Thursday, February 18, 2016


Prize Winning Speeches in 2016 (and other speeches)

Here's a list of the speeches for which I won ribbons - maybe you can see why; also the ones where I did not - can you see why?

Recordings in my diary:

Judge at  .. Saturday April 2nd 2016.

Recorded in Manuals:

Best Table Topics: April 19 Tuesday evening at ACCA, 2016, accountants in Singapore (subject Favourite country to holiday - spoke about Singapore's Old Ford Factory WWII museums).
Francophone April 1st 2016.
Best Evaluator:2016
Best Speaker:

On club or competition agendas:

Organising an event (wedding ceremony!)
1 Saturday Jan 16th 2016 at Botanical Gardens.
I am not qualified to perform a real ceremony but I performed a mock 'rehearsal' wedding ceremony outdoors on the Botanical Gardens bandstand where the bride to be planned to get married for the outdoor photographs for Andrew Whitney and Sharon Ng (now Mrs Whitney) when the officiant was late. About 100 guests according to the table plan.

Table topics bilingual club Bukit P a n j a n g 
I won best table topics ribbon
One Swallow doesn't make a spring.
I talked about counting birds for the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, annual bird watch in England every February. (How you count only two birds simultaneously to prevent over-counting one bird flying in and out. In winter you count only native birds which are in the UK all year.)
January 2016

Bison. I was language evaluator. I won table topics on weddings. Subject ? Be prepared. ?

Saturday 6 Feb 2016 at Toastmasters International Eurasian Club.
I won best evaluator, evaluating Carolyn Street-Johns.
I won best table topics. Question 

Second place International Speech Competition Feb 15 2016
Club Harrovians
Second place in Evaluation of Martin Doe's test speech Feb 15 2016.

Singapore, Jurong Green CC
March 19th

Singapore Thursday 24th March, 2016. Eminent Toastmasters. 
Angela Lansbury won a ribbon for best table topic (impromptu speech). The subject was My Secret. 

Everybody sat round an large oval boardroom table and at each place was a horizontal oblong piece of paper with two boxes. One said My name is. the other said My Secret Is. 

I joked, "But if I tell you it will no longer be a secret!"

I thought, what can I say that isn't silly and promotes myself and my book on quotations. I filled in my answer and all the pieces of paper were put into a box. the first speaker to be called was Marshall, a tall American.  His secret was that when he first arrived in Singapore he had waist length dreadlocks. The weather was so hot that he gradually cut his hair shorter, year after year, until it is the length you see now.

My name was pulled out of the box. My answer was: I printed off a copy of my book and I want to turn it into an ebook so I can sell it at an affordable price. But I can't work out how to create an ebook. I've looked at kindle and Amazon but thought I would start with . Each time I load it up I'm told I have not formatted it correctly. There are only three things you have to do. Put the title as A. But the contents as B. Put sub-headings as C.

You have to do that in order. Whatever I do, it doesn't work.

Afterwards a member I had evaluated, who sat next to me, said he would help me put my book on

Francophone Club at Cairnhill CC. 1st Friday of month. 2016 Friday April 1st.
Subject: You are in an accident, Somebody is dead and it's our fault. The other driver in tears thinks it's their fault. Do you confess? Answer: No, your insurance document forbids you to admit guilt. You await the police report.

(This actually happened to me.)
First I was passenger in a car which hit a pedestrian. I thought  the pedestrian was dead and my car's driver was at fault. The police told us the damaged hire car would be impounded and the brakes checked. If the brakes were faulty, the hire car company was at fault. Skid marks in the road, photographed by the police photographer would show the speed and direction of the car. The distance to the nearest traffic light would be measured. If the pedestrian had not crossed on a nearby crossing  9within 100 yards) but deliberately walked out in the road nearby he would be deemed to have caused the accident (walking in a forbidden area and without due care and attention).

On the second occasion i was driving on the M4 motorway in the slow lane when another car hit the back of mine. I though I must have been driving too slowly. Had I been looking at my phone - or was that several minutes earlier?

