Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Meeting #261: The Final Countdown (Written by Yeap, Wei Leeng; Editted by Timothy Nakayama)

1.00:00 lunch 

and counting down



7:00:00 the sensational 261st Mid Valley Toastmasters Club meeting officially begun with a bang! 

This was the best possible way to start off what was the last meeting of the 2014/2015 term. Members and guests were greeted by the Sergeant-at-Arms (SAA) of the night, Quah. After his “gentle” reminder to make sure our electronic devices were switched to silent mode, Quah then passed control of the stage to the Prince Charming of Mid Valley Toastmasters Club, our President Shim Chee Loon. As the timing for the meeting was tight due to the number of speakers we had for the night, our dashing President was supposed to facilitate a short and sweet introductory breaking-the-ice session with members and guests alike, but the large number of guests at the meeting made this especially challenging!

Despite the tight schedule, our experienced Toastmaster of the Evening (TME) Ian Lai managed to give a succinct and informative introduction of Toastmasters International to our guests. He did it by introducing the following sequence of numbers: 91-2-313
91 – 2015 marked Toastmaster International’s  91st anniversary
2 – This number represents the two educational tracks in Toastmasters:  Communication & Leadership
313 – The total number of Toastmasters Club around the world numbers 313,000.
Ian also proved that “Malaysia Boleh” by citing the fact that Malaysia has the fastest growing Toastmasters membership compared to the rest of the world. That’s certainly something to be proud of!

Next came my personal favorite session of every Toastmaster meeting – the Prepared Speeches session. Each speaker prepares their speech in advance, and they then deliver it at the meeting, with each speech having a specific set of objectives as stated in the Competent Communication Manual. If you’ve been wondering about how these speeches go, you’re more than welcome to visit us to get a better understanding of the whole thing.

Past President Ang Chee Yong started the ball rolling by delivering the “Selecting Your Topic” module from the Better Speaker Series. He shared tips and suggestions on how to go about selecting a proper topic for your speech, no matter the type of speech you are going to be delivering to the audience. According to Chee Yong, an excellent speech topic is a combination of personal experience PLUS knowledge and research in regards to the speech topic PLUS getting to know your audience’s needs beforehand – all three are equally important. I’m guessing Chee Yong knew that he was going to have a very large audience, that’s why he chose this topic!

Personal stories always connect with people. “A Lesson Learned” from Becky Benjamin saw her sharing the ups and downs of her life since she moved to Kuala Lumpur at the age of 17. Despite the many challenges and obstacles that have stood, and perhaps will stand, in her way, this gutsy young lady vowed to fight all the way in order to reach her dream of one day being a successful entrepreneur. Becky’s simple and short content, vocal variety, and animated facial expressions earned the audience’s adulation and respect – and also the Best Speaker Award later at the end of the meeting. Congratulations to Becky Benjamin! You go, girl!

The adventuress, Christy Chang, completed her Competent Communication Manual by delivering the final speech in the manual, Project Speech #10. Her speech title was the enigmatic “Ichi Go, Ichi E”. Yes, a Japanese speech title! This Japanese saying states that we should treasure every moment of our lives, and everyone who has walked into our lives, as those things only come along once a lifetime. In her speech, Christy shared a harrowing experience of losing a very close friend. She ended with a reminder: that we cherish and appreciate every moment, as well as the presence of friends and family in our lives. Before she left the stage, she also reminded us that Father’s Day was just around the corner.

Another speaker who was completing her Project Speech #10 that night was Vivien Lim. Her speech title was “Make It Happen”, which was humorous in an ironic way due to the fact that she had to postpone her speech for a couple of months now due to her insane working schedule. Her speech called upon the audience to step out of their comfort zones, just as she did when she recently resigned from a job that she no longer liked. Vivien advised us that change is constant, and that we will all need to change in order to move forward.  It was a splendid showcase on the importance of good communication skills and how having those skills can enthrall the audience. To find out more about enhancing your communication skills, join us at Mid Valley Toastmasters Club!
Finally, and sadly, we came to the final Project Speaker of the night. Past President and experienced speaker Ang Chee Yong was up on the stage again, this time to deliver an Advanced Speech, “Delivering Bad News”. As you can probably guess from the title, it was a speech about how to deliver bad news. Yet somehow, the audience enjoyed Chee Yong’s speech and chuckled the whole way through! Full of bravado, Chee Yong later went on to claim that this is the difference between an experienced speaker and a novice, that only an experienced speaker could deliver bad news that made everyone laugh! However, the bad news in this case, the departure of two of our senior members, Timothy Nakayama and Wong Mi Shan, who are heading to the States, definitely struck a sad note. Chee Yong had certainly picked his bad news adroitly.

