Saturday, September 26, 2009

Speech Writing, Part 2

Transition Markers

Clear writing requires that communications to be understandable in a single rapid reading.

One way to ensure your writing meets this standard is to make your material coherent. That is, ensure your ideas flow together logically.

Coherence means more than just connecting your sentences mechanically. It means that the way your connect your ideas reflects the relationship between them. Words and phrases called transitional markers establish this relationship.

To make your writing effective, you must choose the transitional marker that reflects the relationship you want to establish. Listed below are words or phrases you can use to help you transit from one idea to another grouped by the relationship they establish between ideas.

You can use these transition markers within sentences, between sentences, and between paragraphs. The result will be that your reader will be able to follow your ideas as they flow from one to another.

To Show


again / also / and then /besides
/finally / first, second, third, etc. / further /equally important
/further / furthermore / in addition /last
/likewise / moreover / next /too

Cause and Effect

hence / consequently / accordingly / in short
/therefore / then / thus / truly


likewise / in a like manner / similarly


after all / although this may be true / I admit / even though
/naturally / at the same time / of course


after all / at the same time / and yet / although true
/but / on the other hand / for all that / in spite of
/still yet / in contrast nevertheless / notwithstanding
/however / on the contrary/

Time Relationships

after a short time / afterwards / as long as / as soon as / at last
/at length / at that time / before / earlier / at the same time
/immediately / lately / meanwhile / of late / in the meantime
/later presently / shortly / since / soon
/temporarily / thereafter / thereupon until / when / while

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kowloon-Singapore Toastmasters Club - 105th Chapter Meeting

Tonight, I have attended my club's 105th Chapter Meeting and commenced on my first Advanced Project 1 - The Briefing. The time was well-spent. In the words of our Club President, David, he shared with us his motto in the Toastmasters' Journey is "to join and enjoy".

The Education

My evaluator had been very encouraging and generous with his feedback. He was spot-on when he advised me not to have my nerve get the better of me. The topic which I presented was something which I knew at my fingertips. Yet, I felt uncomfortable without my script. One area of improvement was to personalising the topic. This technique would be useful to get the speaker closer to the audience.

On the Q&A portion, things that I had done well included repeating the question which allowed for other audience to listen to the question again. At the same time, it gave me some time to think about how to answer. One good way to answer a difficult answer was to use the following sentence structure "Yes, .... but ..." instead of challenging it head on.

Language Skills

The beautiful phrases which I have learnt tonight included:

- eyes gazing at
- anger turned into rage
- found many hands around her
- disillusioned and devastated
- disappointment and dissatifaction
- beautiful and hostile
- sober and serious

Thinking on Your Feet

I used to think that some people were naturally good speakers who could speak off the cuff. After I joined the Toastmasters Club, I realise that everyone can do that with practise. Starting from now, I will also be focusing on my speech evaluation skills and table topics.

I have done a silent evaluation on a speech entitled CPR which is on project 5 based on the technique using acronymn.

C - onfident, the speaker has spoken without using any notes.
P - oise. This was a Project 5 which was on body language. A story-telling mode instead of a narrative-mode will help to give more opportunity for the use of body language.
R - elating to the audience. The speaker told us that 7 minutes meant a lot to the person receiving the cardiopulmonary resuscitation. I will like to suggest the speaker linked to his speech - a 5 to 7 minute speech which can impart so much knowledge to the listeners.

Moving on to table topics. Below were a list of questions which our Table Topic master, Gary had used.

1. My family - For such a question, I could perhaps handle it with relation to the toastmasters family. In a club setting, our club president takes on the role of our father setting the direction for our club and our toastmasters journey. VP of education is like our mother who is the nurturing character, guiding us to do our projects. Finally, fellow toastmasters are our brothers and sisters - giving us support and encouragement when we do our projects.

2. The person I love most - have many persons whom I loved. Two years ago when I just learnt golf, I idolized Tiger Woods. He is the best golf player in the world. I love to watch him play. His eyes would be gazing over the fairway. His mind busily calibrating that perfect shot and like a skilled technician, he executed the perfect swing. He is simply fantastic. Then last year when Mr Obama campaigned for US Presidency. I was inspired by his speech, especially his slogan "Yes, we can." Encapsulated in these two great men were some of the qualities which I also see in my husband. Though he may not be a great golfer like Tiger Woods or a charismatic leader like Mr Obama, he always aims for the stars. And this is the man I love most.

