Toastmaster of The Year Award

This speech will be delivered at Triple-Joint Christmas-Themed Meeting of MIM Toastmasters Club of Johor Bahru. Johor Jaya Toastmasters Club and Sacred Heart Toastmasters Club at 8 Days Boutique Hotel, Permas Jaya, Johor, tonight.

Advanced Manual: Special Occasion Speeches
Project 4: Presenting An Award

1. Present an award with dignity and grace.
2. Acknowledge the contributions of the recipient.

Time: 3 -4 minutes


Good evening, my fellow Toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen.

Every year, Johor Premier Toastmasters Club recognizes the one member whose work, dedication and enthusiasm has shined other members in the club and helped move our club forward. The selection process was not easy. With almost 30 dedicated and enthusiastic members in the club, identifying the one Toastmaster who is most deserving is difficult.

The selection process happened in the final club officers meeting last term. We listed members who have contributed to the club in many ways, achieved educational goals and inspired many club members to follow suit. The list includes contests winners, Distinguished Club point contributors, club officers and members who played roles in Toastmasters events beyond club level.

This Toastmasters was chosen because of several reasons. He was the Champion for the club International Speech Contest, Evaluation Contest and Table Topics Contest and the 1st Runner-Up for Humorous Speech Contest in term 2014/2015. He proceeded to represent the club to area level for the respective contests. He continued to bring up the club’s name to District level when he represented the Division in Table Topics Contest in the same term.

At the same time, he also worked enthusiastically and passionately for his speech projects and had contributed to the club’s Distinguished Club point when he achieved Competent Communicator status.

He had served the club as club officers for several term. His roles include Sergeant-At-Arms, Secretary and, in last term, Vice President of Membership. When he was the Vice President of Membership, he worked hard to ensure that the club submits the dues on time. He is also famous for making personal calls to members to listen to their needs and concerns as Toastmasters.

Other than that, he was the Organizing Chair for Area A4 Joint Installation Dinner and Johor Premier Toastmaster Club Guests Night. Both events were a success under his leadership.

I believe with his calm, charming and caring demeanor, he has shined inspirations to members of the club.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in honoring Johor Premier Toastmasters Club Toastmaster of The Year Award recipient for term 2014/2015, Vice President of Education, CC QJ Tan.


The Future of A Toastmasters Club

Advanced Project 5 from Speeches by Management manual
21 January 2014
Delivered at UTM Toastmasters Club meeting venue – C17, UTM JB


When this speech was delivered, only three people among the audience knew that it was not true – the Toastmaster of The Meeting (host), the President and the Area Governor.

For the record, there is no such rule as shutting down or merging clubs in Toastmasters. In fact, weak clubs are helped by coaches and district officers in many ways.

In short, the whole speech is a fib EXCEPT the first paragraph where I described how I feel about members of the club.

Fellow friends of UTM Toastmasters Club and visiting Toastmasters,

The members of this club are some of the amazing Toastmasters I’ve met in my three years as a member. You work hard. You’re so eager to learn. You’re inspiring me with your persistence. I’m so glad that I’ve become a part of you all these while even only as a regular visiting Toastmaster. Thus, to explain what I’m going to explain is a hard thing to do for me.

Do you know that there is a rule in Toastmasters International that states any club that has less than 10 members for three consecutive dues renewal terms will have to be merged with other Toastmasters club or shut down? That means if a club renews with less than 10 members every March for three years in a row, the club will have to find another club to be merged with or shut down. In your case, in March 2011, you renewed with 8 members, in March 2012, you renewed with 8 members, and in March 2013, you renewed with 9 members. Thus, TI will send the warning letter and they’ll probably shut the club down at the beginning of next term in July.

I see that there are three ways to overcome this situation. They do not totally solve the problem but they are better alternatives to the problem.

  1. You work very hard to achieve at least 1 more member by the end of March and send an appeal letter to Toastmasters International with a supporting letter by your Area Governor.
  2. Another way is to merge your club with UTM Aces Toastmasters Club or any other club. But I’d suggest UTM Aces since it is the closest to you. You’ll have to decide which club’s name remains and whether it’ll still be an in-house club or not.
  3. Or, the final alternative is to shut down the club, but before that transfer your members to other clubs nearby.

I believe you can understand now how crucial the next two months will be because you have to make this decision by the end of March. Why March? Because that’s the membership renewal deadline is 1st April. You have to find new members and send the appeal before the end of March or transfer your members to other club by then. If you don’t transfer your members, they will have to pay extra fee for reinstatement if they join other clubs after March.

