Limiting Beliefs


In 1519, Hernan Cortes landed at Vera Cruz on the Mexican Gulf. He was the commander of a party of Spanish conquistadors. He had 600 men, 17 horses, 13 muskets and 10 artillery pieces. He boldly set out to conquer the mighty Aztec empire. 

The Aztec army outnumbered the Spaniards 1,000 to one. It could have annihilated the invaders. It could have cut off their escape. It could have isolated and starved the enemy to surrender.

But the Aztec emperor Montezuma convinced himself that Henan Cortes was the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl.



Because the Spaniards had arrived in waterborne houses with white wings, they have magic fire that burst from tubes to kill at a distance, and their leaders ride on strange beasts.

And Aztec legend has it that the party of the god Quetzalcoatl would come to break up the Aztec empire.

The Aztec army waited in the hills. The signal to attack was never called. Believing himself doomed, believing resistance would be futile, and believing the enemy could not be defeated the emperor Montezuma submitted.

The Spaniards put the Aztec emperor in chains, they burned their captives alive, they smashed the alters of the Aztec gods, they exacted an immense tribute in gold and jewels and they ruled the Aztecs for the next 300 years.

Today, 484 years later, many of us are still shackled by our limiting beliefs.

We tell ourselves that we could not succeed, that we could not attend club meetings, and that we could not do our project speeches.

Today we break the chains that bind our wings.

Call your vice president education. 
Book a slot to do your next project speech.

Do it now.


Why are we called Toastmasters?

I was recruiting freshmen to join Toastmasters during the NUS matriculation fair. When some freshmen walked past our booth, they saw our banner with the word “Toastmasters Club” and punned, “Toast Masters? Is it a club where you learn to toast bread?” 

I’m sure you all know full well that our founder, Dr. Raplh Smedley, chose to name this wonderful organisation “Toastmasters” because we, as public speakers, are tasked to propose toasts to the audience during important functions. But does the word “Toastmasters” have anything to do with toasting bread?

The answer is YES. Let me trace the fons et origo of the word “Toast”

In ancient time, the Romans toast their bread in a fire. When the breads become too hard to chew, they would soak the bread in wine to soften it. The idea was expanded, in the late 17th century, when someone decided to drink to the health of a lady, whose name was felt to have spiced the drink like the pieces of spiced toasts that were placed in wine. 

Of course today, the word toastmasters is synomymous with a person who is learning or practicing public speaking. 

Reference. An article written by Toastmaster Audrey Lim from NUS Toastmasters Club

Origin of the word “Toast”. From The NEW OXFORD Dictionary of English.

Article submitted by mathew

Evaluation of U.S. President George Bush’s speech by a Toastmaster

The following evaluation is taken from : Toastmasters International’s website

Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. January 29, 2003 – Toastmasters International’s former President, Alfred Herzing, of Yorba Linda, California, says President Bush’s State of the Union Speech was more effective in the second half, where he spoke about Saddam Hussein’s threat to the world, than in the first part, where he outlined his domestic policies.

“He kept a good, measured pace throughout the speech,” Herzing said, “but he became more animated in the second half. From a Toastmaster’s standpoint, I’d liked to see more gestures and vocal variety reinforce his message, and a stronger conclusion to summarize his key points.”

The key to the public speaking training offered by Toastmasters International is the evaluation segment, whereby all speakers are critiqued by a fellow member according to the “sandwich approach:” a few suggestions for improvement wrapped in twice as much positive feedback. The nonprofit organization aims to teach the mechanics of effective speech delivery; it does not advocate a particular political or religious point of view.

On a positive note, Herzing gave Bush credit for an overall powerful presentation, credibly and confidently delivered without resorting to “John Wayne mannerisms.” Herzing said Bush used “the power of repetition” to emphasize key points — especially toward the end when listing Iraq’s alleged defiance of weapons treaties. “He repeated the lines, ‘He has not accounted for that material. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed it’ at the end of five paragraphs,” Herzing noted. “He also used short, crisp sentences and specific information to elaborate on numbers: ‘I will send you a budget that increases discretionary spending by 4 percent next year, about as much as the average family’s income in expected to grow.'”

Herzing comments on the effectiveness of phrases such as “Nobody was ever cured by a frivolous lawsuit;” “The course of this nation does not depend on the decisions of others;” or “One mentor, one person, can change a life forever, and I urge you to be that one person.”