The driver of the tow truck which collected my car and dropped me off at the nearest station informed me that if the other car hit the back of mine the car which rear-ended me was at fault regardless. Even if my car was stationery, the car behind should have been at sufficient distance and speed to slow down.

See other post about my reply, in French. "I always think any accident is my fault!"
April 19 2016, Tuesday evening, accountants group, ACCA
(Not the other accountants group which is ISCA which I also attended.)
This group meets in Wisma on a high floor. I was met at Orchard MRT by area governor who helped me find the  passageway semi-circling anti clockwise from ION, along a passageway, then through entrance door at Basement Two, up in the lift. It's one of those high security buildings in Singapore where you can't even get into the toilets without finding the bottom to press to open the sliding door of your floor, then the door to the one cubicle seems to be locked so you think it's occupied. Eventually you go back in the break to eat, and find that the committee member has a key to the ladies and has to unlock it and there are two cubicles inside.

I was language evaluator and mentored a member doing a speech entitled Birds. I suggested she expanded her title to engage the audience what 's in it for me. The evaluator said the same.

WINNER OF BEST TABLE TOPIC at ACCA in Singapore, April 2016
At topics time the topics master had prepared eight topics. I waited whilst three guests spoke, Especially as Hock beside me kept saying, "Anybody who isn't on the programme to speak - this section is your turn." When we came to the fourth topic I was considering volunteering. The topics master said, "I've been told because of time this must be the last topic .." I immediately waved my hand.

The topic was, "What is your favourite country or destination for a holiday?"
"Singapore!" I shouted. Everybody smiled and laughed. The topics master or a heckler in the seated crowd asked, "Why Singapore?"
I considered whether to pick the Danish Seamen's Church I had visited earlier in the day, or the Old Ford Factory Museum about Singapore in WWII. With nobody from Denmark in the audience, little to say about the building, and unsure if anybody was Chrstian, I decided that Singapore in WWII would be more general interest. But did they already know it? I asked, how many of you have visited the museum. No hands went up. Just in case they were shy to say so, for fear of being asked, I reversed the questions, "How many have not visited it?" All hands went up.

"You should," I said. "It's free for Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents and only a couple dollars  or pounds if you are a visitor. It tells you about Singapore in World War II but six people could visit it and have a totally different experience. I went there with my husband. I was most interested in the plants used by people to eat in wartime and how coconuts were used not just for food but half a dozen other uses, such as oil for cooking, and burning the woody trunk and coconut shells to make heat for cooking. But my husband was interested in transport and how they used other products to make fuel for vehicles, and all the mechanical items, such as levers and tanks and boats.
I was also interested in the history. I'd always thought the Japanese demanded unconditional surrender by the Births because they were just being peremptory and ruthless. It turned out that the Japanese were in a hurry to get the British to agree to surrender (and disarm) because the Japanese were heavily outnumbered and as soon as the British realised this they might change their minds. A totally new view of history. ( I saw the red card for stop speaking and rushed to reach my conclusion relevant to the question.) Yes, Singapore's my favourite place. It's full of fascinating places to see - I and you haven't seen half of them."
Angela Lansbury, travel writer and photographer, speech writer and performer.

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My Winning Speeches, books, ribbons, stories, photos: Why I keep records.

In previous years I have lost track of the number of ribbons I won and at which clubs. Why does it matter?

1 Counting Books You've Read and Reviewed
I counted the number of books I read in a year at Grammar School when one of the English teachers gave us a pocket sized notebook and asked us to write a review of a book we wrote on each page. I set myself the task of filling the notebook, reading a book every week, and reading more books in year two than in year one.

If I still kept this notebook system and re-read it at odd moments, as entertainment when waiting at bus stops, train stations and airports, I would be in a better position to answer the (on the) table topic for (impromptu) speeches at meetings.

2 Recording Titles and Authors
When I first did table topics I could never answer the question: What is your favourite book and why? I had too many books. Now the answer is simple. My favourite fiction book is Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, because it has a twist ending in each of the chapters.

