Friday, October 30, 2009

I was the Best Speaker in Oct 09!

It is said that practice, practice, practice is everything when it comes to delivering a good speech. In fact, this mantra is true for everything that one wants to exceed in.

After more than one and a half year of learning to speak well by doing, I am beginning to see some results of my hardwork. Notwithstanding that it is the process of learning that is the most important, the ribbon is like a pat on one's back.

And yes, the Toastmasters experience has made the learning process to be a better speaker and leader, such a wonderful one. The meeting has a special place in my heart. I am always raring to attend my club meeting as I know that I will enjoy good fellowship with other toastmasters, friends and guests who are all there to learn and give encouragement. Not only do I never fail to have a fun and fulfilling time, I always return home inspired to put in more time to prepare for my next speech, next role and to do even better the next time round.

Things I learnt in Oct 09's Meeting

In my Oct club meeting, I have also taken on the role of Toastmaster of the Day (TMD). The key role of TMD is to be the genial host and to provide a structure to the meeting. It is definitely not a walk in the park to be the chief control officer of the meeting. This is the format which I have followed in my last meeting:

- Greetings, it is indeed my pleasure and privileged to be the TMD.
- There are __ parts to our meeting. Part 1 comprises the opening speech by our Club President followed by the prepared speech section. There are __ speeches today. (Elaborate on who is doing what.) Thereafter, we will go for a short refreshment break. After the break, we will proceed to Part 2 which is the evaluation section. Followed by the Table topics section.
- Without further ado, let us put our hands together to welcome our Club President for the opening address.
- Thank you, Club President.
- Now, we will proceed to the prepared speech section. The first speaker is xxx. He or she is doing XXX, speech title. To request for the speech evaluator to read out the objectives of the speech. Thereafter explain the timing sequence.
- Move on to Part 2, 3. To use similar format.

Next time round, I will try to inject some humor when doing the transition. And that will call for some quick thinking on the feet. Fret not, I could polish up this skill by volunteering to speak at the Table Topics Section which I have done so this time round :) I could not have done it without the encouragement of fellow toastmasters.

Some beautiful phrases which I have picked up:
- full of oneself
- unnerving experience
- brutality of life that lent a vivid insight to ...
- nurturing the fighting spirit
- defacto leader
- DNA - Discipline and Attitude
- sharp ears, large eyes, meticulous mind
- a rattle and a click
- what ills my car has

Some table topics questions for thought:
- Power of love is ...
- My dreams are ...
- If I were the President of Singapore, I will ....
- Laughter is the best medicine. Do you agree?
- What is your favorite vacation.
- The side fo me, nobody knows.
- Time is like a river. [This is how ATMS/CL M Chandran tackled this topic. I only managed to jot down the key points but I liked it and thought that he has handled the topic very well. Here it goes:
Time is like a river which flows. So we should not dwell on our mistake. Instead, we should let the past die a natural death. Before time kills us, we must kill time. ... Actors in the stage of time as what Shakespeare once said."]

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Happy Tongue Twisting

Tongue Twisters are a great way to work on one's enunciation because they are so challenging to do. When we work on something hard, the easier stuff because so much easier!

First say them slowly. Second, increase the speed. Do so in an iterative manner increasing the speed until you can't keep up:

She sells seashells by the seashore.

The thirty three thieves thought that they thrilled the throne throughout Thursday.

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
A peck of pickled peppers did Peter Piper the pickled pepper picker pick.
If Peter Piper the pickled pepper picker picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where is the peck of pickled peppers that Peter Piper the pickled pepper picker picked?

Have fun!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Speech Writing, Part 3

Tips to Consider

Moving on, I have also learnt certain techniques to consider in speech writing. Some of them, I have used in my Toastmasters projects - in project 4 "How to Say it" of our Competent Communitor module - about words.

Many of the examples in the following tips are culled from John F Kennedy's Inauguration Speech, delivered on January 20, 1961.


1. Alliteration [e.g. as different as chalk and cheese, friend and foe, break the bond of mass misery. Readers will have noticed that I loved alliteration. In my previous post, I taught my boy to use "It was wild, it was wet. We were wowed by Wild, Wild Wet." This is a combinition of alliteration and set of three.]

2. Anecdotes [basically a short story.]

3. Antithesis [Opposition and contrast. It is a nice balance and play on words. E.g. "ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." "united, there is little we cannot do, divided, there is little we can do.]

4. Call to action [- usually it is position towards the end of a speech "Let us go forth" ]

5. Contrasts [light and darkness, symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning]

6. Conversation English

7. Definitions [ not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom. ... not because ... but because it is right/]

8. Humor with care

9. Quotations

10. Repetition

11. Rhetorical question [questions which you do not expect an answer. E.g. "Will you join in that historic effort?"]

12. Rounded-off figures

13. Short sentences

14. Set of three

15. Similes (similar in one way) and metaphors (similar in all aspects - more powerful than similes) (E.g. "Now the trumpet summons us again - not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need - not as a call to battle, though embattled we are - but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle..."]

