Yvonne giving a keynote speech at HUO9

I gave a keynote speech at the ninth cycle of the Hear Us Out conference two Saturdays ago on 3rd November 2012. Above is a photo of me speaking on stage while my boyfriend a.k.a transcriber waited below during the question and answer session.

Shortly before I began to speak, we realized that my PowerPoint file was not saved into the thumb-drive I brought. It was my first time experiencing this hiccup, but I have read about this scenario before in a 3-credit hour Public Speaking course, so I remained calm and adapted.

Speaking purely from memory and going with the flow was not much of a problem to me, as I have started off as a public speaker that way. It was only until much later that I added PowerPoint presentation to my talks.

Speaking without using a PowerPoint file as a guide and reminder proved to be a good exercise for my mind. One of the most important key to good public speaking is keeping time and not over speak, so I had to focus extra hard on the flow of my message to avoid veering out of topic. To minimize the risk of rambling, I pruned my message mentally, cutting out the frills and unimportant bits as I went.

Giving a keynote speech for the whole conference itself felt different from giving a talk as one of the conference’s programs. Probably because I bore in mind that what I said set the tone for the rest of the conference, like an ambassador. This conference’s theme was Be The Change, so I kept the students’ future in my heart and mind. I emphasized a different side of my story, touching lightly on my healthcare and focused on where I was going, where I have went and where I will soon be going. Standing on stage and speaking in a Lecture Hall felt different from speaking in a classroom too. As a keynote speaker, I felt more confident to directly motivate and nudge the audience to pursue what they love and do it wholeheartedly. Because, when they do that, they’ll be making a difference to their immediate environment even before they know it. That’s how I came to where I am today. It all started very simply.

The important thing isn’t in creating a fancy campaign that catches public attention. The key is to be focused, consistent and passionate about what you set your heart in. Heart4Hope is actually an incarnation of my childhood ambition to assist humanity. It started with a vague desire in my heart. I didn’t know how I would do it, but that’s what I wanted to do. I kept that desire in my heart as I went through life facing one adversity after another. Knowing what I wanted to do with my life became the basis of all my decision-makings. That’s how Heart4Hope came into shape when I was most desperate for survival. That’s how The Celebration of Life foundation came into shape on the drawing board too.

Do you want to be the change? I believe you know what to do now.


Yvonne Foong

As a child, Yvonne Foong dreamed of growing up to help others. To achieve her ambition, she began studying to become a psychologist. But things changed when tumours were discovered in her body at the age of sixteen. She was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type 2 -- a genetic illness with no cure. Fighting for survival, Yvonne turned to fundraising and embarked on a medical odyssey to the United States. Her experiences since then have transformed her into a motivational speaker; inspiring hope, faith and strength. Yvonne is currently working to establish a humanitarian foundation that provides NF patients in Malaysia with financial and logistical support. Visit Works of Gratitude to learn more.

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