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Archive for 03/11/2015


Making a difference

Written by Rano Iskandar. Posted in News, RA News


Conference in Bali 

I had a great time last week with my fellow toastmasters. The bond is different from before and it’s stronger. I may not look enthusiastic in this photo because I deliberately looked sad. I’m sandwiched by two dedicated toastmasters from UBD.

The organizing chairperson Shawn Cassidy Narcis and deputy organizing chair Liana Kwan for the District 87 Semi-Annual Conference. They and the team pulled off a great show. It was such a pity that not many locals turned up from the Indonesia division.

The conference is over. The goodbyes were tough but we as toastmasters know that it’s a never ending journey with conferences in different cities every now and then. I realised that it’s a pretty hefty investment if I were to calculate the number of conferences I attend (such as in Sabah, Labuan and cities of Indonesia) like the current one in Bali. Luckily for me, I never questioned it because I know the values that I can get out of toastmasters – priceless – and I’m pleased to officially announced that Brunei Darussalam will be hosting a big toastmasters conference slated for November 2016 and the planning has begun.

This is also one reason why I haven’t been active updating my blog. I still have tons of articles pending from my previous coverages in Brunei and also my recent Malaysia Tourism Hunt 2015 adventure. I shall be updating that pretty soon as I have so much ample now in Bali before my next workshop in Ubud, Bali in a few days’ time. For now, I’m gonna do some reviews of the recent Bali in Paradise conference 2015.

What a wunderbar experience!! The venue was ideal as we had both the convention and the accommodation at the same hotel (Harris Hotel & Residence on Sunset Road). I shared a suite room with four musketeers – Superman Amran, the computer geek Dalton, go-with-the-flow Jack and the actual Superman Nur Iskandar. If I were to travel again, I don’t mind tagging along with them or vice-versa. Just have to make sure that you don’t use the kitchen sink because Dalton will use his luggage to cover it *lol*

We had seven educational speakers and I enjoyed all of them except for one. I was amazed how thorough Dinesh’s speech on how to deliver a winning speech and it was analytical and clear. I have learnt that I lacked clarity in delivering my points in my speech and even getting the message across. Another speaker was Miranda (from Bali) who reminded me the power of listening and I’m still practicing that skill and breaking the bad habit. The International Director Patrick Oei showed me the courage to take leap of faith and don’t be the “Elephant being tied to a stick” because that one little step can make a difference.

Golden voice Ariff stole the show of the supposedly absent Guest of Honour and he shared the different types of personalities in us – I found out that I’m an extrovert with feelings and intuition *lol* I’m not sure that’s a suitable trait to guide me as the organizing chair for next year’s convention but it can be fruitful indeed because we already have an amazing team.

We are so honoured to have two finalists in World Public Speaking Championship and one of them is Mohammed Qahtani the current World Champion of Public Speaking 2015 (thank you, Lorraine for hooking him up with Shawn). He started with a slight sign of nervousness but he picked up the tempo and lifted the crowd with his enthusiastic energy. What was missing is the Qahtani (rubber) band that I wanted to have, to remind me should I have negative thoughts in my head. My room mate Amran was lucky to be given one. Well, the idea of the rubber band is to sport it on your wrist, and whenever you say something negative or have negative thoughts, then you snap the rubber band. This can be a good habit especially when you are about to give a negative comment and you snap the band and from there you start giving positive comments. Hopefully one day it will make me give automated positive statements.

Lastly, the speaker that I was looking forward to was Kwong Yue Yang who now resides and working in Australia. His “Fortune Cookie” speech is my most viewed contest speech because it’s originality, humour and the message he delivered. I highly recommend you watch that speech which I thought should have won that year in 2011. He had two sessions during the Bali conference and I learnt a thing or two on how to inject humour into your script and yes, humour is a skill. Let’s not forget that. It was good to see his girlfriend tagging along and apparently she is his mentor. Keep up the great synergy and I do hope you make again to the finals next year. He is a true inspiration for all toastmasters and such a humble guy in person. What more can you ask for?


