Archive for June 2008

How To Tackle ‘Iron Man’ Table Topics?

June 30, 2008

‘Iron Man’ table topics have always been a special feature of my Club, The NUS Toastmasters Club. For as far as I can remember, I’ve been attempting it.

What’s so different about it? Well, the difficulty lies in that it is PURPOSELY designed to stun you in terms of being able to answer the question.

Purposely? You say? Yes. Intentionally, with scheme, a plan, a motive, the ultimate aim, objective and goal is to trip and make you stumble, fumble and mumble…

Cruel eh? That’s Iron man topics for you. You have to be an iron to not “suffer a cut”

“Why is the boxing ring square?”

“If the triangle is the most stable structure, then why are most things build in square?”

“Why do some animals like goat and cows eat the same grain, yet produce different waste?”

These were some of the ‘iron man’ topics given out two nights ago when I was coaching a group of young public speakers. The rest of the topics were, well, totally ruthless. The host had a creative mind. The gifts of an unadulterated youth,

And life does dish you with a wicked hand at times. That unfeeling interviewer might be the one, or the suspecting spouse may seek consolation, thus, the tough, unassuming ‘iron man’ topic emerges.

Best to be more prepared than be sorry for being tongue tied. Our mouths and oral communication abilities are for getting us out of trouble, not just for mere display.

Hence, here are the ways to tackle such Iron Man Topics:

1. Create a seemingly logical association based on your understanding of the terms in the topic

2. Keep pushing and extending the linkage as far as possible to find a plausible explanation for the topic.

3. Connect to what you are already familiar with in everyday lives and use your imagination to weave them together.

Up Your Impression, Up Your Chances

June 29, 2008

Whenever people look at you, they form an initial impression of you. While it may not be the real you, that’s how people tend to first judge you. Hence, if you are looking for a job by meeting with your prospective employer, impression becomes a critical element. It plays a vital role in determining if you land yourself a job or not. Nothing to be taken lightly, I must say.

When I conducted the training, “Up Your Image with Power Dressing” two days ago, I was determined to make it customizable and workable for the participants, who were the jobseekers. The suggestions for their attires were also meant to be low-cost yet high quality. I was glad they found the advice to be practical and applicable to aid their job seeking efforts.

In addition, the training also extended to involve ‘The Art of Impression Management’. After all, the attire, the mannerisms and the personal traits of yourself do create certain impression in people. These will immensely impact on your overall chances of getting a job or closing deals.

Here are the overall tips to add your impression appeal:

1. Determine beforehand what impression you intend to create. Understand your intention.

2. Study and know which impression works best for that job.

3. Understand how to be flexible to adjust your attire and behavior.

4. Seek real improvement in your personality, character quality and attire display.

5. Communicate your true values and benefits via your impression management skills.

It’s always an exciting process in crafting that suitable impression to up your chances.

Keep up improvement and you’ll definitely Excel Beyond Excellence!

3 Ways To Artfully Use Your Body Language in Your Speeches

June 28, 2008

It was two nights ago when we had the final lesson of the 4-session Speechcraft workshop for Telok Blangah Toastmasters Club. In this session, the key training and focus was on Body Language. I conducted an education presentation entitled, “Using Your Body Language in Speeches”. This was followed by a couple of Speechcrafters speaking on their graduation project that “Show What You Mean”.

It was definitely an extremely credible performance. The speeches indicated marked improvement over the sessions. The Speechcrafters also displayed their commitment towards becoming even better speakers. At the end of the whole Speechcraft training, all Speechcrafters wanted to join as Toastmasters.

To top off a most enriching session, here are some of the tips on I had shared on using your body language in speechmaking:

1. Avoid leaning on a single leg when you are speaking. It is a break of body symmetry and this stance of often gives the wrong messages of a lack of ‘grounding’ or respect for the audience. Balance your body weight, be it standing or walking around on stage.

2. Minimize the ‘stiff fingers syndrome’. It looks as if they are twigs or straight sticks when hand gestures are attempted to be used. Add an appearance of flow and flexibility to your fingers by curving the individual fingers at varying degrees.

3. Keep your body posture stable instead of displaying unnecessary swaying. Granted that this could be unconscious to you, but it comes forth clearly to the sharp-eyed audience, especially if you have the tall, slim and lanky type of body shape. Stability is what you want to show your audience. Stand firm on both feet when presenting your speech.

As the Speechcrafters move on to the regular Toastmasters Communication program, it’s always important to keep in mind and practice that they have learned over the past few weeks.

Consistent efforts working on the crafts of speech making will, over time, allow you to Excel Beyond Excellence!

5 Practical Tips To Make Your Emails Communicate And Relate More Effectively

June 26, 2008

Yesterday’s training was one of a slightly different nature. Instead of just training about human behavior and thinking, this workshop reflected on our behavior online, when writing our emails.

In this particular training, “Writing Effective Emails”, we focused on how emails can affect interpersonal relationships and using it to better create positive impact to your receiver, especially in terms of career and when looking for a job.

I was also pleased to know that the participants took effort to practice and word their emails to ensure their emails were of appropriate nature, both personal and professionally.

To add on, here are more tips to help you communicate with others more effectively via email:

1. Emails are usually not as distant or formal as a typical business letter. Lighten up on the big words and jargons.

2. Your tone and mannerism is toughest to convey through email, hence you must pay more attention to how they are worded. Ensure that the words you use reflect the tone that you truly intend.

3. Put yourself in the right mood before you type or reply your emails. The mood and mindset you are in is likely to have an impact of the way you write it.

4. When the information gets complicated, consider using paragraphs, bullet points, rich text formats and icons.

5. Keep the overall email readable. Remember, get your message across is the ultimate aim of your email.

Even when you are online and into writing emails, there is also a need to communicate better and relate more effectively.

