From Concrete to Love

The momentum just carried on from where it left off last week. New faces trickled in, notably guests who have the desire to learn from a toastmasters meeting and we hope this trend will follow suit on future meetings. There were many pulling factors in shaping the awesome meeting on 16th of August – speeches by a concrete specialist TM Dalton Lim and love bunny extraordinaire Rahul Breh, CC; the heart-warming TM Sandy Tan (OTTERS) as the General Evaluator and hosted by a witty, entertaining Toastmasters of the Evening Pooja Shivanand, CC, CL, who peppered the transitions with humourous one-liners. You ought to create a workshop for being a TME one day, Pooja.

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Sergeant-at-Arms: The evening kicked off with the ever-improving TM Awfa Nawawi in her role as Sergeant-at-Arms (SAA), owning the stage and making the audience especially the guests feel welcomed. Those who turned up were in a treat as Awfa’s homemade cookies were the popular items on the refreshment table. The question is what will she surprise us with next week? Pooja was right, Awfa did a jubilant job as SAA and still does.

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Toastmasters of the Evening: It’s always beneficial to listen to Pooja as an evaluator and her countless ribbons as an evaluator speaks for itself. As a TME, she is no different, giving different dimensions and being creative in hosting the evening. She kicked off by sharing her thought of the day, adding current related events such as the on-going Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. What does the 16th of August signify? She hinted the puzzled audience with the phrase – “Bolt of Lightning” and immediately the audience knew she was referring to Usain Bolt, who won a Gold Medal in the 100 metres sprint on the same day, making him a “Triple Crown” (a triple gold medalist in the 100m category). Good pun, Pooja.

She expanded on Usain Bolt’s quote: “There are many good starters but I finish very strong.”  by saying that how we end or finish is more impactful and meaningful in different walks of life. Her examples resonated with the audience as she reminded them of the promises we make and especially the new year’s resolutions that may be have long forgotten by now (so true!). She concluded her thought of the day, saying that resolutions to lose weight will continue to be challenging if  SAA Awfa feeds them every week with her delicious homemade cookies.

So do remember to finish strongly.

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Grammarian: The ever petite Derby Teo, CC, projected her role as a Grammarian to great effect with passion as all the Word of the Day “Eradicate” were mentioned in the 1st part of the meeting. The visiting member from Young Spirit Toastmasters Seoul, Korea, focused on figurative language such as similes, metaphor and personification as a whole. With all these tools, the audience can have a great visual of the speakers’ content. To Derby’s delight, she caught many similes and personification examples during the meeting but unfortunately  she missed out being nominated for Best Evaluator as she took a minute extra in her report. Nonetheless, the listeners will leave the room with extra lessons and knowledge shared by our passionate Grammarian.

Word of the Day: Eradicate – To put an end to. To destroy completely.

1) Pooja Shivanand, CC, CL,. The crutch words will hinder the flow. So to help us eradicate those crutch words, please help me welcome our Ah Counter.

2) TM Mei-Ann. Eradicate any unnecessary sounds when you speak or else your speech will be less influential and be sub par.

3) TM Sandy Tan. To eradicate harsh evaluations that will break the  hearts (of the speakers).

4) TM Gerald Goh. With his (Dalton’s) vocal variety, it will help to eradicate the monotones in his speech.

5) TM Supatra. Which habit would you like to eradicate?

6) Hazman (guest). One habit that I want to eradicate is to be a last minute person.

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TM Jidun as the Timer & Tip.

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1st Speaker. TM Dalton Lim is a prime example of a dedicated toastmaster. Repeating his CC manual after being unsatisfied with his first three projects, he has excelled to greater heights as a communicator and a leader. Members are familiar with his character and hobbies from his previous speeches – a tourist guide, a basketball player, a gamer and a natural lover. Little that we know, his love for concrete was over the scale (ok, that’s an exaggeration). He admitted during his CC6 speech entitled “Job” that he was dubbed a “concrete specialist” and he cleverly utilised Pooja’s #thoughtoftheday where the finishing touch:  polishing the concrete is required so you will be able to see your own reflection. He injected a contrasting simile when he compared his liking to concrete with ice-cream. So guess who was moved by Dalton’s speech? None  other than Amran Jamaluddin, CC, who coincidentally works for a cement-producing company.

