August 2015 – Serene Hua

Serene is a Human Resource manager and a lovely mother of two beautiful children. Although Serene is an introvert, she has great passion in self-development and a curious personality.  She believes that there is no age limit when it comes to learning, and failure is just a stepping stone towards success.

TM Serene Hua

How did you first hear about Toastmasters?

I first heard of Toastmasters from friends who told me Toastmasters had inspired them to better themselves. I was curious to find out more, and this prompted me to join one of the BSC meetings as a guest in July 2013.

Why did you join Toastmasters?

I joined Toastmasters because I wanted to improve my English and communication skills. I was very impressed with the flowery language some of the Toastmasters used in their speeches. Listening to the way they deliver their speeches with beautiful words and emotion was like listening to a beautiful song. Also, I learned a lot from some of the encouraging yet sharp, critical, and constructive feedback given to me and other speakers in the evaluations. I was very much encouraged by the positive atmosphere in Toastmasters meetings and the support Toastmasters give to one another.

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Serene with her beautiful daughter at a Toastmasters meeting

How long have you been in Toastmasters and how have Toastmasters helped you so far in your professional life?

I joined Toastmaster officially in Oct 2013.

Dealing with human resource and performance issues on a daily basis, I use the sandwich method to deliver critical and constructive feedback. People take criticisms better if we first acknowledge and genuinely recognise their hard work and achievements. Then, when we suggest areas of improvement for them to work on, they become much more receptive. This has resulted in higher staff morale, a happier workforce, and improved staff performance.

What is your favorite speech project or role in Toastmasters?

My favourite speech project was being the test speaker in an evaluation contest. Even though it was nerve-wracking to be judged publicly by so many people on my speaking skills, I learned a lot from the experience and have never regretted taking up that challenge.

My favourite role in Toastmasters is the Table Topics Master. Finding interesting questions for fellow toastmasters or guests to speak impromptu for two minutes can be challenging but rewarding. I find the table topics sessions to be the most fun part out of the two hours Toastmasters meetings as I always look forward to interesting questions given by the Table Topics Master, in addition to the clever and entertaining answers responded by the speakers.

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You were involved in many leadership and organizing roles in Toastmasters over the past year. Tell us about the challenges that you faced and overcame.

One challenge I faced in a particular project was having to deal with people with very different views, styles and paces of doing things. I learnt that it is part of an organiser’s job to help strike a balance or look for a compromise, while making sure that things are run smoothly and on time. Overall, many fellow toastmasters were willing to help out and the experience was enriching.

You attended many Toastmasters conferences. Tell us about your learning experience.

Attending Toastmasters conferences has been eye-opening, especially the Toastmasters International Convention in Kuala Lumpur on 21 Aug 2014. We learnt and heard speeches from highly qualified and skilled speakers from all around the world. I was inspired by the dedication and enthusiasm these toastmasters possess. On top of that, witnessing one of our club members participating in the World Championship of Public Speaking and winning the semifinals was a proud moment for all Toastmasters from Brunei. During these conferences, it was also very encouraging to see the tremendous amount of support our fellow Toastmasters gave to competitors from other countries. These conferences enhance bonding between Toastmasters.

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Serene with Brunei’s Toastmasters at Miri Convention in 2014

Who is your inspiration in life and why?

I am inspired by successful people who do well in their lives. Being successful to me can mean leading a happy life or having strong family bond, or running a thriving business. I am inspired by people who are not afraid of adversity in life, who never give up, and who always find the courage to stand up again and again against all odds even if they have fallen hundreds of times.

What are your goals for this term (2015-2016)?

My goals for 2015-2016 are to complete my Competent Communicator and Competent Leader manuals, and to sharpen my communication and evaluation skills.

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Serene at Brunei Advanced Speakers Club