Then came another highlight of the night, the club’s Annual General Meeting (AGM). Guests were invited to enjoy the refreshments while members stayed on in the hall. After the current term’s EXCO presented their individual reports, the EXCO members for the next term (2015/2016) were elected.

Ever had a craving for cake? Another benefit of attending our meetings is that we always have a nice delicious birthday cake on the second meeting of the month, as a gesture of appreciation to our members celebrating their birthdays on that particular month. This meeting, we drove those Monday blues away with a delicious vegetarian cheese cake from Beyond Veggie.

The night continued with the Evaluation session, led by the General Evaluator, Sharm Siva, a familiar face at our club who hails from KL Advanced Toastmasters Club. Each speech evaluator presented his/her feedback to their assigned speaker. The speech evaluators for the night, in order, were: Mak Kum Shi, Chong Chee Siong, Timothy Nakayama, and lastly, Wong Woon Pen.

The feedback generally ran along the lines of all the speakers having good openings and solid points, doing well in verbal and non-verbal communication skills. Their conclusions, however, could have been a little stronger. Some of the speakers could have related their story and conclusion to the audience’s needs, thus allowing for more connection with their audience. I believe that this immediate feedback from the speech evaluators is of help to everyone in the room, not just the speakers but to the audience as well.

After the evaluations for the project speakers were done and dusted, we came to the technical evaluations. Grammarian Ken Jee, Timekeeper Christopher Chooi, and Ah-Counter William all gave their short and sweet reports.

Before the meeting came to a close, the Organizing Chair for the Blog Rejuvenation Campaign and Contest, Siew Lai Yee, announced the winner for the Second Round of Blogging. So not only do we help you improve your communication and leadership skills, but we help with writing skills as well! Congratulations to Ryan Ting and Daniel Lim, double winners! How were their blog posts? Have a search here and you’ll find out!

10 pm came around, and so our meeting came to an end. Mid Valley Toastmasters club, a place where fun and education come together every 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month!

Meeting #260: Smell the Roses (Written by Chong, Chee Siong; Editted by Timothy Nakayama)

8th June 2015 was another fine day for a great meeting with my fellow Toastmasters. The theme for the night’s meeting was “Smell the Roses”. I googled “Smell the Roses” and found that it means “to enjoy or appreciate what is often ignored”.


We started our meeting on time. The first rose among roses, TM Evelyn Chong, who was playing the role of Sergeant-at-Arms for the night, took to the stage with grace and confidence, welcoming all members and guests who were with us that night.

The audience comprised many of our new members as well as a handful of external Toastmasters. The Toastmasters that were visiting our club were CC Ricky Soo, from M.A.D (Make A Difference) Toastmasters Club, and CC CL May Ong from OUM (Open University Malaysia) Toastmasters Club. We were definitely very happy they had decided to join us for the night!

Even our President, TM Shim Chee Loon, was surprised with the good turnout. Such was the size of the audience that there were times during his introduction and ice-breaking session that he lost count of just who were the members and who the guests! He praised the club’s EXCO team, especially our Vice-President of Membership, CC Wong Mi Shan, for a job well done; his praise also extended to the club members, for creating a fun and energetic environment where everyone could learn and grow.

TM Daniel Lim then stepped onto the stage for his maiden attempt at being the Toastmaster of the Evening (TME), essentially the all-important host for the night’s meeting. He gave a brief introduction of himself and quickly ran us through the history behind Toastmasters International.

Up next was the Table Topics session, hosted by Table Topic Master TM Siew Lai Yee. Three brave volunteers stepped up to the plate to try their hand at Lai Yee’s Table Topics – TM Hamza, TM Quah, and our guest, Dorris. They took the opportunity to test their skills in impromptu speaking. The end result was an exciting trail of off-the-cuff stories that delighted the audience for a whole two minutes each.  

What followed next was the prepared speeches session, where we had four speakers in total. We had two speakers delivering CC#9 and CC#10 respectively, and another two speakers delivering their Advanced speeches. One of these advanced speakers would also go on to deliver a presentation from one of the Better Speaker Series’ modules.  

TM Christy Chang was the first speaker, presenting us with “Passive or Active?”. Although she had a somewhat nervous start, she came through in the end and presented us with a call-to-action: each of us has the power to decide whether we take an active approach to life, or a passive one.

Our President, CC Shim Chee Loon, definitely earned his standing ovation for the night. Not only did he complete his Competent Communication manual by delivering CC#10 (which deserves a standing ovation in itself), but he was all suave, charm, and persuasion as he delivered his final CC speech, “Never Give Up”. He encouraged everyone to start writing down their goals and desire, and to start planning our strategy to achieve those goals and desires, and to do it all with passion and a never-give-up attitude.