What his evaluator (TM Gerald Goh) said:

TM Dalton’s strengths lies in his ability to portray his intense emotions through vocal variety, for example, Dalton’s change of pitch was evident when he was on the subject of concrete #dontplayplay. Gerald was also impressed with his pacing from beginning to the end. He gave some useful tips to Dalton such as bringing the underlying message of his job and concluding his delivery with a passionate tone as a concrete specialist. Sadly, Gerald was so engrossed with his report like Derby and ended going overtime.

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2nd Speaker. The humorous manual is one of the toughest to execute according to Allen Ang, ACS, ALB, who was Rahul Breh’s, CC, evaluator. And yet, Rahul, accepted the challenge and this was his third project from the Advanced Manual under Humourously Speaking . The formula always works when you reveal your bad experiences or your love life or in Rahul’s case, his wife with the speech entitled, “How I stumbled upon her.” The more Rahul unveiled about his good memories, the more delightful surprise we experience as we discover an engineer can also be a smooth talker to unlock Pooja’s heart. During his university years (where he stumbled upon her), he began to question if his “level zero of dating” is sufficient or could it be seen as a form of stalking. His secret assessment of his love target involved a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis and it paid off handsomely after Rahul figured out she loves a good candlelight dinner. Yes, there are advantages of being an engineer in pursuit of a happiness that matches his intelligence. At the end of the day, it was his naivety that wooed his wife then. Rahul, you already had her at hello. The rest is history.

What his evaluator (Allen Ang, ACS, ALB) said:

Allen was straight to the point. He loved Rahul for the fact that Allen shares the same sentiment when it comes to a subject in a humourous speech. Talking about your spouse is a destined hit to bring laughter and Allen commended on Rahul’s approach. The former District Humourous finalist praised Rahul’s different sets that were funny and brilliant. He gave some pointers to take back to incorporate for the humourous manual:

1) Intelligence is the biggest stumbling block in humour

2) Tighten the script to make the punchline impactful (using a boxer as a metaphor in delivering “punchlines”)

3) set the timeline to lead the structure.

A very constructive feedback from champion evaluator. Allen received the biggest pop of the night when TM Jidun Dollah verbally announced that Allen was the only evaluator that eligible for the Best Evaluator ribbon for not exceeding the time limit. For the record, this was Allen’s second ribbon he won by default.

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Table Topics session: The meeting had a uniform theme because TM Supatra Lee tailored the questions to unlock the personalities of the Table Topics Speakers. A total of five speakers were called up by the Table Topics Master while one guest courageously shied away.

Optimistic or Pessimistic? Without a doubt, Rano Iskandar, CC, CL, chooses to be optimistic after being exposed studying overseas. Prior to that, he shared how his family and society have shaped him that most of his perspectives centred towards negativity. All that slowly changed after being sent to a boarding school in Australia at the age of 15. Rano gave his personal thoughts that sometimes being over optimistic may not be favourable. Just don’t over do it but it is better to get out of your comfort zone and who knows that your perspective will change.

Creative or Logical? If one person from the audience was handpicked for his/her creativity, many would have chosen TM Sumardy Hedus and of course, he was chosen to answer a straightforward question. His nature of profession requires creativity and his creative journey began when he turned 7 years old. At the present moment, he’s juggling his creativity and his future career and to find that right mix from creativity and logic. You’ll find that balance, Mardy.