3. My hobbies - sleep, eat and do nothing. Sleeping is very important as it allows our body to rest and get re-charged to face the new challenges that await us. Eating may sound easy but it is not easy to eat correctly. Many people do not eat, they swallow their food. The correct way to eat is to slowly mince the food in your mouth and savour the taste. This way, you will not need to eat so much. Finally, doing nothing is one effective way to relax our mind. Imagine if we keep stirring a pool of murky water, it will continue to be murky. Once a while, we need to let the mud settle down and clear water will emerge.

4. My career - From a very experienced toastmaster, Mr Bruno, I learnt the use of acronymn. C-areer in toastmasters, A-pplied the knowledge that we acquired, R-esources. E-ntertain the audience. E-ducate ourselves and R-ejoice.

Beyond Education

Besides language skills,I knew another great and inspirational athlete by the name of Julie Moss. I have always been enthralled by the sheer determination of athletes to break the shackles of limitation.

I have done a Google and this is one inspiring read.

Julie Moss

Do I need to give you another reason to join a Toastmasters Club? It is cost-effective, inexpensive and most important of all, it works wonders.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Speech Writing, Part 1

I have just attended a course on speech writing last Friday. The facilitator is as experienced in speech writing as he is generous with his sharing.

I find the 1-day course to be very useful in helping me both with speech writing as well as writing. Below are the notes which I have made so that I could refer to them as and when I need it.

Objectives of a Speech
1. Inspire thinking
2. Stir feelings
3. Motivate action
4. Provide information

I will like to suggest using the acronym "SAID" to remember the 4 objectives of a speech. S - tir feeling, A - action or call to action, I - nspire thinking, D - ata or information.

Qualities of a Good Speech
1. Easy to follow and understand
2. Achieve its objectives
3. Be memorable, if possible

Probably, a good acronym for the qualities will be
A - achieve its objectives,
B - e memorable
C - as easy to follow and understand as ABC

10 Steps in Drafting the Speech - The Process
1. Determine the message

2. Consider the audience

3. Think about the person making the speech

4. Collect information and organize it into about 5 points. Rank them.

5. Start with point 1, then 5, then 3, then 4 and finally 2. [For this step, the facilitator is trying to "ride the wave", with the momentum generated by the most important point 1 to weave in 5. The second most important point is deliberately placed at the end to capture the last wave of interest from the audience at the end of the speech.]

6. Link points with smoooth transitions. E.g. meanwhile, 1st, 2nd and 3rd

7. Write conclusion, then introduction [These two parts are the most important part of the speech. Because it is so important, it will be good to start with a standard opening first. Work on the body before one comes back to polish the opening and ending.]

8. Work on a sound bite. [A sound bite could be a short sentence - at most 2 lines, important and written in a nice and stylised way. It will refer to the text box or quotation that we see in the newspaper.]

9. Review conclusion and introduction

10. Have someone deliver it and assess how it flows. [I will like to suggest that we can also make use of tape recorder - we read and tape it down and review it ourselves.]

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Wild, Wild Wet

My boy's journal:

It was wild. It was wet. We were wowed by Wild, Wild Wet.

On a sweltering hot Saturday, my parents brought us to Singapore's famous water theme park, Wild, Wild Wet. I knew we were there when I spotted a giant Ferris wheel attached to a building.

Once there, my brother and I quickly dashed to the entrance and changed into our swimming trunks while my parents were trailing our fading backs. Our first stop was the water playground. This was not the usual run-out-of-mill payground. There was water sloshing around as we loved it.

Next, we enjoyed gazing at the passing clouds on our floats in the gliding river. Though our bottoms were on the float and our body curled up like a flower, it was actually a pretty comfortable position.

After a cool relaxing drift in the river, we went to another station. It felt as if the storm was brewing. The waves were big and strong. No, the weather was beautiful. It was just that we were at the wave pool. My brother loved the wave pool as he could fight the waves. We donned on the colourful life jackets before jumping into the pool.