Fellow friends of UTM Toastmasters Club,

Rejoice the fact that you had achieved so much all these years. In fact, you had done at least four things to contribute to your club’s Distinguished Club Goals: Dr. Zaleha achieved Competent Communicator, COT1, you submitted September dues on time and COT2. Celebrate these achievements despite this reality that affects your club’s future. I bid you all good luck in your Toastmasters journey in the future.

I received various feedback from the audience but one attracted my attention the most which said, “I foresee a great politician. Awesome. Good job.” I’m sure it was meant as compliment. But another way to look at it is it tells me that I’m a good liar. I feel a little bad.

I Love Johor Jaya Toastmasters Club

Project 4: Persuade to Inspire
Manual: Speeches by Management
Evaluator: Tea Hui Shyan
310th Regular Meeting (first meeting of 2014)

Let me begin with a question. “How much do you love Johor Jaya Toastmasters Club?’

My fellow Toastmasters and friends,

My next question is, “What is your personal goal as Toastmasters for the year 2014?” You don’t have to answer this out loud. Instead, put your hands on your cheeks, close your eyes and answer quietly to yourself. Now, put your hand on your heart and say it out loud, “I can do it.” Turn to a friend next to you and say, “I can do it. You can do it.”

Do you realize that all of your Toastmasters personal goals accumulated are the club’s goals, which we know as Distinguished Club Program (DCP)? You do not have to go all the way to contribute to the club. Just work for your personal goal and you’re actually helping the club to achieve the DCP plan.

I was not confident that this speech would be inspiring to the club members at first. I was nervous I felt I didn’t prepare enough. But it turned out well in the end – I was happy Hui Shyan evaluated my speech very well as a first timer and some members said my speech made them want to continue their projects. Four members volunteered to speak in next club meeting.

I Am A Rider

Advanced Project 4

Humorously Speaking Manual

25th September 2013

“5 more projects to Advance Communicator Bronze! Keep going!”

I have a secret. Many people thought I wear high heels because I feel elegant or they elevate my self confidence. But actually, I started wearing high heels because when I have to stop at traffic lights on my motorbike, only with high heels on, both my feet can properly touch the ground.

Good evening, fellow Toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen.

Most of the time when people call me while I’m riding, I don’t answer them. But sometimes, when I expect important calls, I do answer. But there are times when these calls that I answered turned out to be not-so-important calls. Usually, after stopping at roadside and realizing it’s a regular call from friend, this is what I do. It is almost like using a headset, just slightly bigger. “Ah hello hello! Can speak now.” “Ajan, why is it noisy?” “Oh, I’m on motorbike.” “On bike? Can speak now?” “1. You’re already speaking to me. 2. Don’t yell! I can hear you clearly.”

Imagine this scenario. I was happily singing while riding my bike one fine day. There’s a massive traffic jam about half kilometre ahead of me. Suddenly, a car came from behind me, went past just slightly next to me with high speed, nearly knocking me over, only to get in line and join the other cars in the traffic. I didn’t understand what happened. But I suspect he wanted to show off his turbo engine. I feel like stopping next to the driver’s seat, make him roll down the window and sing, “That don’t impress me much. Ah! Ah ah ah!” What did I do? I purposely changed lane to be next to his car and wave like a Miss World. Watch me go ahead of you, calmly, happily.

One of the things that I like to do on bike is singing. My karaoke talent comes from hours of practicing on motorbike. I can’t help it. When you wear helmet with full visor like this, it gives the stereo effect, like head phones. It’s a strong temptation. One day, I ride with my sister behind me. We stopped at a crossroad. I was happily singing until my sister slapped my back. “Aww! What?!” “Stop singing! That brother across the crossroad is staring at you.” The genre of the songs I sing usually depends on the traffic or weather. When it rains, it gives the mood of Hindustan video clips and I start singing Hindustan song. “Humko humise churalo.” When I’m doing 120kmph, fast beat and high notes songs usually comes to mind, like “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger” or rock song “I wanna heal, I wanna feel, what I thought was never real.”

Other than singing, believe it or not, most of my blog entries are written when I’m on the road. There is something about driving or riding that calms my nerves. And thus, helps with my flow of thoughts. Sometimes, when I’m desperate for ideas, I’d drive one or two rounds around the neighborhood to clear my mind. The problem comes when I started to focus on the flow of thoughts. There are many times when my mind was overflowed by ideas – Toastmasters, blog ideas, speech, a famous quote, something I forgot on my to-do list – and suddenly, I went pass the junction to my house. And the u-turn is about one kilometer ahead. By the way, that is 50 cent of petrol considering the petrol price hike last week.

One thing that I’d really like to do during rush hour is when I go pass the cars in between lanes, I feel like waving all of the drivers behind me like a Miss World. “Bye bye. Bye bye. I’ll go home first. See you at home.”