World Champion of Public Speaking 2015 Mohammed Qahtani delivering his talk and he had the biggest cheer of the day

I admire Kwong Yue Yang, another competent speaker who believes that humour is a skill, not just talent. Very useful tips he shared with us.

I kinda enjoyed Dinesh Viswani’s deconstruction of a humourous speech. Very detailed, clear and leaves a lasting impression.

I was happy to introduce our speaker Miranda Suryadjaja from Bali and she shared her tips on listening (everyone’s weakness)

Kwan, Hazwan, Laurence and Amran chilling after a long Gala dinner but we all had fun behind the scenes. Thank you, Kwan and Laurence for helping out last weekend.

The contest.

Of course, we were rooting for our Division K representatives Kamaliah (humourous) and Aaron (evaluation). It was also the first time that I attended a District level convention for these particular categories. Both speakers were drawn to deliver first in their respective categories (Man, what are the chances?) and I would have to say that they set the standard for the rest of the competition. For those in toastmasters, District Level and Division Level are a different ball game. In order to get to District, you must win Division level first.

In the evaluation speech contest, our first international delegate Alicia Curtis for next year’s convention in Brunei, was the test speaker and she shared her journey with Abby, her dog. My prediction was spot on for the podium finish. Aaron did his very best and squeezed in 2nd runner up while Ricky from Medan had an awesome delivery but perhaps lacking in content and ended up 1st runner-up. The District Champion for evaluation belonged to Rebecca Chieng of Kuching and she deserved it with her crisp, clear-cut analysis on Alicia’s speech.

During the contest, I could see my neighbour Laurence Dumling who kept jotting down points on her phone as she herself was once a finalist in District but missed out this year as she came second in Division Level. She would have given a good run for the money should she had competed last weekend because I know she’s very capable when I first saw her evaluation last year and wow, I finally found my role model to learn more on delivery and be more discipline in training myself to be a great evaluator.

As for the main event (humourous contest), it left me wondering if I was actually witnessing an Area level contest or a District Contest. The finalists failed to live the expectations and I felt embarrassed that our invited guest Kwong had to  endure the agony of listening to all the low quality of speeches with a few exceptions. Of course, for me the top two speakers Rebecca Chieng and winner Kamalia were awesome when on stage. The rest of the contestants weren’t up to District Level and it’s just maybe …. just maybe one of those years that the other divisions struggled to bring the best out of their toastmasters journey.

Kamalia kicked off the show and it was a never-ending episodes of entertainment and laughters. She was the only one that had clapping ovations and in the end, she was rewarded with a standing moments from section of the audience. It was already an amazing beginning to the contest and I was already worried if the rest could maintained it. It was not to be and not meant to be either.

The second speaker literally killed my enthusiasm when he showed deliberate signs of stereotyping and it was simply too offensive to my liking. This is something the his Division should address to the matter. I could go on and on for the rest of the contestants but I shall not humiliate further (Ok, I just snap the rubber band on my wrist).


Seng Yee preparing for the Gala dinner. A big appreciation for her for helping with the registration from Brunei and all the way to Bali and also willing to help with the minor things to make the event go smoothly. A good team player.

Our champions in Division K and they excelled in District Level. Kamalia won in Humourous Contest while Aaron came 2nd runner up in Speech Evaluation. Rebecca Chieng from Kuching was the best performer for winning the Speech Evaluation and coming 2nd in Humourous.

Once again, our club managed to achieve President’s Distinguished Club for 2014-2015. Posing behind is our Immediate Past President Hazwan Kamarulzaman.

Shawn can really rock the crowd as he showed during the welcoming dinner at Harris Hotel’s garden area

The choo-choo train…

Shawn again…

and yes… Shawn again…

Kwong Yue Yang documenting the welcoming dinner

The Strongest Division.

So what I have learnt from this contest is that our Division K (Brunei, Sabah and Labuan) is pretty, pretty strong and I am proud of it because it’s also a testament on how Division K work so hard collectively as a unit from time to time. Reuben Chin has a been a great ambassador as our Division K Director and he has been flying in and out to visit different clubs in Sabah and maintain that strong bond within the Division.

