thoughts about butt and Kow Chee Khon’s speech, Timothy Nakayama surfed with Christy Chang on her couchsurfing speech, and Sharm Siva stepped in to do the honors for Ian Lai’s lightning-fast inspirational speech.

All in all, I felt that I’d gained a lot by attending this (and every one of our club’s) meeting. The wonderful part about Toastmasters is not how great the speakers are (which they are), or how tremendously insightful the speeches are (which again, they are), but the group of people who come together and take the time to spend attending the meeting and making it happen. We’re all here with the same goal: to improve our public speaking skills, to advance in life by honing our leadership skills. In Toastmasters, there has always been loads of encouragement – it’s a great platform to learn public speaking. And you get to know more like-minded people and make new acquaintances and friends!

Although I’ve only just delivered my first project speech CC#1, I can already feel that I’ve got more confidence when it comes to public speaking. I must say that I have the utmost gratitude for whoever came out with so many great Toastmasters ideas, and also to the Exco members of Mid Valley TMC, who have spend a lot of time and effort to keep the club going strong. Last but not least, for those who have not yet had the pleasure to visit a Toastmasters club, feel free to pay Mid Valley Toastmasters Club a visit. Every minute you spent at the meeting will be worth it. You have my word.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Meeting #251: Let It Go (By Chee Khon, Kow)

Walking into the meeting late, with my spirit all beaten up by the horrendous traffic congestion and heavy evening rain, my feelings was not all too great initiallyBut it turned out to be a pleasant surprise seeing a room filled with enthusiastic members and guests.  When our Toastmaster of the Evening (TME), Cheky, delivered his opening speech in cheeky humor, it gave my beaten spirit a ‘shot in the arm’. He reminded us that we have indeed chosen to spend the ‘Winter Solstice’ festival with the Toastmaster family above anything else 

Bravo to all of you who made it for this meeting! 

Besides that, what else made this meeting worth attendingWas it worth the sacrifice of spending once a year’s ‘Winter Solstice Day’ at home sweet home with your beloved family?    

The traditional eating of sweet dumplings or ‘Tangyuan during the winter solstice symbolizes reunion and that we are soon to grow a year older (wiser – perhaps this is a better choice of word!). 

The #251 meeting was insightful and meaningful for at least one of the two brave souls who conquered their fears in their Ice Breaker Speeches. We walked out the room with a metaphorical mouthful of dumplings, a symbol that we gleaned some points of wisdom from the speeches.

The meeting’s theme “Let it Go!”  might not have been heeded by many. There were so many good thoughts and lessons to take home with us. Our memories might not be able to ‘bite off more than it can chew’, hence this written blog post may serve as the naturally preserved food (of thought), fresh for later consumption, at your own convenience. Certainly for those who missed this meeting, I’ve left some sweet ‘Tangyuan’, complimentary from MV Toastmaster Club, here on this blog for you to savour :)

Helping to put the house in order was our SAA Evelyn Chong. The opening speech was delivered by our President Shim Chee Loon and this was followed by a round of self-introduction by our guests. The TME Cheky followed up with his round of introducing the Role Players for the night.  A big kudos to the self-sacrificing noble volunteers, for without them our meeting would not be as successful! They are none other than Jonnathan Moh, ACB, CL (Grammarian), Timekeeper (Siew Wan Pin), Chironjit Das, CC, ALB (General Evaluator), Shim Chee Loon (Ah-Counter).

The meeting went into upswing mode when our Table Topics Master, Timothy Nakayama ACG, ALB claimed the stage and offered his “Rice Bucket” challenge. After explaining his Table Topic rules (which did not require pouring the rice over your head…), the first volunteer, me (Kow) took up the challenge. The season’s holiday mood did help. Many of the guests took up the challenge as well. Among them, a commendable brother and sister combo, Koe Shern and Koe Yee courageously took up the challenge and performed their table topics with poise and impressed us with their sincerity.

Chen Choon of Elite TMC came in with his ACB skill and delivered his Table Topic, laid out with some inspiring never-let-your-dreams-go messages to the new and wannabe Toastmasters.

The last Table Topic speaker was our lady guest, Vivian. Yielding to the insistence from our charming President Chee Loon that we encourage lady volunteers for our Table Topics (and of course supported by many as well), Vivian from Melbourne took up the last Table Topic, ending the Table Topic session with a well-deserved round of applause. At the end of the meeting, the Best Table Topic Speaker award went to Koe Shern.