Past President, ACB ALB Ang Chee Yong, was up next, with his Advanced Speech from the Speeches by Management Advanced Communication Manual, titled “Communicating Change”. He played the role of the CEO of Toastmasters International. As CEO, he shared with us (the employees) the company’s performance, and then followed up by using his powerful persuasive skills to implore us to take the necessary steps required to implement his new vision for the company.

Our outgoing Vice-President of Education, ACG ALB Timothy Nakayama, completed his Public Relations Advanced Communication Manual by delivering his final speech, for both manual and our club. It was irreverently titled “The Kung Fu Chicken (KFC) Fiasco”. Tim played the role of CEO of Kung Fu Chicken (KFC), and delivered a press release in front of the press members (played by the audience), apologizing for the recent “incident” which involved an employee of Kung-Fu Chicken insulting a customer and then engaging the same customer in a bout of fisticuffs. Tim delivered the press release with a properly sombre and business-like mien. However, the seriousness in the room quickly unravelled when the press (us, the audience) started playing the part of journalists and proceeded to hit Tim with a lot of “challenging” questions. Tim was unable to contain his laughter as questions were posed to him by club members posing as journalists from “Kung Pow Press” (acted by Chong Chee Siong), “The Mahathir Daily” (acted by Ang Chee Yong), and “The Rocket” (acted by Wong Woon Pen).  Despite the ridiculous questions and names, Tim kept his cool and answered all questions suitably well.

 Right after that, Ang Chee Yong stepped up onto the stage again, this time to deliver his presentation from the Impromptu Speaking module, just one of the many interesting modules from the Better Speaker Series. He shared some tips and suggestions on how we could improve in our Impromptu Speaking skills.

After the break, our General Evaluator, May Ong, took control of the meeting’s Evaluation session. She kick-started the session by welcoming Table Topic Evaluator TM Yeap Wei Leeng up onto the stage to deliver his evaluation for the 3 Table Topic speakers. Wei Leeng gave our trio of Table Topic speakers a brief run-down of their strong speaking traits, as well as several points of improvements they could take on in order to become better at impromptu speaking.

Up next was our first Speech Evaluator, TM Mak Kum Shi, who provided feedback for TM Christy Chang’s “Passive or Active?” speech. This was Mak’s first time giving a speech evaluation after his long hiatus from Toastmasters. He delivered an insightful evaluation, highlighting key points based on the objectives outlined for CC#9 within the Competent Communication Manual.

Our guest from M.A.D Toastmasters club, CC Ricky Soo, then stepped onto the stage to evaluate our President Shim Chee Loon’s “Never Give Up” speech. He gave four spot-on suggestions to Chee Loon, suggesting that our President make use of acronyms, mention specific role models during the telling of his anecdotes, improve eye-contact, and try using the flip chart more effectively.

The Speech Evaluator for Ang Chee Yong was none other than our experienced evaluator Timothy Nakayama. He praised Chee Yong’s choice of words, which were both simple and easy to understand. He suggested a few ways Chee Yong could improve on speech content – by sharing in specific detail on the steps necessary to implement his new vision for the company, rather than just pointing out the improvements in a broad, general, and ambiguous sense. In this way, Chee Yong could perhaps get better buy-in from the employees (us, the audience).

Then we had ACB CL Wong Woon Pen, another experienced evaluator. Mr. Wong tickled our funny bones with the mischievous expressions and witty one-liners peppered throughout his evaluation of Timothy Nakayama’s “The Kung-Fu Chicken (KFC) Fiasco”. He pointed out (rightly) that Tim was unprepared to handle the strange questions thrown at him by the even stranger “journalists”. Mr. Wong suggested that Tim could have added more gravitas to his speech by offering a public apology with more emotional punch to it, which could have given a better impression to the public.

After the evaluations for each of the prepared speeches, our Grammarian for the evening, TM Christopher Chooi, shared with us the good sentences, grammar, and words he had noted down throughout the meeting, as well as offering alternatives to the few grammatical mistakes that had been made.

Up next was our Timekeeper, TM William Cheong. He shared with us the timing on each of the meeting’s sessions, as well as the time taken by each of the speakers, evaluators, and role-players. We found out that we were slightly behind time – it came as a surprise to us, as we usually end very much on time!

Our General Evaluator, May Ong, was up next, with her General Evaluator report. She detailed the small little ways the club could take to improve our meetings, and she also gave feedback on the performance of both the TME, Daniel Lim, and the Table Topic Master, Siew Lai Yee. May ended her report by saying that she enjoyed the meeting immensely, and that she is looking forward to coming back to Mid Valley Toastmasters Club for another visit in the near future!

The final technical evaluator, Ah Counter TM Chong Chee Siong, gave his report, detailing the number of speech crutches all of us made throughout the meeting.