New friends, newer bonds.

I believe that’s the intention – to foster and empower individuals and that can made possible through having special bonds between one another. I created new bonds with friends from Indonesia, Sabah and even from down under (Australia & New Zealand). These small gestures made a huge difference for a successful conference and not just attending educational sessions or witnessing the contests. It’s deeper than that and the reward will be much more fulfilling.

I’ve never received many business cards until last weekend. Well, I was pitching and encouraging toastmasters from different parts of the world to visit Brunei and be part of next’s convention in November 2016 which means I had to carry out a bit of homework and laying the foundation first. The responses have been quite encouraging and I truly hope that the event next year will be a blast because I believe the team can turn it into a memorable and magical moment.


Pranika never looked happier *inside joke*

An interesting welcoming dinner concept

All eyes on the World Champion of Public Speaking 2015

Sandy taking a photo pop with the Mohammed Qahtani

I’m impressed with Stuart Lee being the contest chair for the Humourous Contest and he’s also one of the sponsors for the event.

I had a great connection with my role model whom is an awesome speech evaluator. I will definitely see you and the gang when I visit Sabah next time.

It’s good to see Brunei Advanced Speakers’ Club receiving an award

Before the big Gala dinner, we all had Burger King. I forgot to pay you Hazwan or are you “belanja-ing” us? 😀

The theme for the Gala dinner was Red and Black. This is the powerpoint and media table for the slides and music. It may looked easy but it wasn’t. You really have to focus and be alert. Well done, Nina and Seng Yee.

Pranika was one of the most popular toastmaster because she was always being picked on *lol* Then again, she had the best seat in the educational session where she given the opportunity to see right in front of Mohammed Qahtani. Pranika also made an impact as many spoke highly of her during the convention. Definitely an asset to our Area K6 and also to the organizing committee for next year’s convention

My appreciations.

Before I end, I would like to give a big shout out to Shawn Narcis and his wing-person Ruey Narcis on the amazing job in making our journey to Bali possible and also taking care of us despite your busy schedules. To me, Shawn has been a great ambassador for toastmasters in our Division and also to the District. If I were to choose, he will be our Toastmaster of the Year. A shoutout also to Rozana Yunos who pulled off a great Gala Dinner and we even had impromptu emcees to ease Hawzan’s role during the award ceremony. A job well done also to Shawn’s co-organising chair Liana Kwan in making the convention in Bali a success.

Most of all, I would like to appreciate the Brunei toastmasters for making it this far to Bali. It does mean a lot when you travel all the way from Brunei to attend a conference. It’s the small things that matter and you all have make a difference. Hence, the tagline for my convention in Brunei is “Making a Difference”. I look forward for next year’s conference in Sandakan hopefully if my travel plans permit.

Thank you once again for a memorable and magical convention. If you be in those moment, you will truly enjoy and I did. Peace out 😀

Quote from Shawn for the Brunei toastmaster group: “I miss all of you. Now only since I am back in Brunei, thinking of how great the event went, without each and everyone of you, the success would never have happened. I would like to apologize if I did anything wrong to hurt any of you. If I did, I didn’t do it on purpose.”

“The experience, the journey and the learning are only because we all are toastmasters from one District. That is why what we do, what we say, helped the members in our District. We will surely be stronger (as members of toastmasters). We all have wanted to learn what is toastmasters and now you know what toastmasters have given you. They have given you a new family who is willing to support your growth. So again, from the bottom of my heart , I love you, my toastmaster family.”


Dalton was the young hero of the weekend. A little gesture but it means a lot to Datin and she treats Dalton as her grandson. Awwwww.. Good job, Dalton.

Nur Iskandar and Allen trying to hold their laughs during the humourous speech contest.

My photo opportunity with Kwong. Let’s hope your fortune is brighter in the next competition.

International Director Patrick Oei with the toastmasters delegates

Truly had a good time with the committee. Truly proud of what we achieved even though it was in a foreign land.

One of the toughest job and that is finance. Allen Ang is in charge and it’s never an easy task to carry out.




November 2015
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