The meeting began with our youngest member of the club, TM Dalton Lim beginning the session as Sergeant-at-Arms (SAA). He warmed up the meeting giving information about four toastmasters clubs that are in operation in Brunei and their meeting schedules. He proudly informed that that there are 1,45,000 Toastmasters’ memberships across 15,900 clubs worldwide. He then took us through the mission of the club that reminds us that we are here to support each other in our public speaking journey. It was great to know the guests (some repeat) as they introduced themselves.
TM Dalton then passed over the floor to the Toastmaster of the Evening, Awfa Nawawi. Drawing on the contests spirit in Brunei and especially in District 87 of Toastmasters, she aptly organised her thought of the day saying that life is a competition. She was quick to add that actually we are competing with ourselves as we progress through Toastmaster’s journey. It was a busy Tuesday for her. She enquired with the audience if it was for them too! She then introduced office bearers for that meeting who in turn enlightened the audience regarding their roles and how they are going to perform those roles. TM Nabil Kadir as Table Topics Master (TTM) spoke about the benefits of table topics and explained how participation in them can help in job related situations. It was a delight to notice TM Supatra serving as Table Topics Evaluator (TTE), adding a new criterion in her evaluations, which was stage presence. The Grammarian (GR) CC Hilman Omar decided to focus on intent, clarity, and audibility in his grammarian evaluation. The word of the day, ‘Duck soup’, which introduced is an interesting word which means easy to do or accomplish. CC, CL Farhan Jafar Ali in his clear voice informed about his role as ah counter and who said what and eased the audience saying that his questions on who said what will be duck soup for the audience to respond to. TM Syatrah Roslan’s tip was good reminder of the importance of preparation as she put it, “Not to prepare is the greatest of crime; to be prepared is greatest of virtues.” She further demonstrated her role as the timer by drawing our attention to the colours light as an indication of time for the benefit of speakers and evaluators. DTM Shawn Cassidy Narcis graciously filled in for the role of General Evaluator. He announced that his job is to see meeting runs well and give feedback to the team of evaluators.
It was interesting day for prepared speeches as two speakers; TM Mardi Hedus and TM Maudena Hamid were presenting their Competent Communicator third (CC3) projects. The evaluators stood together and took turns(in order to avoid repetitions, as both were evaluating the same projects) to tell us what they are expecting from the speakers. The first speaker TM Mardi spoke on how to become a performer. He grabbed our attention with a song from the theatre. He then told us how the performing arts changed lives of two of his troubled teenage students who were from broken families. It is a life skill. The Performing Arts, he considers Toastmaster’s also one of them, can impart necessary education and skills in three ways. 1. By instilling confidence 2. Developing creativity and 3. Developing team spirit and leadership. He left us a message that Performing Art can help us at home, at work and in all walks of life.
According to his Evaluator; ACS, ALB, Rueben, TM Mardi was high on energy, had a great structure in his speech and reached 7 out of the 8 objectives given in the manual. He admired Mardi on the use of personal anecdote, body language, purpose of the speech, introduction; however felt that Mardi moved too quickly out of the body of the speech. Rueben was quick to draw upon part of Mardi’s speech asking him to let go of his use of notes. “You learn the script, you learn confidence.”
The second speaker; TM Maudena finally revealed her secret why she was absent from Toastmaster’s weekly meetings since Hari Raya, as she took us through her newly founded interest in physical exercises. She had twisted her ankle and had to use crutches. Looking to get well after a diagnosis, she fell into despair when it started taking long. It was heartening to hear her tell us about learning from a physically challenged person. Her story told us three things about living in the context of an injury: 1. Embrace and accept 2. Patience and 3. Safety.
TM Macalister, TM Maudena’s speech evaluator, began on a mischievous note. “When you do not exercise!” He analysed her speech as serving specific purpose, organised clear opening and good built up. He did not find her nervous. However, he found the speech somewhat lacking in clear general purpose and felt that the introduction went on too long.