2 Counting And Recording Photos
I used to wonder why composers gave their orchestral pieces numbers as well as names. Beethoven's Fifth, and so on. Then I met the head of a photographic society in New Zealand who had a basement room with stack os photos. He said he numbered all photos in date order by year. He kept indexes by country and subject, using the photo number to find the photo. So the first photo he took in the year 1950 would be number one. He would have a list of photos taken in New Zealand, starting with that number one photo. Another list of photos of skiing might also begin with that number one photo.

3 Counting and Recording Short Stories
When I started writing short stories I started by storing them alphabetically. But I kept changing the titles. It then became easier to store them in date order. This week's and last week's stories were easy to find.

4 Duplicate Filing
When I worked in the British Council we kept everything duplicate filed. One copy of every letter went into a subject file. The second copy was in a day file. If you did not know where the letter was filed, or it was missing, or misfiled, you could check the date file.

5 Counting and Recording Speeches
Counting and recording speeches is handy. One speaker I met at a hotel seemed very well organised. He gave a speech at a nearby restaurant table at Christmas). He told me he gave many speeches to clubs, often two a year. he had a card index on which he wrote the title of the speech he gave, the date, and the stories and jokes he told. When invited to give a second speech in one year, he took a second card and gave a speech of a different subject with different stories. However, a year later he felt he could repeat the first speech. Some of the audience would be different and most people would have forgotten.

6 Statistics Of Articles Written
I never bothered with statistics to tell others. I did count the number of travel article I wrote in a year.  I managed an average of only about 8-16 a year. I wanted to reach one a week. the maximum number of times I resumed the same story was four times. I usually spent one week on admin, researching a trip or press trip, then one week away. One week on filing, writing, sending off the finished article and photos, making revisions on request. One week post-writing on thank yous, filing, and so on.

Then I went to a lecture on travel writing given by another writer. She proudly claimed, "I have written over 100 travel articles."

I thought, "I must have done more than that. I've written about ten articles a year for more than ten years. She had made herself sound an expert, very important, not just by the quality of the places her work had appeared, but simply on numbers.

I then realised that I could boost my own ego in slack periods, as well as giving myself a more impressive CV and introduction when speaking.

Count statistics. Have you won three prizes for speaking? I have more than 50 ribbons for best speaker or best impromptu speaker or best evaluator, in the UK. Another ten or so in Singapore.

Look for statistics in every business or hobby. When you start a business or talk about your hobby. How many wine bottles do you have? How many stamps have you collected? How many books have you read or written. How many houses have you sold? How many flats have you rented? How many countries have you visited? How many mountains have you climbed? How many cars have you owned, bought, sold?  How many trees are in your garden?

When you fill out a questionnaire you are asked about your lifestyle. How many times a week, month or year do you eat out at restaurants? How many mobile phones have you owned? How many times have you made a home cooked Christmas pudding? Only once - never again? Or for fifty years?

How many husbands and wives or girlfriends have you had? How many times have you proposed marriage and been turned down. You can make a positive out of a negative. Cosmo Landesman was billed in the Sunday Times as having proposed marriage five times and been turned down and still looking.

Angela Lansbury, travel writer and photographer, speech writer and performer, researcher and author.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Why I Never Cancel Meetings

I never cancel meetings because of low numbers. Whether for business or pleasure.

A Toastmasters International forum on LinkedIn recently discussed the question of cancelling meetings because of a low turnout being anticipated.

I would only cancel a meeting because conditions were dangerous and I didn't want people to risk their health or their cars. It's terribly disappointing to go to a meeting and find it was cancelled and all the members were emailed but as a guest you weren't informed. You can have clear motorways but dangerous side roads, or the opposite.

One meeting was cancelled by email. I asked somebody who lived in the same road as the venue to put a notice on the door giving my phone number and saying that anybody turning up should phone me. One person turned up, keen to rehearse her speech so I invited her over to my house. We had a wonderful evening. She rehearsed her speech and I rehearsed mine.

I've had two or three other committee meetings with only two or three people. I recall one when we got a lot done and phoned a third party to get more done.