He also thought it was effective for Bush to reach out to the Iraqi people by saying, “Your enemy is not surrounding your country; your enemy is ruling your country.”

Of course, if President Bush were to join a Toastmasters club, he’d be encouraged to stop flipping through his notes, and instead slide them more subtly from left to right, While members of Toastmasters clubs are taught not to read their speeches, Herzing concedes that President Bush’s hour-long, widely televised speech calls for the use of notes, “in case the TelePrompTer fails.”

You can read President Bush’s script from this website.

Interview with Mathew Lim, TRL TMC Table Topics Champion – Jan 2003

On 25 Jan 2003, the in-house speech contest of Tampines Regional Library Toastmaster Club concluded with a young champion for table topics. Speaking on the subject “the journey is more important than the destination”, Mathew Lim, a relatively new member of the club has impressed the audience with his vigor and quick thinking, surpassing other veteran speakers to walk away with the champion trophy. He will be representing the Tampines Regional Library Toastmasters Club to take part in our Area S2 contest, which is scheduled to take place in Braddell Height CC.

Being assigned to write an article on the table topic champ, I arranged a telephone interview with Mathew in the evening on 30 January and the followings are what I have learnt from him:

David : What do you think of your performance during the contest?

Mathew: I am naturally satisfied…, very satisfied with my performance. I surprised myself to win the first place. In fact, winning has never been in my mind. I just try out for the experience.

David: In your opinion, what are the main factors for your winning?

Mathew: [On practices] I think the main factor is that I make the effort to try out the table topic at every toastmaster meetings that I attend, be it the Tampines Regional Library, NUS or other clubs. This gives me ample of opportunities to practice. In fact, about 4 days before the TRL contest, I participated in another table topic contest held by NUS. I performed poorly, stopping mid of the speech. This leads me to think about how to make my speech better. I studied the judging criteria for table topic contest, and realize that I should have spent more time to think before I begin my speech since the evaluation only starts with the first gesture or communication with the audience.

[On luck] Luck is also a factor for my success. The topic for the speech happens to suit me and I am able to expand on it. This is important as topics that relate to what we have learnt elsewhere will be relatively easier to talk about.

David: Other than the regular practices, do you have other preparation before the contests?

Mathew: I do not have any special preparation before the [table topic] contest, other than trying to attend toastmaster meetings weekly.

David: How did the contests benefit you as a speaker?

Mathew: They have benefited me by giving me the opportunity to learn to handle competition stress. Successfully completing the speeches have also boosted my confidence to speak in other occasions.

David: Do you feel nervous when you give the speech?

Mathew: Certainly. The first 30 seconds are always nervous. After that, my thoughts become more focus on speech delivery and lose the nervousness.

David: Do you have any advice for future contestants in table topics?

Mathew: Try to spend enough time to think before you start your speech. Practice more on table topics and you should be able to think faster as you speak. In table topics, practice is the only way to improve.



The interview may be short, lasting not more than 30 minutes, but I am much impressed by Mathew’s account on how he achieved success in speech. Speech excellence can be achieved through diligent practices and making fearless attempts, repeatedly, despite failure or success. These are qualities that all of us can possess if we choose. With Mathew’s die-hard attitude to keep trying, I believe, it is only a matter of time before he becomes a great impromptu speaker.

Keep up the good work, Mathew! We will give you our sincere support in the Area S2 contest.



David Kow

How to Write Right

Writing is an essential skill upon which all engineers and managers rely. This article outlines simple design principles for engineering’s predominate product: paper.

“Sex, romance, thrills, burlesque, satire, bass … most enjoyable”.

“Here is everything one expects from this author but thricefold and three times as entertaining as anything he has written before”. 

“A wonderful tissue of outrageous coincidences and correspondences, teasing elevations of suspense and delayed climaxes”. 

(reviews of Small World by David Lodge)


This has nothing to do with engineering writing. No engineering report will ever get such reviews. The most significant point about engineering writing is that it is totally different from the writing most people were taught – and if you do not recognize and understand this difference, then your engineering writing will always miss the mark. However, this article outlines a methodical approach to writing which will enable anyone to produce great works of engineering literature. 

Why Worry? 

