TM Macalister Mak, started our meeting free from concern, worry or anxiety. His confidence emerged once he accumulated plentiful stage time throughout his role as Sergeant-at-Arms. Ample experience, however, did not make him insouciant to his personal standards and responsibilities. Insouciant was the ‘Word of the Day’ introduced by our Grammarian, Chris Woo, CC. It is an adjective synonymous to nonchalant, unconcerned and carefree.
Instead, Macalister sustained his standards when he called for guest introduction with practiced grace. We were pleased to welcome our first time guest, Hajah Rahmah, and her husband, Haji Mohammad. We definitely have solid examples from our members to verify that couples who learn together, stay together! Definitely keep us in mind when you’re planning your next date night.
Kendrick and Phoebe of Maktab Sains Gavel Club inspired us with their umpteenth visit to acquire new knowledge. Another guest, Rayyan, spoke of feeling unprepared to learn public speaking when he first visited months back. But, he finally returned in hope to improve his communication skills, which he incessantly belittled despite speaking very well!
Our Ah Counter and Who Said What, TM Kelvin Lai, echoed his skepticism when he apologised for his unobvious nervousness. They are not alone in their self-doubt and many of our members joined and ‘volunteered’ to do roles and speeches with the aim of overcoming it. Yes, we still feel nervous! For when we do, our Timer, TM Hidayati Haris, gave us a tip. “Breathe and talk slowly.”
It will always be nerve wrecking to deliver a public speech, especially when your speech and delivery is evaluated. Feedback can make you or break you. Therefore, before our speakers took that one breath and speak, our Toastmaster of the Evening, TM Tieng Chwei Peng, shared her Thought of the Day. “Be selective when receiving and listening to feedback. Listen to those you trust and respect.”
With that, we listened as TM Awfa Nawawi began her CC2 Organise Your Speech Project titled, ‘The Magic of Colours’. Our eyes were fixed on her when she instructed us to close them and then open them again. It was then that she made us see the colourful world of difference between the dark and the light. In her world, colours have voices and each one speaks a different emotion. Youthful pink, sensitive blue, romantic red and cheerful yellow – these are but examples of their extensive language!
Awfa’s passion for colours was inherited from her painter mother. While on road trips, her mother would encourage her to look carefully outside at the colours that make up the palm trees, vast hills and rainforests. These colours later became triggers to her memories. When she noticed her gift of remembering colours, she made use of it in her studies by using coloured highlighters on facts to memorise. She also revealed how she remembers people through the colour they wear.
To Awfa, a painting was more than the sum of its parts. “A cow by itself is just a cow. The sun peeking through the trees is just a beam of light. But, put them all together and you’ve got magic.”
Awfa’s speech was magical in the way that it moved the hearts of those who listened. Her evaluator, Rahul Breh, CC, spoke for the audience when he gave high praises for her creativity and imagination. What made her speech work was her thoughtfulness in her writing, which made her speech flow beautifully.
Her passion for colours was conveyed through her enthusiastic and confident delivery, and was definitely reflected by her sweet smile. She established eye contact with one person at a time, keeping us engaged when we felt spoken to individually.
To make her speech even more effective, Rahul advised her to keep in mind the differences between written work that was intended for reading and one intended for listening. Speeches should be written for the ear, with the aim for them to be understood on the spot. Therefore, words and sentences should be clear and simple. These are but minor things which can improve with time and practice and we all look forward to seeing how Awfa will develop as a speaker!
TM Heidi Rahman has developed a lot since her last speech and participation in our Club Contest. Now that she has grown as a speaker, she decided to share her adventures of ‘growing’ during her first pregnancy, and how she painstakingly exercised her way back to her pre-pregnancy weight! With the title ‘I did it!’, it was an apt topic for her CC5 Your Body Speaks Project. Although Heidi considered herself a health freak, she did not enjoy sweating. Hence, for a long time, her healthy weight maintenance plan consisted only of counting calories. This proved to be impossible when she became pregnant.
“It’s your baby’s cravings, not yours.” “You’re eating for two.” It was hard not to see the ‘logic’ when everyone around you agreed. She was in for a shock when she saw a photo of who she first described as a ‘pumpkin’, before realising it was her! Still, she told herself that all that weight would go after giving birth. Of course, her baby was only about 2kg and she was left with the rest of the 15kg to lose.
She knew then that she needed to actively solve her weight gain problem and tried various exercise regimes as a solution. But, spinning was too easy to cheat in and she was hopeless at Steps. Zumba, which she first disregarded as a ‘silly dancing class for young people’ was what worked wonders for her. It provided excellent cardio workout and she was losing weight fast. After a while, her progress became stagnant and that was when her friend introduced her to Piloxing. She hiked, played netball, ran the treadmill. Today, she is only 1kg away from her pre-pregnancy weight!
The secret to her success was determination. Heidi reminded us all that there is no miracle to weight loss nor is there any shortcut to achieving our dreams. She implored us all to not be content with waiting. Success requires consistent effort and it is only when we put in our all that we can say ‘I did it!’