Another time two latecomers joined the original two of us. We had a great foursome which would have been cancelled if we'd given up earlier.

When I was a postgraduate, I started a postgraduate book group. At the first meeting only two people turned up apart from me and the speaker. I phoned the events organiser and apologised and said the group was not a success and cancel the next two meetings we'd planned. He said, "I can't do that. I've booked three newspaper advertisements. They sold me three for the price of two.

You can't get people traveling all the way across London to meetings and then cancel them. Even if only one of two people turn up, if the event is advertised you must run it. We have the building and the room and it brings our whole organisation into disrepute if people go to events which get cancelled.

The next week we had four people plus the speaker and myself. A total of six.

The third week we had eight people plus the speaker and myself, a total of ten. I told the building's event manager, and he said, "We did tell them it would be a course of ten books. If you've got ten people, that's not bad for a new group. I won't bother with any more ads, just see how it goes."

The following week we had a total of 18, then 24, too many for the room, latecomers in the corridor trying to squeeze in. We had a busy little group. What a success. That ran for a few years.

The experience of running the university book group gave me the courage to later start another group with a friend who lived in the same street, meeting at people's homes. I wanted to start a literature group. He wanted to start a music group. So we ran a Music and Literature group.

The group carried on for several years. Many years afterwards I would go to events and meet people who told me they'd been at one of the meetings.

I recently bumped into a girl who reminded me that she'd met her husband to be at the first meeting. They were still married.

What a good thing I had not cancelled the postgraduate group after that first meeting.

Angela Lansbury, author and speaker

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My Prizewinning Speech On Be Prepared (To Run A Wedding Ceremony)

The first time I delivered this speech was at Harrovians Toastmasters club on Monday Feb 15 2016. Two members of the club suggested that I make it humorous and perform at the Humorous speech contest.

At the start we were told 'no photography allowed during speeches'. I presume that is so that flashlights don't distract speakers. The ruling also gives Toastmasters International copyright or right to license the right to film the proceedings and then sell the film to members and others as a fund-raiser for what I believe is a not for profit company.

I wish I had remembered to ask if it was OK for me to pass a smartphone to another person sitting nearby and ask them to video my speech.

The only other thing I could think of doing was either recording or videoing the speech immediately after I got home, at latest the morning after.

I typed up the speech afterwards including the last minute additions I added after dressing in a mother of the bride wedding outfit, new, unworn and quite expensive, which I decided to wear at the last minute.

My last minute joke was:

"Be prepared. I'm wearing my 'mother of the bride' outfit. I prepared (early) by buying this for my son's wedding. He doesn't yet have a girlfriend."

The word in brackets is what I considered adding, as an afterthought as I typed this.

I came second in the speech competition (also second in the evaluation competition). The winner of both first places thought she would probably be away/unavailable on the date of the competition so I would have the opportunity to compete at Area level.

Later I was emailed that she would be able to attend the area contest.

Angela Lansbury, CC, ATG.

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Monday, February 15, 2016


On Radio: If you can't answer, don't answer.

 I was speaking on radio about the marriage in Nepal, having explained that I hadn't met the couple just seen the preparations on the buildings. The interview was live.

The interviewer's last question, "Was what does she look like - when you met her?" 
I stammered that I hadn't met her. 
I was upset. 

So when I went for another radio interview about a book on Shopping By Post, interviewed by Sue McGregor on Woman's Hour, I carefully went through all the questions, assured that I wouldn't be asked surprise questions which I couldn't answer. 

At the end she had a few seconds to spare and she asked me, 'What will the next legislation be?' 

I refused to answer, shook my head and waved my hand. 

After a moment's pause, she ended, "That is a question we must all ask ourselves." 

When I got home, my family had recorded my great moment on Radio. 

I asked them, 'Did you hear that awful fluff at the end when I couldn't, didn't answer the question?' 

They said 'no'. 

Unconvinced, I played it back.

To my amazement, the interviewer's question sounded like a rhetorical question!

Two lessons here:

If your interviewee can't or won't answer, pretend it's a rhetorical questions.

