Sergeant-At-Arms TM Macalister Mak kick-stared the meeting with an introduction filled with enthusiasm to match the sprightliness of the guests. The evening was invigorated by the attendance of the Chung Hwa Middle School’s Gavel Club. A thank you to Ong Yin, CL for organising a much appreciated presence as we moved into the 31st Week of the term.
Electrified by the guests’ energy, our Toastmaster of the Evening Reuben Chin, ACS, ALB took the stage, almost tripping over himself due to the excitement. After a courteous greeting he shared his thought of the evening, advising that although not all of us can do great things, we can all do small things with great care. A simple but essential concept that most take for granted. Thank you Reuben for the wonderful reminder.
The meeting’s Grammarian Chris Woo, CC introduced his Word of the Evening, ’WEISENHEIMER’ (wi•sen•hei•mer), an informal noun referring to a wiseacre or smart alek. For his report later in the evening, Chris will be focusing on the rhetorical device, ’LITOTES’ (li•tuh•tees) an understatement usually meaning the opposite of an intended meaning.
TM Heidi Rahman and TM Jidun Dollah round up the remaining of the meeting’s roles players as the Ah-Counter & Who-Said-What, and Timer & Tip respectively. Heidi’s listening skills will be tested in her first attempt at the role. Jidun shared his tip that Time is much more precious than Gold since Gold can still be bought or sold, while Time cannot be traded and is thus priceless. Congrats to Heidi for taking one step forward in her Toastmaster journey and thank you Jidun for the insightful tip.
TM Kelvin Lai got the Prepared Speeches session under way as he revisited his Competent Communicator Project 3, Get to the Point. His speech, entitled “WhatsApp: To Group or Not To Group” tells the struggles of his relationship with the mobile application, WhatsApp. When used casually, WhatsApp can be a convenient, cheap, and instant form of communication. But when used for work it can be overwhelming, especially in the form of group messaging.
He shared simple steps to “end the madness”. First is to redefine your relationship with WhatsApp. Take control of the relationship and realise that you can choose whether to respond to the messages. Next is schedule when to use the app and fight the urge to check on it every few minutes. Only respond to texts for work AT work and no more after. And lastly, is to acknowledge that you are part of the cycle as well. Delay sending them instantly so you can re-evaluate their importance and decide whether it is necessary to send a message to entire groups rather than to an individual.
In his conclusion, Kelvin reminded us that WhatsApp is just a tool. Do not allow it to enslave you and the general rule is to always be considerate. After all, you do not wake people up in the middle of the night, or shout into an office full of 40 people just to speak to one person. Why do the same with WhatsApp? Thank you Kelvin for such a perceptive and wonderful presentation.
Our next Prepared Speech was from TM Tieng Chwei Peng attempting her 6th Competent Communicator Project, Vocal Variety. Titled ‘Crisis!’, her speech was on the notion of the “Quarter-Life Crisis” syndrome. It is usually a sign of getting older, common among individuals freshly graduated from school and on the brink of adulthood. As Peng amusingly explained, Quarter-Life Crisis is a form of existential crisis where young adults start asking themselves questions like ‘what is the meaning of Life?’ or ‘what am I doing with my life?’.
Being a young adult herself, Peng’s first personal encounter with the syndrome were fairly recent. She shared of when she was shopping at a cosmetics store, a sales assistant tried to sell her anti-aging skin care products. Peng then recounted the time she was hiking up the Great Wall of China. While she was already tired and out of breath, the Chinese grandmothers were actually walking faster than her with no signs of slowing down. During a Sunday brunch with her peers, Peng found herself flabbergasted by news that some of her ex-classmates are already leading successful careers, or happily married with families while she herself barely started her adult life.
These incidents forced Peng to do some self-reflection. Seeking words of wisdom, she consulted with her older friends in their 30’s. From them she learned to stop comparing herself to her peers as different people go through life differently in their own pace. They advised her to not think too much about how life is supposed to be, as well as to take time and organise the different aspects of her life in order to figure out how she wants her life to be. They also warned her however that the feelings of inadequacy don’t go away and the syndrome will never end. Thank you Peng for sharing what you’ve learned with the audience.
After a short break, the audience was privy to a B.E.S.T. presentation by Shawn Narcis, DTM. Speaking on Leadership, Shawn drew from his past experiences to tell an inspiring story of how nobody is a born leader, but rather leadership is something we can all learn.
Shawn’s journey of leadership was a long and prolific one. He never saw himself as a leader. Growing up, he’d rather play second fiddle to somebody else, where he’s safe from responsibility and accountability. Wanting to change that mind-set, he joined the Toastmasters programme. With Toastmasters, his leadership qualities slowly but surely emerged. From initially serving as the Club Sergeant-At-Arms, to now as the District Club Growth Director he learned the characteristics of what makes a great leader, earning him the endearing title of ‘Papa Shawn’ from all Toastmasters in the Area.
The first aspect of leadership Shawn learned was the importance of having character. As different characters form different types of leadership, it is vital to build our own characters. Secondly, he touched on the significance of creating bonds with others. Leaders always involve people. You cannot do everything all by yourself. Teamwork is essential and true leaders support people working together at what they are individually good at. Lastly, he advised that having a vision is essential to a leader. Vision gives leaders a sense of purpose that provides motivation and inspiration to others.
The uniqueness of our characters, the bonds that we create with others, and the vision we are trying to achieve that defines our leadership. Thank you Shawn, for all that you’ve shared. All the best in your journey towards excellence.
Congratulations to Ruey Chong-Narcis, ACB, ALS for winning the title of best evaluator of the evening for her evaluation of Peng’s Speech. An evaluation that was both constructive and motivating.
Another week, another wonderful session of fun and learning. Our sincerest gratitude to all that took part and all guests in attendance. Look forward to our next meeting on 9th February 2016.
Jordan Yau, CL
TM Gerald Goh