Writing is the major means of communication within an organisation; paper is thought to be the major product of professional engineers; some estimate that up to 30% of work-time is engaged in written communication. Thus it is absolutely vital for you as a Professional Engineer to actively develop the skill of writing; not only because of the time involved in writing, but also because your project’s success may depend upon it. Indeed, since so much of the communication between you and more senior management occurs in writing, your whole career may depend upon its quality. 

Two Roles 

In an industrial context, writing has two major roles:

  • it clarifies – for both writer and reader
  • it conveys information


It is this deliberate, dual aim which should form the focus for all your writing activity.

There are many uses for paper within an organization; some are inefficient – but the power of paper must not be ignored because of that. In relation to a project, do*****entation provides a means to clarify and explain on-going development, and to plan the next stages. Memoranda are a simple mechanism for suggestions, instructions, and general organisation. The minutes of a meeting form a permanent and definitive record.

Writing is a central part of any design activity. Quality is improved since writing an explanation of the design, forces the designer to consider and explore it fully. For instance, the simple procedure of insisting upon written test-plans forces the designer to address the issue. Designs which work just “because they do” will fail later; designs whose operation is explained in writing may also fail, but the repair will be far quicker since the (do*****ented) design is understood.

If you are having trouble expressing an idea, write it down; you (and possibly others) will then understand it. It may take you a long time to explain something “off the cuff”, but if you have explained it first to yourself by writing it down – the reader can study your logic not just once but repeatedly, and the information is efficiently conveyed. 
Forget the Past

Professional writing has very little to do with the composition and literature learnt at school: the objectives are different, the audience has different needs, and the rewards in engineering can be far greater. As engineers, we write for very distinct and restricted purposes, which are best achieved through simplicity.

English at school has two distinct foci: the analysis and appreciation of the great works of literature, and the display of knowledge. It is all a question of aim. A novel entertains. It forces the reader to want to know: what happens next. On the other hand, an engineering report is primarily designed to convey information. The engineer’s job is helped if the report is interesting; but time is short and the sooner the meat of the do*****ent is reached, the better. The novel would start: “The dog grew ill from howling so …”; the engineer’s report would start (and probably end): “The butler killed Sir John with a twelve inch carving knife”.

In school we are taught to display knowledge. The more information and argument, the more marks. In industry, it is totally different. Here the wise engineer must extract only the significant information and support it with only the minimum-necessary argument. The expertise is used to filter the information and so to remove inessential noise. The engineer as expert provides the answers to problems, not an exposition of past and present knowledge: we use our knowledge to focus upon the important points. 

For the Future 

When you approach any do*****ent, follow this simple procedure:

  1. Establish the AIM
  2. Consider the READER
  3. Devise the STRUCTURE
  4. DRAFT the text
  5. EDIT and REVISE


That is it. For the rest of this article, we will expand upon these points and explain some techniques to make the do*****ent effective and efficient – but these five stages (all of them) are what you need to remember. 

You start with your aim. Every do*****ent must have a single aim – a specific, specified reason for being written. If you can not think of one, do something useful instead; if you can not decide what the do*****ent should achieve, it will not achieve it.

Once you have established your aim, you must then decide what information is necessary in achieving that aim. The reader wants to find the outcome of your thoughts: apply your expertise to the available information, pick out the very-few facts which are relevant, and state them precisely and concisely. 

The Reader 

A do*****ent tells somebody something. As the writer, you have to decide what to tell and how best to tell it to the particular audience; you must consider the reader.

There are three considerations:

  • What they already know affects what you can leave out.
  • What they need to know determines what you include.
  • What they want to know suggests the order and emphasis of your writing.


For instance, in a products proposal, marketing will want to see the products differentiation and niche in the market place; finance will be interested in projected development costs, profit margins and risk analysis; and R&D will want the technical details of the design. To be most effective, you may need to produce three different reports for the three different audiences.

The key point, however, is that writing is about conveying information – conveying; that means it has to get there. Your writing must be right for the reader, or it will lost on its journey; you must focus upon enabling the reader’s access to the information. 

Writing is very powerful – and for this reason, it can be exploited in engineering. The power comes from its potential as an efficient and effective means of communication; the power is derived from order and clarity. Structure is used to present the information so that it is more accessible to the reader.