If you don't want to answer, just say silent. Let the interviewer deal with the silence.

Angela Lansbury, travel writer and photographer, researcher, author speaker.

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Monday, February 01, 2016


Preparing For Weddings, Observing The Wedding Speech and Conducting A Wedding Impromptu!

I was invited to the wedding of good friends Andrew and Sharon and just in case I was called on to speak, I had looked up a couple of suitable quotations.

My favourite is:

To keep you love brimming in the loving cup
Whenever you're wrong, admit it
Whenever you're right - shut up!
Ogden Nash

I had prepared to give a wedding speech but I had neglected to prepare to be the MC or officiant. If you ever go to an event such as a wedding, observe the order of events and the phrases that the speakers use:

1 Welcome:
To welcome guests (in general and by name).

2 Names:
To correctly name the hosts, such as the wedding couple and their parents and other other sponsors. Read the menu or wedding table plan or your wedding invitation.

3 Order of ceremony:
To get events in the correct order such as marriage service; then food, then drinks in hand, speeches and toasts.

4 Soothing Phrases:
Phrases to encourage the reluctant or confused hosts and guests to stand up, walk to the microphone, speak and speak up (in correct order). 'Please join me ...,"; I know the groom wants to say a few brief words ..."; "If you could just stand up for a photograph ...".

5 Cover-ups.
To cover up or make humour of any mishaps. For example, 'while we're waiting,'; 'the groom/officiant is on his way'.

6 Farewell.
To close proceedings.

7 Transport.
To ensure guests get home safely (especially if in remote location, late at night, no transport, and guests are sleepy or not sober).

8 Announce Later Events.
To inform guests of any follow up event (how to get from wedding ceremony to reception) and whether it's family only or all are invited and welcome.

9 Time-filling Talk
To find something to say to keep audience's attention whilst waiting for latecomers or for speakers to walk to the microphone, so that the audience don't start talking to each other but pay attention. "Would anybody like to tell us where they first met the bride and groom?" "Does anybody have any advice on how to stay happily married?"

10 Drinks, Flowers and Property
"Please fill your glasses." If there's any drink left in the bottle, please cork it up and take it home. You are welcome to divide the flowers up and take them home. Perhaps a rose for each lady." To ensure that the hosts and guests go home with their own property and know whether to take or leave leftovers such as the table flowers. Please collect your coats from the cloakroom. Please check your chairs and tables and under the table that nothing is left behind. Lost property: a lady is looking for a white handbag; the groom has lost a pair of spectacles in a black case; a fur coat has been found; a small lady's pendant with a pearl ... "Please will all the young ladies gather around the band because the bride is about to throw her bouquet over her shoulder. The bouquet is supposedly to bring luck in love to whoever catches it."

11 Thanks.
To thank all the helpers, bridesmaids, friends, relatives, gifts, donation, makers of cake, cooks, decorations, caterers, staff, dress designer, guests for gifts.

12 Compliments.
To compliment bride and groom (ushers and bridesmaids and guests) on their appearance (if appropriate) and/or the flowers /decor.

13 Location Facilities
To point out interior and exterior facilities: fire exits, toilets, cloakrooms for coats, areas for smoking, other rooms for dancing or quiet talking, gardens for photos, landmarks.

14 To call for silence.
Tap a glass. Bang a gong. Ring a bell. If all else fails, dim the lights or flash them on and off. "Please stand to welcome the bride and groom / MR AND MRS !
Please be seated. Please raise your glasses. The best man will  ...

15 Timing
To draw attention to timing - end of buffet, start of dancing, end of dancing, first dance for bride and groom only, or all, last dance.

16 Proper ending
 Song, applause, toast, compliments, cheers, happy thought or wishing everybody safe journey home.

17 Follow-up Photos, Thanks and More information
 Say whether bride and groom are receiving visitors in new home, going away on honeymoon, will be writing to thank you next weekend or on return, how to see or order photos of the event, if pictures will be in newspapers or on Facebook or media.

ANGELA LANSBURY, author and travel photographer, speaker.
Author of Quick Quotations.

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