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D.D. Diary: The Candidate Interview

First Chinese Baptists Church in Fountain Valley
February 7, 2018

I had an interview for Division C Director position today. It went OK, but there were plenty of room for improvement. That is why I want to spend some time to put down the questions, my answers, and a better version of the answers that I later came up with, for my own reflection and improvement. Your feedback is also welcomed.

1. What is your most difficult personal problem that hinders you from being a successful division director and how would you overcome it?

My answer: As you may have realized, I am a second-language English speaker and sometimes I cannot explain my idea very clearly. My language has gotten much better a lot during the last 6 years I spent with Toastmasters, and, of course, it will improve even more in the future. Besides, I always want to learn how the system of Toastmasters work and how to serve my role better. I believe my effort will make up well for my weakness.

What I should have said: As you may have realized, I am a second-language English speaker and sometimes I cannot explain my idea very clearly. My language has gotten much better a lot during the last 6 years I spent with Toastmasters, and I will use myself as a lively example of house Toastmasters can transform the life of people like me and encourage them to step up, experience more, and make the most from the program, like I have been doing.

2. What do you think is the District’s problem and what are you going to do about it?
My answer: My answer was a wordy version of the one below.

What I should have said: Membership and Pathway. To be more precise, we do not have enough new members and our current members, including myself a few weeks ago, do not want to progress to Pathway. But after testing the water, I realized Pathway is not only a “career improvement program for Millennials”, it is also our traditional program with a different name and a slightly different order. I will urge our current members the change their mentality and get to know more about the program to refresh themselves and to be ready to help a new wave of younger members in the future.

3. I like your idea about Pathway, but how do you solve the District’s membership problems?

My answer: We lose the most club at the beginning of a new term, when area directors just take the office and are still figuring out what they have to do. So I will have my area directors learn about their clubs before they even start their term so they can be prepared. Besides, there is a program that I am currently promoting at my club called the Speaker Exchange. Smaller clubs, like mine, can offer a speaking opportunity to members from crowding clubs who cannot wait to their turn give speech in their home club. That will bring new ideas and create more activities at smaller clubs which will help to stabilize their membership base. When we stop losing clubs, the area directors will be able to focus more on founding new clubs.

4. How would you develop your area director?

My answer: First, I would pick them early and send them to the current area directors so they can have a first hand experience of their job. I will also connect them with experienced leaders, like all of you here, so they know who to seek for advice.

What I should have said: I could add a third point, “I will encourage them to take an active role above the area level and organize think tank events where they can share their own problems and contribute solutions for others’”

5. You were talking about connecting your area directors to the senior leaders, but how would you, yourself, help your area directors?

My answer: My answer was a wordy version of the one below.

What I should have said: I will sit down and set goals with them. I will make sure they have assistants to share the burden, I will remind them regularly about the progress and our target. When all fail, like fate occasionally do to us, I will step up, take it over, until I can find a replacement.

6. How do you use TI dashboard to improve your club?

My answer: Since I am no longer a district officer during the last two years, I no longer have access to many features provided by the dashboard and do not use it much. However, I do know the website provides a lot of helpful resources and they are under utilized by the majority of Toastmasters members. So, as a division director, I will organize educational events to make sure the club members are more familiar with the dashboard as well as the Pathway base camp.

What I should have said: When I was an area director, I spent a lot of time browsing the dashboard and play with its features. I found it was a great resource and regularly share what I thought was useful to the club officers in my area. Though the majority of Toastmasters I know rarely touch it, they will likely have more exposure to the new system, thanks to the Pathway program. All we need to do is to organize interactive educational events to facilitate it.

7. Do you have experience in mentoring or sponsoring a club? Or do you have any idea on how to start a new club?

My answer: Club mentoring and sponsoring is the last item in my Advanced Leadership Silver requirements and I am having a very hard time to get it done. But I do have an idea on how to start new clubs, inspired by what we are doing at my home club. We are Historically Speaking, a specialized club, and we almost forgot that fact. A few months ago, I spoke up and asked our club members to embrace some history into their speech. Since then, we had guests visiting our club and they were impressed by our historical topics. Some of them were returning Toastmasters and they liked it better than a general meeting. I strongly believe that specialized clubs will have a better chance to bring people together and keep them longer.

8. Regarding to your idea about specialized clubs, we have photography, we have wine tasting, what else should we have?

My answer: My answer was a wordy version of the one below.
What I should have said: There are hundreds of hobbies that can inspire a new club. Music, sport, traveling, etc. I am a fan of paintings and sculptures, if some of you share this interest, let’s get together and start a club. What are you strongly passionate about? We may start a Toastmasters club specialized on that topic too.

—-

Phew, that was a whole lot of impromptu speeches I had to make in 20 minutes. But it was such a rewarding and fruitful interview session. I have learned much more about myself, Toastmasters, and what I truly want to achieve here.