In all comes down to the problem of the short attention span. You have to provide the information in small manageable chunks, and to use the structure of the do*****ent to maintain the context. As engineers, this is easy since we are used to performing hierarchical decomposition of designs – and the same procedure can be applied to writing a do*****ent.

While still considering the aim and the reader, the do*****ent is broken down into distinct sections which can be written (and read) separately. These sections are then each further decomposed into subsections (and sub-subsections) until you arrive at simple, small units of information – which are expressed as a paragraph, or a diagram.

Every paragraph in your do*****ent should justify itself; it should serve a purpose, or be removed. A paragraph should convey a single idea. There should be a statement of that key idea and (possibly) some of the following:

  • a development of the idea
  • an explanation or analogy
  • an illustration
  • support with evidence
  • contextual links to reinforce the structure


As engineers, though, you are allowed to avoid words entirely in places; diagrams are often much better than written text. Whole reports can be written with them almost exclusively and you should always consider using one in preference to a paragraph. Not only do diagrams convey some information more effectively, but often they assist in the analysis and interpretation of the data. For instance, a pie chart gives a quicker comparison than a list of numbers; a simple bar chart is far more intelligible than the numbers it represents. The only problem with diagrams is the writer often places less effort in their design than their information-content merits – and so some is lost or obscure. They must be given due care: add informative labels and titles, highlight any key entries, remove unnecessary information. 

Draft, Revise and Edit

When you have decided what to say, to whom you are saying it, and how to structure it; say it – and then check it for clarity and effectiveness. The time spent doing this will be far less than the time wasted by other people struggling with the do*****ent otherwise.

The following are a few points to consider as you wield the red pen over your newly created opus. 

The main difference between written and verbal communication is that the reader can choose and re-read the various sections, whereas the listener receives information in the sequence determined by the speaker. Layout should be used to make the structure plain, and so more effective: it acts as a guide to the reader.

Suppose you have three main points to make; do not hide them within simple text – make them obvious. Make it so that the reader’s eye jumps straight to them on the page. For instance, the key to effective layout is to use:

  • informative titles
  • white space
  • variety


Another way to make a point obvious is to use a different font


People in business do not have the time to marvel at your florid turn off phrase or incessant illiteration. They want to know what the do*****ent is about and (possibly) what it says; there is no real interest in style, except for ease of access.

In some articles a summary can be obtained by reading the first sentence of each paragraph. The remainder of each paragraph is simply an expansion upon, or explanation of, the initial sentence. In other writing, the topic is given first in a summary form, and then successively repeated with greater detail each time. This is the pyramid structure favoured by newspapers.

A really short and simple do*****ent is bound to be read. This has lead to the “memo culture” in which every communication is condensed to one side of A4. Longer do*****ents need to justify themselves to their readers’ attention. 

The Beginning

Let us imagine the reader. Let us call her Ms X.

Ms X has a lot to do today: she has a meeting tomorrow morning with the regional VP, a call to make to the German design office, several letters to dictate concerning safety regulations, and this months process-data has failed to reach her. She is busy and distracted. You have possibly 20 seconds for your do*****ent to justify itself to her. If by then it has not explained itself and convinced her that she needs to read it – Ms X will tackle something else. If Ms X is a good manager, she will insist on a rewrite; if not, the do*****ent may never be read. action).

Thus the beginning of your do*****ent is crucial. It must be obvious to the reader at once what the do*****ent is about, and why it should be read. You need to catch the readers attention but with greater subtlety than this article; few engineering reports can begin with the word sex.

Unlike a novel, the engineering do*****ent must not contain “teasing elevations of suspense”. Take your “aim”, and either state it or achieve it by the end of the first paragraph.

For instance, if you have been evaluating a new software package for possible purchase then your reports might begin: “Having evaluated the McBlair Design Suite, I recommend that …”. 


Punctuation is used to clarify meaning and to highlight structure. It can also remove ambiguity: a cross section of customers can be rendered less frightening simply by adding a hyphen (a cross-section of customers).

Engineers tend not to punctuate – which deprives us of this simple tool. Despite what some remember from school, punctuation has simple rules which lead to elegance and easy interpretation. If you want a summary of punctuation, try The Concise Oxford Dictionary (1990); and if you want a full treatise, complete with worked examples (of varying degrees of skill), read You Have A Point There by Eric Partridge.

