Monday, February 16, 2015

Meeting #252: No Limits (Written by Daniel Lim; Edited by Timothy Nakayama)

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.