After a 10 minute break, it was time for table topics. TM Nabil brought the table topics themed around title of songs. First to volunteer was TM Kelvin speaking impromptu on “It’s my life”. It was his favourite song as a child. He spoke about lyrics telling him to take charge of his life whenever low points in life appeared. Next one to participate was guest Ziana on “Let it go.” The song bothered her as her 3 year old daughter was getting hooked to it. Her daughter is now hooked on another viral song “Pen and Pineapple” Nice twist it was! TM Rahul lived the spirit of the song “I will survive” as he narrated his trekking experience which took 8 hours longer to reach the location short of food. Hafizah, first time guest at Brunei Toastmasters’ Club, is currently taking a break from her undergraduate studies and trying her hand at few things such as Arts and Crafts. Her story was so apt to the song title she received, “Try everything.” On “Shake it off” returning guest Sufarul mentioned how such attitude is a useful one when one encounters high stress in jobs. He also used the word of the day saying that life is not a duck soup to emphasis the work related stress. Another returning guest Hazman echoed what Surfullah mentioned while talking on his table topic “Love yourself”. If you hate yourself, then it is like giving up on life so love yourself. It was first time for TM Heidi Rahman to volunteer as a table topic speaker. She mentioned about how to beat it situations in family, with subordinates, and in office. She is also teaching her shy daughter how to beat her shyness by exposing her to different situations. Heidi story of her daughter on “Beat it” stole our hearts as we all rallied for her for the best table topics ribbon.
TM Supatra Lee began her evaluations of table topics speakers by assigning each of them a character. TM Kelvin was a performer as he used his fingers a lot (body language) during his role. Ziana was a story teller, loud and clear, even in front of strangers. TM Rahul earned himself a survivor title from Supatra, and later a philosopher as he had professed to be human in case of adversity. Hafizah was an explorer. Supatra commended on her calm voice and gestures. Sufarul was a quick thinker and got complimented on his good eye contacts with the audience. Supatra guessed that he might be a supervisor in his work place as he had habit of putting his hands in his pocket. It turned out to be a good guess! Hazman was a fighter, as his voice was more powerful this time than last time when he had volunteered as a speaker in previous Toastmasters’ meetings. The TTE showed that she also remembers people very well! TM Heidi was inspirer and enthusiastic. TTE noted that Heidi stood on one side of the table and asked her to work on that.
CC Hilman in the cap of a grammarian noted the use of word of the day by speakers. He also pointed on incorrect pronunciation and on correct use of English words; for example, think safely should be think safety. He commended the TTE on interesting uses of characters in her evaluations. He made audience aware of the simile used by Ruben: “Speech is like a pencil”. An interesting visualization by Macalister that top was big, meat was small and bottom is flat was also commended. Hilman also elaborated on a concept “white noise” as used by TM Kelvin in his table topic speech.
CC, CL Farhan counted ah, umms of all of the speakers, and mentioned that Rahul and Kelvin had none. He posed some interesting questions to test our listening skills: “What’s the benefit of not using legs?”, “Who should shake it out?”, “Where was Mardi’s introduction song from?”, “Who said to remain human?”
Timer TM Syatrah reported on each of speakers and evaluators time taken, and suggested to cut back filler words those who went above the time limit.
DTM Shawn donning the cap of GE took hold of the evaluation session saying here is where learning begins. He mentioned that he had never heard the word of the day before and advised the grammarian to take up simpler words as workers in work place many not understand the word if he happens to use it. He liked the old method of counting ah and umms in a speech and found it enjoyable. He asked Syatrah to slow down while reporting as she had ample time left after reporting. According to him the TTE had a difficult job in terms of time limit as there were 7 table topics speakers in this meeting. He found our speech evaluators in a contrast role. Reuben was energetic and Macalister had tough time matching with Rueben’s energy as both of them took turns while briefing about their expectations to the prepared speech speakers. He did not forget to mention that Macalister used a sandwich method of evaluation and observed that Mac spoke very fast. While evaluating Reuben, he said it was a theatre show recalling how Rueben threw his paper of evaluations to show cases how to get rid of notes. Overall though it was a small group, it was a fantastic meeting where each one present had a role to play.
Finally it was time to hear Area evaluation winner CC, CL, Pooja Shivanand talk about her winning trophy. She was full of gratitude towards members who texted her best wishes and members who went with her to Kota Kinabalu, and her mentor and her husband who supported her throughout the journey. She said she had to bring the trophy back to the club since the club had presented her with so many evaluation winning ribbons earlier. These ribbons had given her confidence to perform. Her advice to others was to take part in contests and evaluation comes very close to teaching as far as Toastmasters is concerned.
As we all looked at the trophy, we noted that it was 6th out of 12 times the Brunei Toastmasters’ have brought it home! A proud moment for all of us!
Written By: TM Suneeta Pathak
Photography By: Rano Iskandar, CC, CL