On to the project speeches, we had two Toastmasters and also working colleagues, Daniel Lim and Yeap Wei Leeng, delivering their maiden Ice Breaker Speech. Daniel, an Area Sales Manager of Optometrist Lenses and a fan of hunky starlet Daniel Wu, delivered his speech with the title ‘Miracle.’ Daniel shared his up-and-down days growing up in his family, first job and first car among others. While Yeap, a Professional Optometrist spoke on the topic ‘Far Far Away’, started off with the story of his grandpa travelling here from ‘a land far away’, China, how he graduated as a professional optometrist from a local university and is now working toward  the noble-cause of assisting people with vision impairment in achieving 20/20 vision (eye-sight). Well done, Daniel and Yeap! You deserved the standing ovation from all of us to celebrate your courage.

The third speaker, Chong Chee Siong, a Sapura-Kenchana Oil & Gas Engineer, delivered his CC#7 speech slickly, on the subject of ‘Oil’. Chee Siong put in extra effort by bringing along with him a sample of Crude Oil for the benefit of members and guests. He brought us back to memory lane, in the year of 1859, when Colonel Edwin first discovered Crude Oil. Then he taught us how crude oil is formed. Without his speech we might not be aware that the Barrel Crude Oil Standard measurement is indeed 159 litres. He talked about the economic aspect of how the supply and demand equation impacts crude oil pricing. We all learnt a lot from you, Chee Siong!

The last project speech was delivered by our VP of Membership, Wong Mi Shan CC, who attempted her ACM Oratorical Speech titled ‘Women’s Rights Are Human Rights’. It was all written on her face, that this was indeed her most passionate subject. She walked to the rostrum and took to the stage with gusto. She mimicked Hillary Clinton’s speech of women’s right at the UN Conference in Beijing. The virtuous speech of championing women’s right worldwide, reminded us that there are many young girls around the world being denied basic education, and condemned to child marriages while mothers are deprived of the equal career opportunities due to providing for their children at home. Mi Shan’s posture during the speech brought elements of Mother Teresa’s grace and Hillary’s charisma into her speech. As a result, Mi Shan won the Best Project Speaker award.

After the solemn speech by Mi Shan, the meeting went into a lighter mode as we then held the cake cutting in celebration of the December babies among guests and members alike. Then we took 15 minutes for a refreshment break.

Upon returning from the break, General Evaluator Chironjit Das brought us into the Evaluation round, with Wong Woon Pen, ACB CL kick starting proceedings with  his feedback for  the Table Topics session. Woon Pen, a celebrated and seasoned speaker, gave us his much valuable feedback. One of them was that we should have taken the most of the time given to us on stage. Most of us (me included) rushed to complete our Table Topic before or once the timekeeper’s light turned amber. Guilty of this myself, his feedback was very much appreciated.

Christy Chang’s evaluation provided good feedback for Daniel. She commended his straight forward speaking traits. Vivien Lim in turn also provided great thoughts to Yeap and some words of encouragement. Well done to Christy and Vivien.

Jonathan Moh, ACB, CL offered Chee Siong (and many of us) some valuable advice of ‘Poker Game’ strategy in crafting speeches. We should not disclose the main message (i.e. the Royal Flush) too early or too late in the speech. Delivering it right in the middle of the speech is ideal according to him. A very good piece of advice, Jonathan!

Lee Chen Choon, ACB (Elite TMC) in his evaluation on Mi Shan, provided us with some prized lesson as well. Chen Choon, in his evaluation spoke of the power of the pause and pace when emphasizing one’s points during a speech. This is great advice for all of us. Thank you Chen Choon!

Chironjit Das, CC, ALB in his General Evaluator’s report, encouraged us to seize the opportunity of this club’s great facility which is enviable in comparison with many of the clubs that he had been to. We were reminded that we were lucky and should make an effort to attend meetings as often as we could.

He also advised the members of MV TMC to generate more energy during the meetings as this would help liven things up for those attending. We thank you for all your sound advice, Chironjit!  

After Awards presentation and the guests’ feedbacks, the MV Toastmaster’s No. 251 meeting finally ended. What is worth noting though is that it was our last meeting for the year 2014. We were still spending our time busy basking in the ‘Tangyuan’ effect from the meeting, the delicious food that made us all grow a year ‘wiser’ in our journey to be a better speaker and leader.  

Finally, since we are just 3 days shy from the Season’s Holiday, I am sending my warmest wishes to every MV Toastmasters Members and Reader of this Blog. Have a joy-filled Season’s Holiday!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!    

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Usual Weekend with the Unusual Group – Mid Valley Toastmasters Club’s Christmas Party 2014 (By President Chee Loon, Shim)

I mean it - the unusual group, further clarification will be provided as you continue reading. Last Saturday (20/12/14), it was my pleasure to join Mid Valley Toastmasters Club’s (MV TMC) Christmas party, organized by the Secretary of MV TMC – Christy Chang.

