Review on Toastmasters Project 8: My Love Affair

I did my Toastmasters Project 8 on the 17th March 2017. I felt better about this presentation than I was on Project 7. It seems that I will have to focus more on the introduction and conclusion to ensure that I start and end with a BANG! I will need to learn how to be more creative to use visual aids and maybe add a bit of humor.

The evaluator graded me based on the following:

  1. What was mentioned?: Love affair with Netflix. Three props were used to support her message
  2. What was memorable?: Use of language using rheotorical devices. Using natural humor in words and irony
  3. What was mendable?: Improve on usage of props to exemplify your message. Props that can be used througout the speech.Use of props in a stronger conclusion to deliver your message.

What could the speaker have done differently to make the speech more effective?

  • Use or choose one or two props that could exemplify your message to make it more memorable rather than one off event

What did you like about the speech?

  • Link the props back to the key message during your conclusion
  • Fun topic
  • Good use of language and humor
  • Audience enjoyed your speech

Pathways: Dynamic Leadership 1: Evaluation & Feedback: How travelling shapes and transforms you

Happy New Year, my friends, fellow toastmasters and guests! It’s that time of the year again, where we all recover from vacations. Criteo, a performance marketing company, reported that Singaporeans took an average of 5.2 trips in the past 12 months. That translates to an average of one trip every two months. Despite the frequent travel, do we really know the real value of traveling? Or are we just traveling because we need time off, and hence we make plans to travel ?

Ever since I decided to start traveling solo, since about four years ago, I have learnt countless lessons. For a start, traveling exposes you to various communications styles. I am not talking about verbal communications but all forms of communications as well. I have been in Germany where I had to practice my German and made a cuckoo out of myself.

Thankfully, the locals were patient enough as I had to juggle between my dictionary and maps. That’s the good thing about spontaneous traveling, you get to focus on select ideas and also be flexible enough to change according to the various circumstances or factors. In this case, time, weather and personal interests. I can’t be visiting all 16 states in Germany in two weeks, so I decided to focus on the Bavarian region with priority given to nature.

In my humble opinion, travelling makes one modest. Humble in a sense, you have to remain curious and ask questions of people who may understand or know the city better than you do. In my recent trip, I took a train from Munich to Salzburg and made new local friends along the way. I asked for recommendations for local attractions. As I am such an avid trekker, I was urged to trek an untouched mountain 30 minutes away from the city centre.

I was told it was an easy walk. When I got to the destination, I was all alone, and the whole forest felt like mine. The land was really untouched. I was trekking all on my own till I met a local person along the way, when I was almost reaching the top. So yes, I trekked on my own by accident. But that aside, I don’t just gain freedom, but also new friendships plus knowledge about the city, Salzburg without the need of a tour guide! Am I lucky or what?

Living out of a suitcase, is worth the time and money. Traveling opens up the wonders of our world. I love the idea of how traveling connects us with culture. When in Australia, people go crazy over beef steak, animal sanctuaries. In Europe, we go crazy over cheese, how they solve socio economic problems and most importantly, chocolates. In Asia, we talk about exquisite food with their strong flavours.

What we don’t realize is, how traveling to explore far places actually brings us closer to who we really are. When we are born, we don’t have any social perceptions or stereotypes. We accept everything by heart. Then there are social actors such as families, schools, environments and governments that dictate our perception of life. But they forgot that we all have personalities and identities. For instance, we are proud Singaporeans. We are proud of our chilli crab, skyscrapers and strict regulations. Germans are proud of their beer. The French are always saying their country is better than any other in Europe.

It is only when we step into their country, that we put ourselves in their shoes, we start to see how close we actually are and how we share the same joys about similar things in life. We cannot change our nationality or languages. But we can always open our eyes and minds to understand the various historical, geographical, social and cultural effects of their different lifestyle practices.

Thomas Paine travelled and said “my country is my world, and my religion is to do good”. 1400 years ago, Muhammad said “Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled”.

My dear friends, I have travelled, you have travelled. Travel has inspired me to know countries, culture, languages and build communities. Most importantly, to do what I can to make a difference. In Germany, I was impressed at how the country does their best in terms of recycling. I try to recycle my things much more often than I used to before. In other words, it has helped me to become a better citizen of this planet and hopefully a better person when you reconnect with yourself. And I hope it can do the same for you.

Thank you.

How to speak eloquently

One of my personal goals this month is to work on personal branding. I will be reaching out to friends who are successful in their own right and people I see as mentors to guide me as I work towards being a better person. For this article, I will be writing tips which I find useful and action plans that I will performing to speak better and improve my arguments.

Tip 1: Practice Enunciation and Pronunciation

Many of you are not aware that I am currently learning German. One of the things that I struggle with (Not the gender) but getting the pronunciation right. The advice that I received from my German teacher is to practice speaking daily. Don’t be afraid to open your mouth wide in order to improve your enunciation.

Now, I dedicate 15 minutes daily to either speak in front of the mirror or listen to podcast and read the manuscript.

Tip 2: Avoid Swearing

This is a no brainer, but I still hear people cursing in professionally settings. Reserve your ‘venting out’ to after work and mind your manners outside.

Tip 3: Choose your words wisely

A continuation from point 2. I usually pinch the fleshy area between my thumb and index finger when I am nervous or when someone is getting on my nerves.

When you speak, ensure people can understand you speak simply so others are not intimated by you. When needed, improve your arguments. When you can do this, you are making others included and people will not find you unapproachable and showing off.

I find that listening to audiobooks, and watching Tedtalks or other shows seem to improve the way I communicate. Hopefully they are useful for you too.

Tip 4: Speak without filters

Filters are words we use between words. They may not necessary be bad although my mentors at Toastmasters will disagree. I don’t deny that good speeches don’t use filters. However, filters are often used when people are struggling with what to say or rather they are thinking of what to say next.

An easy way to avoid this is to speak slowly. Form the sentence in your head before saying it. For German, I have to write it down first before saying it. I’m far from perfect in this aspect. Filters usually occur between thoughts and when the sentence changes. So instead of saying “umm” or “like” just pause…and continue with your story.

Let me know if you have other tips.

Tip 5: Control your volume

We need to control our indoor and outdoor voices. Be considerate when you speak and avoid turning heads. They are often soft spoken and often times the person listening to them needs to lean in a bit to hear more about them. Never boasts and never yells.

Tip 6: Speaking with kindness and grace

Elevate the success of others and be humble with yours. They know their manners: they know when to speak, when to listen, and when to interrupt. The goal is to sound pleasant with your words and make sure others feel enlightened, not unimpressed after speaking to you.

Be kind to others at all times. Know when to keep your silence. You can be honest and strong, but not rude.