We knew that it was time to bid goodbye to Wild, Wild Wet when he heard our tummies grumbling and rumbling. We headed to the nearby restaurant to have our dinner. It was really a very enjoyable day!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Improving Your Articulation

When I was young, I encountered difficulties in having a clear diction when I pronounced my words. It was only recently that I realised that it was a result of bad speech habits after reading the Toastmasters' handbook entitled "Your Speaking Voice".

A thin book, it is surprising thick in content. There are many aspects to our speaking voice. Just to name a few, the book teaches us methods for voice relaxation, breathing exercises to improve volume, extending and controlling your pitch, projecting your voice, improving your articulation and others.

I have decided to work on improving my articulation as a start.

The preliminaries:

1: Decide that you are going to be careful with your speech.

2: Open your mouth fully when you talk. Otherwise, it is akin to talking with your hand in front of your mouth.

3: Loosen lazy lips. Talk as if your lips are wrapping around your words as if each word were a tasty morsel.

4. Teach your tongue to keep its place. This is less difficult as the tongue usually acts without your conscious direction. But it it gets in the way, you must consciously make it respond to your demand.

5. Practice. Every time you speak, remind yourself to speak each word well.

Your speech muscles must be trained and exercise just as you would train your body's other muscles for athletic activity. The booklet gives a set of lip, tongue and jaw exercises to help one obtain the greatest possible flexibility.

If fellow toastmasters are interested, go and suss out this fabulous book. It comes with the Competent Communicator and Competent Leadership manuals when we first join the Toastmasters' Club.

Non-toastmasters who are interested to improve your public speaking skills, what are you waiting for? Go and check out the nearest Toastmasters' Club around. The club is one of the best organisation around and it is very cost-effective to improve your public speaking and leadership skills.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

This is Maths! Part 2

There are only three things you need to remember in order to prove a theory. I have not met a lecturer who told me this. Maybe they think that this is trival. But it never failed to draw a blank look from my school mates when I told them about my great discovery.

1st, proof by induction. E.g. the statement "I can only give birth to boys." For n=1, well, my first child is a boy. So the statement is true. Let's take any n. Assume n is true. I use n = 1, I next prove if n+1 is true. In my case, n+1=2, the statement is true. By induction, the statement is true for all n.

2nd, proof by contradiction. I remember the lightning sign or two opposite arrows, my lecturer will draw when this is done. This is the easiest proof. E.g. the statement "All lady bosses are mean." Now, if you can find a lady boss who is not mean. The statement is false.

3rd, proof by first principle. This is the most difficult to prove 'cos you need to prove for all cases. You try to build mini-statements that support the first statement. E.g. "Lady bosses are a mix of mean and nice people." You will first need to split lady bosses into several different baskets - something similar to market segmentation. Then for each basket, you prove either the basket is mean or nice.

Did I not tell you that I will make a good maths teacher? For pre-university level, I will teach my children that a number by itself has no meaning, unless you attach a meaning to it. At university level and beyond, logic tells but story sells.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Music and My Mother

My boy's journal:

I do not understand why my mother always insists that I continue to learn piano during the few occasions where I lost interest. Today, I know why.

My mother always wants to learn music. However, she was not able to do so as her parents were poor. At that time, Ah Gong and Ah Ma told my mother to study hard and reach for the stars. Education was the way out of poverty.

Nevertheless, she remains passionate about music. Twenty years ago, she brought a guitar using the money she earnt from giving tuition. The guitar was a second-hand one and cost a paltry sum of twenty dollars which must be a princely amount for my mother then. Today, the guitar still sits in our storeroom. Maybe, someday she will be able to play.

Now I understand why my mother is so happy when I and now, my brother indicates that we will want to learn piano. I realise that I am so fortunate. I will practise hard to make my mother proud.

Movie Premiere 9 on 9.09.09

My parents brought my brother and I to watch the movie premiere 9 on 9.09.09. Before the movie started, we had our dinner near Lido Cineplex. My brother who usually eats like a bird, ate like a pig this time. My favorite was chicken drumlets and I too stuffed myself silly.

The show "9" is a story which begins when the human world comes to an end. This is because an eminent scientist created super machines using his intellect, which destroy human world. The scientist then used his soul to create nine little creatures made of rice sack.

9 is one of the rice-sacked creature, who finds himself in a post apocalyptic world whre humans are extinct. He subsequently discovers a community of others like him taking refuge from the fearsome machines.