Do you consider yourself a smart person? It’s never easy to put someone on the spotlight with this modest question. Even it was a tough question as Supatra Lee hinted, a visiting guest Chloe Lai answered with such finesse. She admitted that she’s not math smart person. If you like storytelling or goofing off or meeting new people, then Chloe will be the ideal one to hang out with and she will feel good about it. She also shared her interest on emotional intelligence,  earning herself the Best Table Topics ribbon. Welcome back to the meeting, Chloe.

One bad habit to let go. Perhaps the easiest question of the night if you are willing to share. Supatra chose another guest and TM Heidi Rahman’s colleague Hazman, a first time guest, accepted the invitation. Poised and composed, he revealed his recurring habit – procrastination  – in terms of completing his tasks at work and even during his examinations. A potential Brunei Speakers’ Club member, perhaps? Salute your courage as a guest to take the stage and express yourself.

Think, then act or vice-versa? In the beginning, TM Awfa  even paused for a few seconds (to think) in order to hint the audience that she thinks before speaking. As the final speaker, TM Awfa proclaimed that she’s a planner in relation to thinking. However, things haven’t been in her favour with travel plans being canceled in the eleventh hour. That spurred her to make unusual decisions and living the moment and worry about the consequences later. When she declared that “I ate prawns”, the audience laughed on the irony as she is allergic to prawn but as long as she’s a happy camper, that’s all that matters.

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Table Topics Evaluator. It was good to see TM Kelvin Lai being back in the game and he stuck to his objectives, focusing on body language such as gestures. He was impressed that all the speakers jumped straight in answering the questions. Many speakers were using their hands purposefully in their delivery. Opening your stance with your arms will show confidence while hand clasping will show signs of nervousness. It was great that there weren’t any pinpointing on specific members and guests as he shared a general feedback for the audience to take back. Once again, it was great to see you back in the game, Kelvin. Keep it up!

Ah Counter/Who Said What: When it comes to TM Mei-Ann, what can you expect? A sure guarantee that you will get an analytical feedback. She experimented a different approach by heading straight to “Who Said What?” section. However, her second segment on the Ah Counter role was pretty detailed that it went two minutes extra. Nonetheless, the speakers had something valuable to take back. Thank you, Mei-Ann, for your enthusiastic report.

General Evaluator: There’s always a first time for everything and TM Sandy Tan, a visiting member from OTTERS, took the opportunity to become the General Evaluator. She set the context to provide a physical and emotional approach in her evaluation towards the role players and speech evaluators. The physical part was handled well by Awfa, making sure they have comfortable chairs and delicious refreshments while the emotional part, Sandy, highlighted whenever the tone and words of the language used were assertive to the ears of the speakers. As Sandy quoted, this will help to eradicate harsh evaluations in pursue for excellence. She is a prime example of a leader.Keep up the awesome work!

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Guest comments: Shahril said that he benefited from the 2 hour session and was glad that he made the right choice, showing up to the meeting to gain some insights to improve his communication skills especially when it comes to interviews. Chloe, a familiar face as a guest, was in awe with Pooja as the TME, setting the energetic tone to the meeting while first time guest, Safwan, found the session entertaining and he was amazed with the speakers’ confidence. All the positive comments are testament to the quality and the professionalism of Brunei Speakers’ Club week in, week out.

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Allen’s crisp evaluation (and well honed time management skills) won him the Best Evaluator ribbon!

Closing remarks: Acting President TM Gerald Goh stood in for TM Jordan Yau and announced a few agendas and AOBs. In his closing remarks, he encouraged members of BSC to sign up for the humourous and speech evaluation contest. Just like creating a perfect concrete, it has to be strong, smooth and reflective with the elements of sand, water and cement. The same applies to being a distinguished toastmasters, you need to be participative, to evaluate and constantly learning. The Brunei Speakers’ Club will hold its Humourous Speech and Speech Evaluation Contest on the 13th of September at Seameo Voctech.


Written By:
Rano Iskandar, CC, CL

Photography By:
TM Aziman Nasir/Reuben Chin, ACS, ALB

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