P.S., The District Officers Committee included Pan, Siri, Harry, Kathy, Randy, Norm, Frannie, and another person that I can no longer recall at the moment.

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D.D. Diary – The Call

From: Randy
To: DJ, HM, DB, KM, MC and 3 more…

Dec 11, 2017 at 2:44 PM

All,

Frannie told me yesterday that nobody has stepped up to apply to be next year’s Division C Director. Ali is this year’s Director, but there apparently is no successor for him at this point, and the District is looking for someone. Frannie asked me to pass around the word. Does any one of you have an interest? All of you are naturals for this position, given your experience and talents! If you are interested, I can give your name to the District. Later, probably around February, the District Nominating Committee will interview candidates (several positions have multiple candidates, but not the Division C Director position).

Thanks,

DJ responded first, saying:

I have done it already—hope one of you will “throw your hat in the ring!”

Then, CG said:

Randy,

I appreciate the offer and if I were mobile that may be a consideration but until I can get a driver’s license and pass a health exam the option is out of the question.

I would still consider mentoring a club remotely.

It does sound like the call for me, so I said:

Hi Randy,

Thanks for spreading the word. You can count me in.

Minh

And that is when the story begins.

Toastmaster speech #5 – Your body speaks: Table Topics, Speeches, and Evaluation

Toastmaster speech #5: Your Body Speak

Objectives: Use stance, movement, gestures, facial expressions and eye contact to express your message and acheive the speeches purpose”

Table Topics, Speeches, and Evaluation

How long does it for an ordinary Toastmasters meeting with Table Topics, speeches, and evaluation? One hour, one hour and a half, or two hours?

Good evening Mr. Toastmasters, fellow toastmasters, and our honored guests. As I always say, Toastmasters plays a very important role in my life. It helps me to improve my skills, to chase my dreams, to have a wonderful family. But on my trip to Vietnam last month, I had an unforgettable opportunity to practice a real life month-long Toastmasters meeting.

Just a day after my flight landed, I visited the Saigon Toastmasters, a 3-year-old friendly, energetic, and enthusiastic Toastmasters club which was only a block away from my house. I can only say they were extremely impressive!

At the first meeting I attended, there were about 50 people in the room, 2/3 of them were guests. The meeting was 3-hour long, with 6 speakers, 8 table topic speakers, and a 30-minute breaks so that everyone could get to know to each other. The club founders were all Vietnamese who had only heard about Toastmasters and then went abroad for a couple months just to learn about it and to bring it to Vietnam, with very little support from an only Toastmasters mentor.

By the end of the meeting, the club president who already knew that I am also a Toastmasters, suddenly asked me to gave an impromptu speech. Without any sign of nervousness, I grabbed the opportunity, got to the stage, share the story of how Toastmasters had changed my life, and encouraged all the guests to give it a chance to change theirs. After the closing, the room was quiet for a moment and then burst into applause.

I was so proud of that moment and became much more confident for my next challenge. As scheduled, two weeks later I flew to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. A couple days before the trip, I posted a message on my website, informing that I would be visiting some groups and give speeches.

Because I only stayed there for 4 days, I limited to only 4 groups. At first, I thought there would be about 20 to 40 people each group, and I would spend with each of the group about an hour or so. I completely underestimated the situation. My website was much more popular in Hanoi than it was in Saigon. The audiences there were so eager about my trip that they all booked me for 2 hours meetings with more than a hundred attendants each.

I hadn’t had so many chance to speak in front of that many of people. Thank God, Toastmasters really armed me with solid skills and my preparation did a lot of help. I did my job successfully, paid off the trip, and had a wonderful time with everyone. I felt like I was ready for my third challenge when I came back to Saigon.

However, I was not. Though I had done really well with some experience in table topics and prepared speeches, my third speech was not an evaluation. This time, I had to face a only one single woman whose power could freeze my body and erode my confidence easily.

At the moment, I was about to give my speech, I was scared to death. But then a little voice inside my mind said: “You are a Toastmasters, boy. You gonna make it, be strong, you gonna make it.” Then I took a deep breath, made eye contact, gave a big smile, rose my voice and started the opening of my one-sentence-speech.

“Would you be my girlfriend.”

The lady was silent for a while, and instead of giving me an answer, she asked: “Why do you want me to be your girlfriend?” “Ah ha! She is asking for an evaluation!” – I almost cried out.

I don’t think I have much time left now, so I won’t tell you what I said to her. But the morning after, she got back to me to say Yes.

Now, I can say this is the best trip ever. It brings me friends, success, and the woman of my life by a very special way, the way of Table Topics, Speeches, and Evaluation. The Toastmasters way!

Minh Le

Mid-20s (Toastmasters #4: How to say it)

What did you do when you were in your mid 20’s? At these ages, many people start to pursue the career they have been dreaming for years. Some get married with the person they are deeply in love with, and some other may decide to do something big, to change the world. I, in my mid-20’s, have a very important mission: Learn how to speak.