16. Simple words

17. Sound bites [e.g."Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate."]

18. Statistics [use them sparringly]

19. Transitions

20. Vivid imagery [e.g. "that torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans..."


- Cliches (expressions that are no longer fresh. E.g. at this moment in time, without further ado, last but no least - just us "finally". We work 24/7, on that note) and platitudes (Sentences that say something that is true but people have heard it so many times. E.g. "Change is the only constant.")

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Lessons from Mount Everest, I

I was sieving through my piles of notes and I chanced upon a postcard size flyer from Everest Motivation Team Pte Ltd, I attended a seminar by its founder, David Lim, Chief Motivation Officer, Author, coach and mountaineer.

I found the materials in the postcard uplifting and useful. Tonight, I will like to share with my readers the lessons from Mount Everest - key skills and mindsets in succeeding in anything that you do.

1. Create Crystal Clear Outcomes:what can YOU do to create an exciting future reality that you can imagine, live and breathe right now in terms of your goals.

Having a goal in life is very importance. Yet how many of you dare say that you have one. I was drifting my life aimlessly until I read the book "Think and Grow Rich" by Napolean Hill. My dear readers, think hard today of what you want to be in life.

2. Find What You Need
In many cases YOU have all that you need in terms of determination and stamina to achieve if it is the right goal for you. For more complex tasks your best assets are the RIGHT people: Those with the five C's: Commitment, Competence, Compatibility, Communcations, and Courage.

While I agree with David that we all have what we need in terms of determination and stamina to achieve. The definition of the right goal here is rather fuzzy. I believe that one should know what is the driving force behind his or her ultimate goal in life. For me, my children are my driving force. My goal in life is intricately linked to proving to them that determination is the key to success. We can achieve great dreams as long as we put our heart and soul into it. For readers who are animafans, Naruto is my hero. He represents the type of person whom I aspire to be. He is who he is today because of the hardwork and his sheer refusal to give up.

3. Failure is Never Final
Instead, failure gives lessons to succeed more convincingly the next time.

I will like to add that failure is never final as long as we keep on trying.


I will share with you more in part 2 of this blogpost. For now, think of what is your ultimate goal in life.

The Heavier the Responsibilities, The More Unreal It Feels

You must have experienced this feeling before. Work is piling fast. The children's examination are round the corner. There is so much to do but so little time. Yet instead of trying to make the best out of the situation, you feel that it is akin to clucking around like a headless chicken. There is a strange sense of beguiling calm. In your head, the background music of "whatever will be, will be" was playing.

I felt this strange sensation a few days ago. I just wanted to drift through what was going to unfold. In a bid to beat pressure, I made friend with escapee. Escapee was cruel and yet so tempting. It was cruel because it was it lured us into not taking action and hence led to the self-fulfilling prophecy. And it was tempting to not try and believe that things were beyond our control. Not to add that it was also theraptic to put the blame on anyone else except ourself.

Before the denial turned demented, I yanked myself back from the abyss of inertia. I sat down and planned my leave, charted out my work and delegated certain work functions. I was glad that the knowledge that I gained from my postgraduate program, voluminous reading, writing and my toastmasters' training come in handy at this crucial moment.

Of course, I wished that there weren't so much responsibilities. Yet, I took comfort in the fact that I was doing the best I could to balance both work and family. It was at such trying time that the thought of having a maid crossed my mind. But by so doing, one day I would also have outsourced not just the cleaning, but also the love and care of my children. I also needed to be good role model for my two boys.

The love for my children drowned out the song of "whatever will be, will be". Instead, the wise words of Lance Armstrong took its place. His words "Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever." is now resonating in my head.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Phonics and Perservance

Two years passed since I started coaching my younger boy phonics. It was tough to juggle a full-time job and family. It was time-consuming as I needed to do the cooking, the bulk of the housework and ferrying of the two children. Most of all, it was tiring - both physically and mentally.

At first, my boy was keen to learn or rather to try his hands on the computer. Later, the daily session became once a week. Once a week gradually turned once a month and then no more. I was tempted to seek external help. Which I did but the progress was slow and painful.

A few weeks ago, I decided to try again. I started from ground zero. I decided that a shorter but regular session will reinforce the sound and concepts that my boy will pick up.

I re-strategised the approach. The same approach which I used on my elder boy did not work with my younger one as they were so different. My elder boy is quiet but imaginative. He could visualise what I tell him. My younger boy learns better through movement. I need to act out to interest him.

This is just week one of my second attempt. To offer a glimpse of what I teach, the following sounds are taught over a period of five days. Each time over a period of about 15 minutes.

Day 1: Introduce the sound "S" and "EE". Teach the children to listen carefully.
Day 2: Introduce the sound "V" and "AN". Again a listening lesson.
Day 3: Time for the child to practise saying and blending the sounds.
Day 4: Revision time. Make flash cards for this purpose
Day 5: Again revision time. Make the lesson fun by using story and drawing.