Do you know the fly over at Danga Bay which goes beyond the land above strait water? Every time I take that ramp, this is what I do, “Superman! Wuhuu…!” Sometimes I purposely choose that road to do that.

Fellow Toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen,

One day when I have a car, I won’t sell my motorbike. Too many good memories. For the time being, I’d just enjoy the moment with my boyfriend, JJN 2176. “Superman!”

Going Beyond Our Club

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The presentation Going Beyond Our Club is taken from Toastmasters International’s Successful Club Series. This presentation aims to educate Toastmasters of benefits in going beyond their clubs. To the speaker, it gives credit for achieving Advanced Leader Bronze as laid out in Toastmasters International Leadership Track.

This presentation was done on July 31st, 2013.

Seek To Understand Then To Be Understood

(I’m officially a Competent Communicator. Wow, what a journey after one year and 9 months. I still have a long way to go. This is the speech that marked the first flag in my long course of journey.)

Seek first to understand then to be understood.

My fellow Toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen,

I admit. These words, as beautiful as they may sound to ears, are easier said than done.

Let’s take a look at our manuals in page two. It’s written with ‘The Mission of Toastmasters International’. Now, let’s look at the second paragraph: ‘TI helps men and women learn the arts of speaking, listening and thinking’. If we look at Toastmasters club’s mission, it’s written somewhere in the middle: ‘to develop oral communication and leadership skills’. From my understanding, this means that listening is a very important part in oral communication and leadership skills. To be able to communicate effectively, we must be able to listen effectively.

Now, let us ponder. How many times have we started talking or giving opinions before the other persons finish their talks? How many times have we started to tell people our points when we should in fact listen and understand what others are trying to tell us? How many times have we judged people without first hearing their true story?

When I first joined Toastmasters, can anybody guess what my greatest fear was? I feared I won’t be able to survive the culture. I came from a town where majority of the population is Malay. I’ve been in two boarding schools – both all Malay. I have only one Chinese and one Indian friend for 17 years of my life until I went to UTM. Seriously. The first few months in Toastmasters, I was still considering quitting. Being in Toastmasters was definitely an out-of-comfort-zone experience for me, even without the projects, manuals and contests. I don’t know how to communicate my wants because I’m not sure whether you’ll understand. But I kept reminding myself, apart from ‘aal iz well’, I must seek first to understand then to be understood. I must first listen before I seek to be heard. So I listen carefully to conversations and people’s stories to get myself familiar with Toastmasters. After a few months, I’ve able to understand the culture by my listening activity. But this is listening in a simple view.

I think it is not exaggerating to say that good listening skills can contribute for a better mankind. How many of you have ever watched the movie Invictus? This movie records the amazing moments when Nelson Mandela was newly elected as the president of South Africa. The black people were protesting against the national rugby team, Springbrocks, because to them, the white people brought in rugby, so the Springbrocks symbolized apartheid. They want to replace the team with a brand new one, complete with a new name, a new color and a new emblem. But Mandela said, “We had prevailed against the Africana. All of us. But now the Africana is no longer our enemy. They are now our fellow South Africans, our partners in democracy and they treasure Springbrocks rugby. If we take that away, we lose them. We prove that we are what they fear we would be. We have to be better than that. We have to surprise them with compassion, restring and generosity.” Mandela’s splendid listening skill is impressive. To be able to do this after long years imprisoned by the same people who he was defending at that time requires high level of empathy. Empathy is the very essence of effective listening skills.

To be able to listen emphatically, we must be able to open up ourselves to be influenced. This is risky because it takes a great deal of security to go into deep listening. But this is the only way – in order to have influence on others, we must let ourselves be influenced by them. Let me tell you a story about my mother and I. Before that, let me state a fact. Even though I’m a girl, I don’t get most of woman emotion or behavior like why women love shopping, why do women need plenty of shoes and why can’t women decide on blue or red after a few hours. So my relationship with my mom didn’t go very smoothly. But, a few years back when I came across the popular book “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” I stumbled upon many ah-ha moments throughout my reading.

One day, my mother said, “You never helped me clean up the house.” Before that, when she said this, I could feel anger filling up my lungs but that time, I simply listened to her while she kept lamenting about her tiring day. After she finished, I gave her a hug and said, “Kesian mak”. She simply said, “Hmm…” and proceeding to tell me about some funny things happening at her office. Then I thought, “Aik? It was that simple. How can I not know about this before?” When I do this, my mother was influenced by my behavior, which I hugged her, but actually, before that, I was influenced by her stories. My point of view had been changed because I listen without judging her, without making assumption about her feelings. I saw her hardships differently than before.