The unusual attendees of the party were as below:
1.      Wong Mi Shan
2.   Timothy Nakayama
3.      Christy Chang
4.      Shim Chee Loon
5.      Cheky Ng
6.      Vivien Lim
7.      Chong Carmen
8.      Becky
9.      Sam (Becky’s friend, just friend)
10.  Wan Pin
11.  Wayne Poon
12.  Ang Chee Yong
13.  Mrs. Ang (Ang Chee Yong’s wife)
14.  Little Ang (Ang Chee Yong’s daughter)
15.  Ryan Ting
16.  Jonathan Moh
17.  Eve
18.  Daniel Lim

 *For illustrative purposes only

We started the party at around 7.30 pm and kicked-off  the Christmas celebrations with a wonderful food & drinks extravaganza!

·         Carmen’s Spanish fruit platter
·         Jonathan’s healthy homemade ice cream (no preservatives)
·         Tim & Mi Shan’s mushroom, feta & leek tart + pumpkin & potato gratin (full of love)
·         Christy’s Nando’s flame-grilled PERi-PERi chicken (bought under the rain – full of affection and some sweat)
·         Wan Pin’s KFC chicken bucket & potato wedges (all the way from Seputeh)
·         Ang Family’s home-cooked fried mee hoon (cater for vegetarian as well) + pandan cake
·         Cheky & Vivien’s priceless cake (three days booking required)
·         Chee Loon’s special cocktails (group contribution from Daniel, Eve, Wayne & Ryan as well)

We were excited about the food and almost finished every single piece of it, simply because we were unusually hungry and the food was yummy too. The variety and portion of food were just nice, not too much yet sufficient. Credit goes to the F & B Manager – Timothy Nakayama.

We then proceeded to the unusual Table Topics session conducted by Wong Mi Shan. Why do I say unusual? The Table Topics Master decided to do it differently by allowing all of us (a total of 16, excluding Little Ang and the Table Topics Master herself) the opportunity to participate! And all the Table Topics were unusually CHALLENGING! Just to name a few:

  •  My first time.
  • Tell us one secret about yourself that no one knows about.
  • Tell us an instance when you embarrassed yourself.
  • Are you generous or cheap with yourself?
  • Tell us how and where you meet your current significant other.

The questions were indeedchallenging. Our shining speaker,also known as the most dramatic queen, Chong Carmen, was stunned for seconds when she was given one of the questions above. At the end of the session, the Table Topic Master was forced by the crowd (a total of 17 participations) to do Table Topics, with the question being posed by the crowd. That ended  our Table Topics session! We follow the motto of – ‘what stays there ends there’, an agreement we have made with Ryan Ting before he delivered his Table Topic.

The party continued with some fun games. There were two parts. Part One was led by Becky, a game called Truth or Dare, which everyone was already familiar with. As usual, ‘expected’ questions were being asked to whom the spinning bottle pointed to. The climax of the game was – the provocative & sensuous pole/pillar-dance performed by Jonathan Moh It was way better than all the shows located along the Walking Street, Pattaya.

Part Two was then led  by Chong Carmen. We were separated into two groups. The game was about singing and numbering; the losing  group would have to perform whatever the winning  group requests. Toastmasters are always creative; we had dance, role-play and scene act. We burst out laughing during the role-play where  Becky played the part of a casualty in a car accident and Wayne being the kind-hearted pedestrian, stopped and offered help. Suddenly, Sam,  Becky’s acting husband, saw the moment where Wayne was performing CPR. He was pissed off and they started to… (Ask the blog writer for the rest of the story)

The event continued with the Best Dressed & the Lousiest Dressed.The dress code of the day was White, Silver and Gold. Everyone was given a minute to show  the crowd whether they fulfilled the dress-code requirements. And then we voted! . The Best Dressed went to Chee Loon (male representative) and Christy Chang (female representative) while the Lousiest Dressed went to, none other than Jonathan Moh. The Organizing Chair, Christy, decided to reinforce punishment to the Lousiest Dressed. Poor Jonathan was asked to take 4 cutest selfies.

The night ended with cake-cutting. Little Ang, assisted by Ang Chee Yong and Mrs. Ang, chaired the session. We then did some housekeeping in order to ensure that the venue was neat and clean; credit goes to Chong Chee Siong who  willingly  and selflessly lent us the use of this great venue.

I enjoyed myself, indeed. I see teamwork, joy and friendship. Sometimes, we just need to pull off the usual mask at the right time, act freely and be the unusual you.

 Tim introducing his dish.

Becky giving game instructions.

Little Ang’s show time.

 Chee Loon being humiliated by the crowd.

Jonathan Moh’s classic selfie.

 We are the fun loving Mid Valley Toastmaster Club members!