For now, let us look at two uses of two punctuation marks. If you do not habitually use these already, add them to your repertoire by deliberately looking for opportunities in your next piece of writing.

The two most common uses of the Colon are:

1) To introduce a list which explains, or provides the information promised in, the previous clause.

    A manager needs two planning tools: prescience and a prayer.

2) To separate main clauses where the second is a step forward from the first: statement to example, statement to explanation, cause to effect, introduction to main point.

    To err is human: we use computers.

The two most common uses of the Semicolon are:

1) to unite sentences that are closely associated, complementary or parallel:

    Writing is a skill; one must practise to improve a skill. 

    Engineers engineer; accountants account for the cost.

2) to act as a stronger comma, either for emphasis or to establish a hierarchy

    The report was a masterpiece; of deception and false promises. 

    The teams were Tom, Dick and Harry; and Mandy, Martha and Mary.


For some, spelling is a constant problem. In the last analysis, incorrect speling distracts the reader and detracts from the authority of the author. Computer spell-checking programmes provide great assistance, especially when supported by a good dictionary. Chronic spellers should always maintain a (preferably alphabetical) list of corrected errors, and try to learn new rules (and exceptions!). For instance (in British English) advice-advise, device-devise, licence-license, practice-practise each follow the same pattern: the -ice is a noun, the -ise is a verb. 
Simple Errors

For important do*****ents, there is nothing better than a good, old-fashioned proof-read. As an example, the following comes from a national advertising campaign/quiz run by a famous maker of Champagne:

    Question 3: Which Country has one the Triple Crown the most times?


Won understands the error, but is not impressed by the quality of that company’s product. 

Sentence Length

Avoid long sentences. We tend to associate “unit of information” with “a sentence”. Consequently when reading, we process the information when we reach the full stop. If the sentence is too long, we lose the information either because of our limited attention span or because the information was poorly decomposed to start with and might, perhaps, have been broken up into smaller, or possibly better punctuated, sentences which would better have kept the attention of the reader and, by doing so, have reinforced the original message with greater clarity and simplicity. 

Word Length

It is inappropriate to utilize verbose and bombastic terminology when a suitable alternative would be to: keep it simple. Often the long, complex word will not be understood. Further, if the reader is distracted by the word itself, then less attention is paid to the meaning or to the information you wished to convey. 

I believe that a digital human-computer-interface data-entry mechanism should be called a keyboard; I don’t know why, but I do. 


When one is trying hard to write an impressive do*****ent, it is easy to slip into grandiose formulae: words and phrases which sound significant but which convey nothing but noise.

You must exterminate. So: “for the reason that” becomes “because”; “with regards to” becomes “about”; “in view of the fact that” becomes “since”; “within a comparatively short period of time” becomes “soon”.

Often you can make a sentence sound more like spoken English simply be changing the word order and adjusting the verb. So: “if the department experiences any difficulties in the near future regarding attendance of meetings” becomes “if staff cannnot attend the next few meetings”. As a final check, read your do*****ent aloud; if it sounds stilted, change it. 


Writing is a complex tool, you need to train yourself in its use or a large proportion of your activity will be grossly inefficient. You must reflect upon your writing lest it reflects badly upon you.

If you want one message to take from this article, take this: the writing of a professional engineer should be clear, complete and concise. If your do*****ent satisfies these three criteria, then it deserves to be read.


Gerard M Blair is a Senior Lecturer in VLSI Design at the Department of Electrical Engineering, The University of Edinburgh. His book Starting to Manage: the essential skills is published by Chartwell-Bratt (UK) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (USA). He welcomes feedback either by email ( or by any other method found here

Note: An article on writing skills for engineers. However, it is probably applicable to anyone who wishes to improve his/her writing skills.



The Complaint King


Do we realise that we complain more than we compliment? Our member, Sylvia Sim, has a story to share with us that we should remember to turn complaints into compliments.

When we feel hurt, when we don’t like what is being done to us, we get angry. The first thing that comes to our mind is “I want to COMPLAIN”. While we complain to vent our anger, or to get what we want, we do not consider the feelings of the person who is receiving those complaints. Some complaints can be resolved, some are just bursts of anger, while others are just negative outputs. While we like to complain, we don’t like to listen to other peoples’ complaints.