And you did it, Heidi! You’ve impressed us all with your humourous and inspirational speech. Her evaluator, TM Pooja Shivanand advised all to pay attention to habitual distractive gestures such as rocking back and forth while speaking, but nonetheless applauded her for being ‘natural’ with the rest of her body gestures. Movements on stage should not be forced nor should it be a physical interpretation of every manner we are describing in our speech. Heidi’s never-ending smile reflected her friendliness and it made us feel comfortable to laugh with her. Who would have thought that the struggles of losing weight could be funny?
Another topic that we did not expect to laugh to was on the health benefits of green tea. TM Aziman Nasir kick started his CC7 Research Your Topic Project entitled ‘The Miracle Beverage’ by listing three benefits: increasing alertness, boosting energy levels and fat loss.
Green tea has very little caffeine. Yet, Aziman only needed to drink a cup before work to sustain alertness until lunch time. He explained that this is due to another chemical called L-theanine which can increase brain function without the added ‘jittery’ side-effects of caffeine.
Another chemical, EGCG, signals for the breakdown of fats in our bodies. He then directed the audience’s attention to himself and insouciantly stated that it was green tea that helped him achieved his fat free body. When he received positive laughter from the audience, he tried to back up his bold statement with a scientific study. A study found that a group given isotonic drinks with green tea lost 17% more fat than another group which was only given isotonic drinks. He continued to explain that these two groups consisted of individuals following similar exercise routines. Again, with a nonchalant tone that incited much humour he said, “exercise is where I may be lacking.”
What he did not lack was approval from both his evaluator, Reuben Chin, ACS, ALB, and our Grammarian, Chris Woo, CC. Reuben especially liked the way he structured his speech by firstly stating his views, then supporting them with evidence from his research. It can be very difficult to maintain the serious tone of a research-based persuasive speech when it is injected with humour, but Aziman did well. One tip from Reuben was to avoid making light of chemical names when delivering a science based speech, as he felt that it could make a speaker lose credibility and persuasive power.
Chris mainly used Aziman as an example for his Rhetorical Device of the Day which was ‘Tone’. Different vocal tones allow you to see the perspective and attitude that a speaker adapts. Through tones, you can tell whether one is solemn or elated. Tone is important as humans have an innate tendency to mirror one another’s emotion. Hence, to incite excitement, a host, for example, must speak with enthusiasm. He further explained the enigma of Aziman’s ‘dead man’ tone (his words) leading to a room filled with laughter. When there is a mismatch to vocal tone and body language, laughter will ensue!
The laughter continued into our Table Topics Session, hosted by our Table Topics Master, TM Supatra Lee. With her theme, ‘Getting to Know You’, she asked speakers for their preferences over two choices. Helping her as Table Topics Evaluator, TM Gerald Goh paid close attention to every speech and gave many positive comments for each speaker.
TM Macalister Mak was the first to choose between eating at a restaurant or having a home cooked meal. It was a no-brainer for Mak as he recently started working and was constantly missing home cooked meals. Not only did he think it was delicious, it was also less lonely when you have company to eat with.
Genevieve Lai, DTM, mirrored his sentiments when choosing between city life and country life. She shared with us her experience of living in the big city of Paris and having too many people around, but the quantity somehow affected the quality of time spent with each one. It can be lonely. The same could be said with country life as houses were often further apart and it would be difficult to interact with as many people. Her solution to this dilemma was to live in a small town. You get to see smiles from the same people in supermarkets and slowly build up relationships in a close knit community. Her heartwarming speech earned her the tile of ‘Best Table Topic’ for the night!
It was equally heartwarming to watch young Phoebe attempt her Table Topic. When asked to choose between writing and typing, she started off quite meekly by stating that she would choose to type as writing can be a drag. Her confidence instantly soared when she remembered that she has a fast typing speed of 67 words per minutes. By the end of her speech, she cheekily challenged us ‘older generation’ to beat her score!
Another speaker who enjoys a challenge was TM Jack Chin. Jack was given a choice of either being a hawker style Kolo Mee stall boss or being a 9 to 5 employee. Without missing a beat, he chose to be a boss. Business can be challenging, but he was confident that he could make profit with Kolo Mee as it is a staple for most Bruneians. Also, he preferred the flexibility of the work hours.
Our 2 hours meeting ended with a short speech by our Brunei representatives for the Division K International Speech and Table Topics Contest. Although TM Julius Hong expressed sadness at not being placed in the Table Topics Contest, he knew he delivered the best Table Topic he ever had so far. He felt that the loss was the best thing that could ever happen to him as it made him more determined to further perfect his skills. We are proud and happy for you, Julius!
Our next pride and joy, Pranika Lama, ACB, ALB, came home a winner of the International Speech Contest! She shared with us her journey of writing and re-writing her speech and receiving mixed comments from various people. At times, it made her quite confused as to which advice she should pay attention to. In the end, she decided to listen to herself. She wrote her contest winning speech with that in mind and went thus far. “Trust in your story.”
Here ends the story of what happened last meeting. But, our stories of personal growth will carry on for as long as we let it.
TM Rahmat Tarsat
Rano Iskandar, CC, CL