Despite being the neophyte of the group, 9 convinces the others that hiding will do them no good. They must take the offensive if they are to survice. Finally, they succeed to destroy the machines but lose five of their comrades.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

This is Maths! Part 1

I dunno why my mind always stray and wander.

Today, I want to clear the misconception about those who major in Mathematics.

Many people thought that those who major in Maths, are number crunchers. That is actually a misconception. Maths in university level is about logical thinking.

Eg. A is B's relative, B is C's relative so A is C's relative. [Recall: A => B, B => C then A=> C]

A dog has four legs. But a four-legged creature is not necessarily a dog. [Recall A => B doesn't necessarily mean B => A]

Gosh, I think I will make a damn good Maths teacher, ahem :P

Then I remembered my Maths professor once told me that in the past, mathematicans were employed by your majesty to entertain the king in an intellectual way. now, I know why my mind always stray - 'cos if I dun the king may slay me....

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Living Frugally in New York City

A short story on Living Frugally in New York City

The year was 2001. A twenty-some young man stepped out of the airplane at Newark International Airport. His black waxy hair was neatly styled to look preem and proper. Together with his new suit and black-kiwi business shoes, he was ready to step out to greet the street-smart businessmen and financial-savvy stockbrokers at one of the world's busiest financial hub - New York City.

Tim was sent on a 2-month work assignment to the city. This was one of the biggest breakthrough in his 5-year career with the company. Succeeding in this assignment would herald a bright and promising future for more years to come. Tim was determined to prove his mettle. He was also grateful to his supportive wife who shouldered the new responsibilities to take care of their newborn at home.

As he stepped out of the airport, the late-autumn chill air greeted Tim. His brown eyes were then treated the granduer sight of the gold, red and rust amongst the trees from afar. "Welcome to New York City." Tim mumbled to himself as he gripped tight the air ticket on his hand.

Tim hailed the yellow taxi to the financial district of the city. His eyes widened like a little boy when he saw suspending traffic lights. His heart would skip a beat whenever the taxi driver tried to overtake another car and he could feel a lump in his throat whenever another vehicle steered dangerously into the lane. Notwithstanding, he arrived to his hotel safe and sound except for his dishevelled hair.

As it was too earlier to check into the hotel room, Tim parked his belongings before going out to the nearby department, Macy to buy a decent-looking jacket to keep him warmth and see him through the business world in New York City which he was adamant. Tim did have a jacket for winter but it was too informal for such an important assignment. At least, getting a business jacket would provide him the much-needed armour to brave through the warfare of business, he reasoned.

When he returned to the hotel, he was ill-prepared for what was to come. While he earnt enough to qualify for a credit card, his little pay did not qualify him for a big credit line. He did not know that the hotel would hold a certain sum of his credit limit and would only release it upon checking-out. It was it, he had got a credit card which he could not use. He had no friends to turn to in this big city. Perhaps, a consolation would be that he did bring around cash - a meagre US $1,400 to see him through 2 months in one of the most expensive in the world!

Tim was used to hard life. A orphan at a young and creative age of 16, he would carefully apportion how he would spend S$300 each month on food and transport. Fortunately for him, he did not need to worry about accomodation as his parents' insurance covered the 3-room flat that they bought. This time round, he had the added experience of penny-pinching and stretching his money.

Breakfast was taken at the hotel's premise. A good intercontinential spread of roti was better than what he used to have. After a hearty breakfast with free-flow of coffee, Tim was energised and ready to head for work. Lunch was again in the hotel but in the room where Tim would pour hot water into his cup noodle. So much for his calories intake. Tim got his protein-fix in the evening where he would spend 40 minutes walking to-and-fro to Chinatown where he would take-away Chinese fried rice with egg and stock-up on his cup noodles.

Living frugally in New York City also shed new light for Tim who felt more like a native than a foreigner. The 40 minutes walking each evening, not only helped Tim to save some transportation cost, but also enriched him with the New York City experience. He knew every nook and corner in the city.

During the two months stay, Tim had also managed to spare some money to explore Vermont, hold a fat orange pumpkin in his arms, visit the Ben and Jerry ice-cream factory, and even bought souvenirs for his wife and their new-born.