Today I would like to share with you a story of the “Complaint King”. There was once a King who loved to complain. When the sun was up, he would complain that it was too hot and he would melt. When it was raining, he would complain that he could not go hunting and thus his day was wasted. He complained on everything, from the food and drinks he ate, to the clothes he wore, to the size of his hands and fingers. He had an Advisor who was completely opposite in temperament from him. He greeted the day with glee when it was sunny and was happy that the plants would grow taller on a rainy day. He turned negative thinking into positive thinking – complimenting the King’s dressing and thought nothing at all of the complaints made by the King. He was just so happy about everyday.

Both the King and the Advisor loved hunting. One day on a hunting trip, the King lost his last finger of his right hand. Oh! How the King moaned and groaned of his loss. He regretted using the wrong knife with the wrong action which led to the lost finger. The Advisor said: “You don’t use your last finger anyway, so it is OK. It will be much worse if the accident causes you to lose your thumb or index finger. Then you can’t shoot your arrow anymore. You are so lucky that it is your last finger that you lose.” The King got even more upset and angry. He just could not get over the loss of his last finger and get on with his life.

Months later, on another hunting trip, while chasing after a rabbit, they intruded into the territory of another tribe. The native people caught them and tied them up. These natives were cannibals. They were very happy to meet the King and the Advisor. “WOW! We have fresh, new meat to eat today”, they said. While waiting for the water to boil, they did a body check on the King…….. Oh! No!….. One missing finger! These natives did not like to eat mutilated bodies. So they freed the King and pushed him to the side. Then they checked on the Advisor. “WOW……. This one is perfect. We will eat this one!” they exclaimed.  Standing by the side, the King saw what was happening. He asked the Advisor; “You are always telling me to look at the brighter side of things. Now that you are going to be cooked and eaten, exactly what brighter side of things can you think about?” The Advisor replied “Well, at least I will die nobly and honourably. I provide food to feed these people. When I die now, I don’t have to suffer from old age diseases that will plague me later in life and most of all, I don’t have to listen to your endless complaints anymore. As for you, my King, it is your lost finger that saved your life.”

From this story, we learn that even the most easy-going person, like the Advisor, also hates to listen to endless complaints.  No one complains with a smiling face. The look of the King must be indeed unpleasant to look at.

There are things that are pointless to complain about. For example, the weather. If it is too hot, we accept it and wear a sun-block. We can still be happy with it. It is pointless to complain about things that are beyond our control.

In this imperfect world there are opportunities abound for complaints to occur. However, there is also room for improvement. If we want to complain so as to improve the situation, then we should turn a complaint into a compliment.

The Toastmaster Club taught us how to give feedback in three positive steps:

1. Appreciate the effort

2. Explain the harmful effects of the action

3. Ask for help or correction

For example: if the wife’s cooking is really bad, and the husband says “Your cooking is bad. I can’t eat the food you cook. Let’s eat out.” Do you think the wife will be happy when she hears this, especially if she is really making an effort in her cooking? Will she feel hurt? Is there room for the wife to improve? Will this little problem of bad cooking affect the marriage?

Let’s try to apply the Toastmaster’s 3 steps:

Husband:” I appreciate your effort in trying to cook a meal for me. There is a place where I especially like their cooking. I will treat you to a dinner there and maybe you can learn some tips from them.”

Now Ladies, if you husband said that to you, would you be eager to improve your cooking? ……….. YES.

While complaints are jarring to the ears, compliments are soothing to the ears. Complaints create animosity and anger between the speaker and the receiver. Sometimes, we may succeed in getting what we want. But the receiver is not happy changing his behaviour for us. Turning Complaints into Compliments is a fine art. It is a skill that is worth acquiring.

So the next time we can’t get what we want and we are seething with anger, remember the story of the Complaint King. It is the lost finger that saved his life. Turning the Complaints into Compliments may give us better rewards.


Why you shouldn’t visit rich people

I recently paid a visit to a millionaire’s house, and ended up not having anything to drink despite the offer. Below is how the offer was
made to me:

Question: “What would you like to have….. Fruit juice, Soda,Tea,Chocolate, Milo, or Coffee?”

Answer: “Tea please”


Question: “Ceylontea, Herbal tea, Bush tea, Honey bush tea, Ice tea or green tea?”

Answer: “Ceylontea”

Question: “How would you like it? Black or white?”