Mr. Toastmasters, fellow Toastmasters, and guests. Never did I think that I have to learn to speak.

My speaking ability appeared very early. I still remember the day I came home from kindergarten and grand dad asked me: “Hey Minh, what did you learn in school today?” “Hmmm, not much,” I replied, “Ms. Mai taught me only one thing: Shhhh, shhhhh, and shhhhh”

This talent is proven another time when Dad brought home a telephone. After 3 months, Mom had to call the carrier to stopped the service which already cost half of her salary.

But then 2 and 1/2 year ago, I started to reconsider about this, when I got to the LAX. It was the first time I visited such a huge international airport. I got quite confused and didn’t know where to go. So I asked an employee for direction. After 4 or 5 repeating, the man gave me a very detail instruction.

I followed exactly step by step. Instead of getting to the waiting area, where my family were waiting, I ended up on the street. Oh my goodness, getting lost in a cold weather at a strange place where nobody could understand what I say. Though I managed to find the way myself, after 30 minutes, the problem didn’t stop.

Many months later, I still couldn’t get along with my cousins or make new friends. I had very hard time explaining what I think, which made me feel like a retarded person. My life was screwed.

One year ago, I determined that it was time to learn how to speak and got out to look for a Toastmasters club. Right before my ice breakers speech, I couldn’t even speak a long sentence influently. But after a year listening, learning, and living in our very supportive family, I have become another person!

Now, I can give speech whenever I need, I know how to evaluate and encourage people, I get stronger not only in English but also in Vietnamese, my mother tongue language.

A couple weeks ago, I even recorded a speech for my website, motivate people to pursue big dreams. The video clip got a thousand views in just a week. A lot of audiences also asked me to make it more in the future. Though there are many things need to improve, I get back the confidence to speak.

Now I have a question for you. What did you do when you were in your late 20s? To me, a man who is going to step to my late 20s soon, I decide to speak my way to Distinguish Toastmasters!

Thank you.

Update: Just delivered. The speech got a Best Speaker of the Day award. So happy

Humorous speech contest: The Nature of Love

This is the script of my Toastmasters club humorous speech contest on September 10.

The Nature of Love

Good evening Mr. Toastmasters, fellow Toastmasters, and guest.

Do you know about “The Thinker”, a bronze and marble sculpture which illustrate a man sitting with a hand under his chin? And today million dollars question is: What is he thinking about and what does he sit on?

Let me tell you a secret, this wonderful sculpture was actually inspired by my famous theory, The Nature of Love. Look closer, you will realize two things. First, the man looks so blue because he is being dazed by the mysteries of love. Second, he is sitting on a toilette which convey a message about the relation between love and the restroom. And that’s what my theory about.

Think about this. Just like we do to the restroom, we all have a relentless demand for love. Some of us go for it many many times a day, while the others may hold for as longest as barely a week! But to healthy folks, once a day is the most popular and recommended schedule.

Because of this irresistable needs, most of us want at least one for our house. We are so reluctant to share it with our friends or neighbors. Not only for because of the hygiene matter, but also because of our unexpected urge to get fulfilled right away as well.

Moreover, we couldn’t help thinking about it many times a day, even when we are not at home. Staying long enough in a strange place, then we start looking for it. In my own experience, I would ask a waitress or a receptionist. But some people i know do pick whomever they see for this. It depends on the personality.

To mention about personality, it is fully expressed in the way we act in love, just as in restroom. And we’ll never really understand a person without considering about this.

Some of us are very serious and only walk-in when really need, while the others stop by casually and just for fun. That’s why love can be very easy-flowing to some and extremely solid to the others.

Some people are very shy, they make it secretly and silently; While the others love to be loudly with a lot of screaming and moaning. As the consequence, some end up with satisfaction shining on the faces, while the others suffered a lot by a long hurtful period with tears and blood.

This is such an easy way to find one’s style.

And due to this distinguish, people may have many different ways to conduct this process. And I have extract some rules from my own experience to help you avoid the mistakes and get the best from it.

Rule #1: It can be kind of troublesome if you thoughtlessly babble your own story to your friends. Some would be too curious, others may feel annoyed. But many of them may spread it to the whole world via Youtube or Facebook.

Rule #2: You’d better make it all by yourself. You may ask a friend’s help at your own risk. But it can lead to some unpredictably weird situation.

Rule #3: Always clean your hand and your personal part carefully, especially after doing it under the table, unless yo want to leave some obvious evidence about your bad.

Rule #4: Before you walk out, clean your mess so that the next person won’t be disturbed.

And the last rule: It is a natural process, so for the sake of God, don’t be forceful, aggressive, or abusive. What will be will be.

These rules really helped me, to go through my love without doubts and hurts. Since this moment, you can enjoy the most of your love as well as your restroom affair.

God bless the lovers. Thank you

Minh V. Le

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