One of the greatest experiences I had related to listening is a few years back. One day, my brother was down because of his exam results so he poured out his feelings to me. While he was talking, I kept saying “I understand. I understand.” Suddenly in the middle of talking, he couldn’t contain his emotion and said, “Stop saying ‘I understand. I understand.” No, you don’t understand. You were always the top scorer. You are good in curriculum. How can you understand me being a fail student? Do you understand the feeling of being disapproved by mom and dad? No, you don’t.” I was stunt and silent. He’s right. I don’t understand. I don’t even have the right to say I understand because that’s like belittling his feeling. But later, I realized, he’s correct that I don’t understand his feelings. But I do understand the feeling of trying so hard but not succeeding. I do understand the feeling of trying so hard to make people validate me. These are the actual feelings that I must relate when he told me his story. This incident has taught me a great lesson on empathy and listening.

My fellow Toastmasters,

If listening is easy, there won’t be any wars in the world. If listening is easy, divorce rates won’t keep increasing around the world. We are different. This is what makes listening skills a valuable commodity in a person and the essence of oral communication. The good news is we can all learn and improve our listening skills. Remember. Seek first to understand then to be understood.

Aini and I vs The Dog

(Project 5: Your Body Speaks, presented in Evaluation and Contest Judging Workshop at Sunway College as test speaker)

One of my great teachers taught me a good tip on how to stay enthusiastic and energetic throughout the day – always say good morning at all times in a day so you feel as fresh as you are in the morning. Therefore, Mr. Chairman and fellow Toastmasters, good morning!

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have very little experience with dogs. But among these little experiences, there are three most significant ones that I think I can never forget for the rest of my life. One is when I nearly fell of my bike when a cute and cuddly, white poodle came chasing at me from behind. First thing I remember I was singing happily while riding on my bike. Next thing I realized it’s next to my bike trying to grab my foot.

My second experience is when I was walking around in a neighborhood in Taman Universiti, Skudai. A big, black dog chased me until a Chinese aunty came out of her house and saved my life.

The third one is the one I’m going to share with all of you today because this incident has taught me a very valuable lesson.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This incident happened some when in 2003. At that time I was in form 5, studying in a boarding school. Back then, my roommate was my best friend. Her name is Aini. Aini as in ‘wo ai ni’. In Arabic, Aini means eyes. One afternoon, Aini and I with three of our friends were walking to our class for preparation study. It was around three o’clock. We were late, so there was no one left at our dormitory.

My school was built in 1980. So, there were a few old dormitory buildings that are not used anymore. At that time, there was a stray dog just giving birth to her puppies. There were a few cases where students were chased by the dog. I remember one of my classmates telling me, “I suspect the dog was suffering from post natal disorder”. I don’t know, though, whether dogs can suffer from post natal disorder just like human.

As my friends and I were walking, we talked quite loudly. I remember my three friends were walking in front while Aini and I followed from behind. Suddenly, there was “Gong gong gong!!!” a very loud barking sound echoing from the old dormitories area. After a few seconds, we can see the dog running towards us. Two of my friends in front had started running. But one of them grabbed their hands and said, “Don’t run. It’ll chase.” So they stop running. 50 meters! 40 30 20 10 2 meters! It stopped, but the barking didn’t stop.

What did I do? What did I do? Exactly nothing! My feet was glued to the ground and I was like “Is that a dog? Oh yeah! I’m pretty sure that is a dog. Why didn’t I run? Oh, am I supposed to?” I was too panicked. But Aini didn’t panic at all. You know what she did? She raised her bag like this, walked towards the dog and yelled out, “Aaaah!  Hah!” Surprisingly, the fierce dog ducked down and made the “hmm hmm” sound, clearly scared. Aini took a few more steps towards the dog, yelled again, “Huh huh huh!!!” and thumped her feet like that. This time, the dog was terrified and ran back to where it came from. All the time that happened, the rest of us just look at Aini like this.

After all that panic, we resumed our walk very quickly, afraid that in case the dog might turn back. Meanwhile I said to Aini, “God, I didn’t know you are that brave. Where did that courage coming from?” She simply smiled and winked at me.

Ladies and gentlemen,

That day this incident happened, Aini might not notice, but she had taught me a very important lesson, that is; do not assume, check the facts. You know why? It’s because later that day she told me, “Alah! We assume the dog was angry and fierce but in fact, we don’t understand dog’s language. She probably was just trying to say, ‘Please talk quietly. My puppies were sleeping and you are waking them up.’ Ha kan kan?” Remember! Don’t assume. Check the facts. Back to you, Mr. Chairman.