Answer: “White”

Question: “Milk, Whitener, or Condensed milk?”

Answer : “With milk.”

Question: “Goat milk, Camel milk or cow milk”

Answer: “With cow milk please.”

Question: “Milk from Freezeland cow or Afrikaner cow?”

Answer: “Uhmm. I will take it black.”

Question: “Would you like it with sweetener, sugar or honey?”

Answer: “With sugar”

Question:” Beet sugar or cane sugar?”

Answer: “Cane sugar”

Question:” White, brown or yellow sugar?”

Answer: “Walau! Forget about tea just give me a glass of water instead.”

Question: “Mineral water or still water?”

Answer: “Mineral water”

Question: “Flavored or non-flavored?”

Answer: “Gee! I give up just forget about everything.”


Prevention or Exercise


Every morning I wake up and do my exercises. Doing exercise every day is important to keep in shape and to stay healthy.

First my eye exercise – (blink) left, right, left, right, left, right

Next my nose exercise – (blow) left, right, ……

And last of all my mouth exercise. (Blow cheeks. One, two, three).Wait a minute. Why do I need to do mouth exercise if I talk everyday and when I use my mouth so much in Toastmasters.


You may say, that’s not exercising! According to the Collins English Dictionary, exercise is, you move your body energetically in order to get fit and to remain healthy. I’m moving some muscles in my body. Maybe not so energetically but there are some muscle movement. Only thing is, it’s my eyes, my nose and my mouth.

Now back to my exercise. (go thru the motions). When I was doing this one morning, I happened to glance at the mirror. Horror of horrors! What have I done? I’ve sprained my facial muscles from over exercising. Or is it because I didn’t warm up properly.

Wrinkles, wrinkles, wrinkles and it hurts everywhere (pointing). Oh dear, oh dear. Look at these wrinkles. What am I going to do?

I quickly rushed down to A&E (Accident & Emergency) for help. Doctor! I screamed. Look at what’s happen to me! I’ve got wrinkles, Can you help?

The doctor calmly looked at me. First my eyes (pocking it) Ow, Ow!Then my nose (pinched it until I couldn’t breath, chocking sound). But when he got to my mouth. He immediately taped it (action accordingly)

(Tear off the tape) He shook his head sadly.

What is it, doctor? What is it? I cried.

He shook his head sadly again and very solemnly said,

I’m sorry June. You went and overdid it. Exercise without my supervision. This is the price you have to pay for it. But. I can recommend two treatments for you. But he shook his head so sadly.

Yes, Yes! I cried , Vitamins, Anti-Oxidants, stimuli? Money is not an obstacle. Here, how much does it cost? (Paper money thrown about). $10,000. $100,000? I have a lot of monopoly money!

He shook his head sadly.

You can try the expensive treatment like botox injection. He said Here, here & here. But there is one side effect.

What’s that?

Everything will sag. All you muscles will go limp. And you will talk like this (do demo)

The alternative is not a cure but a prevention. Do not tax your facial features any more. That means whatever wrinkles you have, you cannot get rid of them but you can prevent new ones from appearing.

Tell me, tell me! What should I do? I asked in despair.

He reached into his cupboard and took out

A bottle of cleanser, moisturizer and sun block.

Use these, he said, every day. Come rain. Come sun. Indoors or Outdoors.

It’s as easy as that?

My mouth opened wide and it caught a fly.

The doctor said. No, no. Don’t eat the poor fly. You don’t need other stimulus. That won’t take your wrinkles away.

Remember, these toiletries will only prevent further deterioration. Prevention is always better that cure.


Accept – Champion Contest Speech

Champion Contest Speech 2003/2004 by Richard Sng

“He looks unfriendly. He looks unapproachable. Fierce looking, intimidating.”


Yes, time and time again I heard these remarks said about me.  I’ve even been told that I possess the 3Gs.  No, not the 3rd Generation mobile phones.  I look grim, grumpy and grouchy.

It is a fact and I have to ACCEPT the fact !



Contest Chair, ladies and gentlemen.


We have to ACCEPT the fact that life isn’t perfect.  There will be stumbling blocks, obstacles and barriers along our journey of life.  We have to learn to ACCEPT them !


Do we get HURT, ANGRY and DEPRESSED by what others say, how others feel towards us and what others think of us ?

