Monday, April 18, 2016


Oxymoron - the open secret

I was seriously funny introducing the word oxymoron to a group of trainee speakers at a Teamsters International club in Singapore. I was asked to be Language Evaluator at a club in Singapore. Language Evaluator in the UK would be called Grammarian.

I chose as word of the day, oxymoron. I wrote it on the white board whilst waiting for permission to start.  I looked around for something solid to use as a ruler to keep my writing straight. I found a plastic A shape for displaying the word Language Evaluator was solid and straight.

The word oxymoron is a combination of the word O x y, meaning sharp, and moron, dull or stupid. An oxymoron looks like two terms which contradict each other but creates a new idea. Here are some examples:

o x y - sharp or point (spellchecker wants to change this to oxo)
Moron - from moros stupid
seriously funny
act naturally
jumbo shrimp
living dead
hell's angels
deafening silence
Microsoft works
open secret
plastic glasses
sleeping policeman
Military intelligence
only choice
working holiday
genuine imitation
v i r t u a l reality (spell checker wants to turn this into visual)

minor crisis
howling silence (book title by Catherine Lim)

The audience came up with more:
pretty ugly
Cold war
true lies

You can make up a sentence incorporating several:

It was an open secret that plastic glasses gave us only one choice, to call in military intelligence and offer them a working holiday.

More samples of useful information from

I have used the word Oxymoron at least three times in Singapore.

Monday April 18 2016 in Singapore at Brilliant Advanced.  In advance I suggested to the person who invited me to the club that we should ask everybody in the room to use the word in a sentence so they had the confidence to pronounce an unfamiliar word and got practise at least once, which might help them remember it later as they had heard it used about 20 times by the different members of the audience at the start.

So I was asked to introduce the meeting with word of the day and the introductions of members and guests.

I should have written on the whiteboard:
1 Give your name - loudly, clearly, slowly - spell if it's difficult, repeat your name
2 Your Toastmasters Club name / Guest/ where you found this club details
3 Use the word of the day.

Angela Lansbury, author, speech coach, speaker.

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Sunday, April 03, 2016


Competent Communication (Spanish)

Competent Communication (Spanish)

I just love Spanish. So easy to understand.


Competent Communication (Portuguese)

Competent Communication (Portuguese)

Here it is in Portuguese. I was at first confused by set of four. I thought it meant you got four different books. Then I realised it's four copies of the same books, so clubs can cut down on postage and keep a stock for new members.


Competent Leadership (German)

Pick up some German.

Competent Leadership (German)


ein, eine - a / an

führer - leader

führung - leadership

Kompetente - competent

praktischer -


a/an - ein, eine

competent - kompetente

leader - führer

leadership - Führung

Angela Lansbury, teacher and tutor of English and public speaker, author, speaker, workshop leader, competition judge


High Performance Leadership (French)

Here's a handy book. French.

High Performance Leadership (French)


What To Do When The Mike and Power and Lights Go Out

On LinkedIn a member of Toastmasters International asked what people would do when lights go out. Luckily nowadays many mobiles are designed with a light. Check your smart phone so you can find how to turn it on in the dark.

If one person in the room can turn on their mobile or iPad or laptop screen, that light will enable the other people in the audience to find their mobile phones and switch them on.

You can use a water bottle to amplify light like a lantern. A mirror or even a reflective lipstick case can be used to reflect light. Instead of a roving microphone, you  could move around he audience with a lit up phone to shine on the face of speakers in the audience. Best to have no more than one person moving about the room.

Organisers should have a backup power system. If your speech uses slides, have a printout of each slide in colour, A5 or A4 or better still A3 to hold up.

My worst plunge into darkness was teaching English in a room with no windows. Luckily I used to speak on radio, so I just pretended I was on radio doing phone ins.

Always check the exits on arrival in case of an emergency. Then at least you can make for doors in an emergency and call others to follow you.

If lights go out during table topics, change the topics to humorous stories about what I did in an emergency.

If you know the audience well you might be able to get some funny lines in, such as, "You two at the back, stop smooching. The lights could come on any minute!" Or, "I'm afraid of the dark. Can somebody hold my hand? Any lonely millionaire will do."

Angela Lansbury, author and speaker.

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Friday, April 01, 2016


Best Table Topics Speech, in French, About a car accident

I went to the Francophone Toastmasters International club meeting at their new venue in Cairnhill Community Club. (Exit B from Newton station. Exit A is for the Sheraton Towers hotel where Singapore Club meets the first three Mondays of the month.)

Whilst Cairnhill Community Centre was being renovated the Francophile club had found a temporary home at the Alliance Francaise  just the other side of Newton station, exit C. But  in March we were back in the Cairnhill Community Centre grand modern renovated building.

I had printed out the agenda in advance. I was given the task of being Ah Counter. In French the Ah Counter is called Computeur d'hesitations. This job is listed as being for an invité which means guest (invited person) as opposed to a member.

Angela Lansbury with ribbon won for best table topic at Francophone Speakers, Singapore.

I volunteered to be the third and last impromptu speaker.

My topic was (I've translated from French): You are in a car accident. You are the driver. A person has been killed. The accident is your fault. The driver of the other car is in tears and thinks it is their fault. Do you admit that it is your fault or keep quiet?

I replied animatedly:
Vous ne direz rien! Jamais. Absolument pas. Ce n'est pas permis! Si vous avez regarder votre papier avec l'assurance vous devez lire des instructions. Vous ne devez pas admettre rien. C'est pour la compagnie qui va payer de decider ce qu'il fault dire.

Vous pouvez appelez pour la police, les pompiers, les gens pour vous aider, aider les blessée, mais vous ne direz rien au sujet de la cause.

C'est pour la police de trouver la faute. On peut voir, par les photographies, les marques des roues des voitures, pour savoir la vitesse des voitures. Ce n'est pas votre metier. Vous aider les blessée, mais vous ne dites rien. Moi, je crois toujours que les choses sont ma faute. Mais après un accident, c'est obligatoire de garder la silence.

You say nothing! Absolutely not. It's not allowed.

If you have seen your car insurance document you must have read the instructions (of what to do in an accident). You must admit nothing. It's for the company which has to pay out to decide what you must say.

You can call the police, the firemen, the ambulance people, yourself help the wounded, but you must admit nothing on the subject of the cause of the accident. It's for the police (investigation) to establish the cause. That will be proved, seen from the photographs, the marks left on the road by the tyres of the vehicles showing their direction and speed. It's not your job. You are not an expert.

You help anybody who is injured to receive medical assistance but - you say nothing. (You might not remember. Be confused, in shock.) Besides, I always think everything is my fault! But after an accident, your insurance company says - you are obliged to stay silent!

Toastmasters Francophone de Singapour
Vendredi 1 April
Cairnhill Community Club
1 Anthony Road
229944 Singapour

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