Finally, we arrived at the award presentation session! The Best Table Topic Speaker went to Dorris, who was actually attending her first-ever Toastmasters meeting. Congratulations to Dorris! Not yet a Toastmaster but so courageous in coming up onto the stage – a splendid attempt!

The Best Project Speaker Award went to Timothy Nakayama. Congratulations to Tim, who triumphed over all... to win this award again!
The Best Evaluator Award went to Wong Woon Pen. His evaluation for Tim was top-notch – it was a great evaluation for sure and an example of how exciting, informative, and humorous an evaluation can be. Definitely a lesson for us all.

Overall, the meeting went smoothly. It was certainly a memorable night for everyone. The laughter, good cheer, and camaraderie flowed through the air like a warm, silky breeze – this was yet another you-can’t-miss-this-event by Mid Valley Toastmasters Club. To tell you the truth, I am already looking forward to the next meeting!

Written by,
Chee Siong
21 June 2015

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Meeting #259: Outside Your Comfort Zone – Where The Magic Happens (Written by William Cheong; Edited by Timothy Nakayama)

This is the season to witness the magic. Come out from your comfort zone and be part of the Mid Valley Toastmaster Club fun!

The theme for our 259th meeting was “Outside Your Comfort Zone – Where The Magic Happens”. The inspiration behind the theme came from that famous quote by the American author, Neale Donald Walsch ~ “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” 

What magic was waiting for us that night?

Well, firstly, we had a couple of advanced speakers delivering their advanced speeches.
We had visitors from outside the Klang Valley – all the way from China, India, Australia, and Egypt! What an international meeting!
“Aspire” was the word of the day, which our Acting President Chong Carmen made everyone use once in her introduction. Sneaky!

When the Table Topics session came around, the international flavor burst out again as most of the speakers were our foreign guests.
First up we had the representative from Malaysia, our very own Kow Chee Khon. “If you are able to morph into an animal, which animal would that be?” Kow aspired to be a flying squirrel!

Next up was Sri, our guest from India, who spoke about a major change in his life that made him a better person.

Pete, a visiting Toastmaster from Australia, shared with us on just how motivated he was to make changes in his life.

Ronan, from China, gave a vivid account of what she would like to change in her past. “I would be happier today if I had known of Toastmasters earlier in my life!”
Next, came the Project Speakers.

I’m a fan of the table top card game “Magic the Gathering”, and just like the card game, where different elite magic-wielding warriors gather from different planes and dimensions to do arcane battle, I felt the four speakers that night were pretty much like that as well, different speakers from different backgrounds, all coming together to delight the audience with their wondrous and magical speeches.

Christy Chang once again shared with us an exciting experience from her travels, with “Bungy Jump”. She brought us to the edge of a cliff, where we fought her fears together, and in the end, we jumped with her, on her first wet bungy jump.

Right after that courageous jump down into cold icy waters, we had another speaker who invited us to soar into the skies. Sky Siew’s “Are You a Duck or an Eagle” tells the story of how a shift in our perspectives helps us move from a state of constant complaining (like the quacking of a duck), to a life where we can achieve more by soaring without limits (like an eagle!).

Seasoned speaker Ang Chee Yong brought us back to earth with the realities of “Appraise with Praise”. He regaled us with Mid Valley Toastmasters Club’s many achievements and the magic of consistently having around 30 active members throughout all our years of existence as a Toastmasters Club.

Timothy came on next, with “Women’s Beauty: The Price Of”. He started off by warning us that while praise and compliments are good, we should avoid constantly complimenting women on their looks, as if that was the only thing of importance in the fairer sex. He created the hostility and challenged the audience with his opposing idea (as part of the project requirement). At the end, he slowed down and begun empathizing with the audience, pacifying the roaring crowd with his convincing points.

With all four speeches delivered, we took a refreshment break to celebrate!

 The Magical Cake holding us spellbound!  Mass Birthday Celebration!
Right out of tea break and our short-lived social moment, we then moved on to the Evaluation session, which gave us a recap of all the project speeches. Later, we sat through the technical reports from the Ah-Counter, Timekeeper, and Grammarian, as well as our Special Guest of the Day, our General Evaluator all the way from Money & You TMC, Tan Yong Jue.

The Award Winners for Mid Valley Toastmasters’ 259th Meeting!
A hearty congratulations to all the winners!

(From the left)
Best Table Topic Speaker: Pete
Best Project Speaker & Best Evaluator: Timothy
Token of Appreciation to General Evaluator: Tan Yong Jue

Here at Mid Valley Toastmasters Club, the magic never ends. But unfortunately, the evening had to. We look forward to your presence at our next meeting! A hearty appreciation goes out to everyone who gave their time to be with us for our 259th meeting. May the mythical force be with the club and bring us many more members and entertaining meetings in the very near future.

-- William Cheong, WeeLau.