If you are willing, there are always ways you can Excel Beyond Excellence!

The 3 Major Essential Focuses Of Your Coaching (Without Them, Your Coaching Effectiveness Will Be Drastically Diminished)

June 25, 2008

It was fully packed for training yesterday. Daytime was the conclusion of the 2-day training on “Coaching Skills for Leaders” for the leaders of a major government statutory board. At night, I made my way, rather, “rushed” to the National University of Singapore Toastmasters to conduct “Training for the Meeting Appointments”. That was very intensive as well with all the meeting roles training packed within that couple of hours.

During the training for the coach-leaders, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed what the leaders shared and the challenges they have highlighted in coaching. The result was a workshop peppered with funny anecdotes and witty comments, in addition to their acquisition of the deeper lessons behind what coaching really is.

And of course, it was also my pleasure and joy to answer one of the top commonly asked questions of how coaching might not work despite continuous coaching sessions.

The answer is, arguably, Focus, the focus of your coaching. Without the right focus of every session, you will not know if coaching has been worthwhile or has taken place effectively.

What sort of focus? You might ask.

Here are 3 of these major focuses of the coaching dynamics that are so essential for effectiveness to occur:

1. To move your client from a perspective of limitation to a perspective where there is variation. In this manner, “The Limitation versus Variation Perspectives and Paradigms of Coaching” becomes the broad-based focus during the flow of your coaching.

2. To get your client to have a worthwhile goal in mind and be willing to work towards it. If he has such a worthy end goal in mind, anything that happens along the way becomes merely a process of achieving his goals. Conversely, not having any end goal tend to turn almost everything into obstacles and distractions. Hence this format of coaching becomes a fundamental structure of “End-Goal Coaching”.

3. To get a clear indication of acknowledgement and approval before moving on along the coaching process. In one of the dynamics and techniques of “Signposting and Positive Progressive Indications”, your client must truly agree with you so that you can transit to the next coaching phase smoothly without hesitation. This is also a strong sign of progressive coaching effectiveness.

When you take time to pay attention to having these focuses present in your coaching, you will start to have a clearer indication of where the process of the client might be. With this understanding, you’ll definitely be in a better position to assist your client to Excel Beyond Excellence!

Has Joining The Toastmasters Movement Made A Difference In Your Life?

June 23, 2008

For today, I’ll feature a personal testimony by an active Toastmaster, Gerald Ong. I got to know him in one of the Club meetings some time back and he has been contributing articles to this blog since.

Do take time to read through his journey on becoming a better speaker. Then perhaps his sharing might inspire you to join Toastmasters and begin to improve your speaking and leadership skills.

(**For more information about Toastmasters International, please visit: www.toastmasters.org and for those living in Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau or Thailand, you may also visit: www.district80.org)

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Has joining the Toastmasters Movement made a difference in your life?

Yes, I would say that it had made a difference in my life.

Joining Toastmasters allowed me to communicate more openly with others and nurture my speaking skills to a higher level. This is where contests are held to accelerate my learning pace. One day, I would become one of the Top 3 winners at a club contest.

I was exploring about the Toastmasters in March 2006. I found out regarding Toastmasters through the Singapore Polytechnic Website. I was a student at Singapore Polytechnic and had considered joining Toastmasters ever since I graduated. I decided to drop by the meeting for a visit and was impressed with the club. However, I decided to venture elsewhere and ended up at New Millennium Advanced Toastmasters through my working contacts.

I began my Toastmasters journey with an excellent mentor. She was kind enough to meet up with me for breakfast and guided me along my first 3 projects. I did not have any problems attempting my projects as I was able to share on my favourite subject, which is about Wine.

After that, I managed to overcome the obstacle of my basic manual in quick time with clear explanation of the objectives and speech rehearsals. I learnt how to present speeches that can be persuasive and inspiring to others.

Toastmasters have also groomed me into becoming a better leader through Club Officers Training held twice during my term of office as Sergeant-At-Arms.

Next term, I will be taking up a more challenging role, Vice President (Education). This is due to the fact that I am better at coordinating people for meetings and assigning members to accelerate their projects at a comfortable pace. I faced setbacks from my members when I pushed them over their limits. After much discussion with them, I was able to maintain their desired pace and continue to give them regular practice in speech evaluations.

Upon completing my basic manual, I was able to inspire my members to catch up on their manuals and make a difference to them. I was also able to guide new members in completing their projects on schedule. Even if they are unable to meet, I am prepared for the worst case scenario and take up the challenge.

Toastmasters have made a difference to my life and will cherish the friendships I have made forever. These friends, working partners and buddies think in the same wavelength as me.

5 Important Marketing Principles For Building Your Customer Relationships

June 22, 2008

There are always new concepts and principles one can discover in marketing and relationship management. Whenever I conduct consultation for the different companies, I will help these companies to better integrate and apply these essential principles. The end result is always an increase in profits, sales and customer base.

Over the past 2 days in “Winning Customers with Relationship Marketing”, I had been sharing these important pointers with my participants from different companies. As prime drivers in the sales and marketing of their organizations, they are tasked with creating a stronger level of customer relationships and ultimately, improving sales results.

Hence, it will always pay dividends to take account of these principles:

1. Your customers ultimately judge you by how they feel about you and your products.

2. Trust and Likeability is the key factor in relationship marketing.

3. Regular contact allows your customers to remember you better.

4. It’s always an advantage to understand your customers first and relate to them differently, instead of a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

5. Your customers do want to have a relationship with you. Show them how they have it with everything to gain for themselves.

It is with conscious application and reviewing of your marketing strategy that you can increase your customer base. Seek to integrate them into your current business structure and focus.

May your organization and you Excel Beyond Excellence!