Our lives will become miserable when we cannot ACCEPT these remarks, resulting in poor SELF RESPECT, poor SELF ESTEEM and poor SELF CONFIDENCE.


Let me share with you my experience.  The SIX GOLDEN, no, GOLDEN is absolute. GOLDEN has become a cliche. The SIX PLATINUM WAYS and how you can learn to ACCEPT.

I’ve come up with this acronym A C C E P T .



Acknowledge our weaknesses, limitations and shortcomings.  It is important that we must be AWARE of them !

Yes, A is to ACKNOWLEDGE and to be AWARE.


Two … To ACCEPT is to CHANGE.

CHANGE for the better.

Remember what Sir Winston Churchill said ?

” To improve is to CHANGE.  To be perfect is to CHANGE often. “

Two months ago I went for a major operation and was hospitalised for ten days.  Next month I will have to go for another operation.  I have to CHANGE my eating habits.  I have to CHANGE my lifestyle.  CHANGE for the better.


If we cannot CHANGE, then COMPROMISE.



I cannot CHANGE my face unless I go for plastic surgery.  So I COMPROMISE.  I learn to smile more. My club members always remind me to smile often.  I approach others instead of waiting for them to come forward to speak to me.


Four … To ACCEPT is to be realistic about our EXPECTATIONS.

We want the ideal partner, the ideal job and the ideal figure.

We are not tall enough.  We are not smart enough.  We are not good-looking enough.  I say,  enough of this ‘ enough syndrome ‘ !


Next … To ACCEPT is to practise PATIENCE

I know I do not portray the ideal first impression.  I am patient.  Over time, many people will get to know me, my character and my personality.  I get to make more friends.


Lastly … To ACCEPT is to exercise TOLERANCE

Many of my friends know that I sleep very late ……… 2 am, 3 am.

I dare not go to bed. I wait till I’m very tired and sleepy before I go to bed.

Let me tell you the real reason.

I occupy only one-third of the bed.  My spouse occupies two-thirds. Those who have shared rooms with me at Toastmasters conventions will know that I do not smoke.  I do not snore.

Soh Swee Kiat, James Leong, Michael Wee, Tony Phee.

For many years I got hit, I got slapped, I got kicked.

On two occasions I was kicked out of bed.  You see, my spouse is a very bad sleeping partner.  She is very restless.

She tosses and turns in bed all the time !

Each time she tosses, I get hit !  Each time she turns, I get slapped.

When we took our marriage vows, it was ” in sickness and in health, for better or for worse ‘.  I have been worse off.

I checked with my Toastmasters lawyer friends whether I have good grounds for a divorce; abuse and torture.  I just have to TOLERATE.


Ladies and Gentlemen, each time when I face setbacks and drawbacks, each time when I feel low and down, I remember these beautiful lines :


Nothing can bring back the hour

of splendour in the grass, of beauty in the flower.

Let us not look back but rather find

strength in what is left behind. “


Yes, find the strength to ACCEPT !


Look ahead !  Move on !  Life can be better !


Contest Chair.


Contest speech by DTM Richard Sng ~ the Champion of TRL TMC’s In House International Speech Contest held on Feb 28, 2004.


Subsequently, he won the 1st Runner-Up at the Area S2 International Speech Contest on March 20, 2004.





Degrees of Adjectives by June Oh

The degrees of comparison are known as the positive, the comparative and the superlative

The positive is not a comparison. The comparative is used when two of the same things are compared. The superlative is used when more than two of the same things or innumerables are compared.

The suffixes –er and –est is normally attached to form most comparatives and superlatives. Eg. rich, richer, richest. We also use –ier and –iest when a two-syllable adjective ends with a y eg.happy, happier, happiest or we use more and most, when an adjective has more than one syllable. Eg. beautiful, more beautiful, most beautiful

Certain adjectives have irregular forms in the comparative and superlative degree. The Toastmaster of the Day (TMD) uses these words in almost every meeting i.e. better or best for voting of prepared speech or speech evaluator. Often TMDs make the mistake of using the word best and not better when only two qualify to be voted. Best, of course, is used when three or more individuals qualify to be voted for the BEST ribbon. 

Other irregular adjectives are as follows : 


Food for thought: 

Best doesn’t mean you’re good! (LKF)