Hosting the 131st APTS Meeting and Meeting Dean Shams

On Thursday night, I was privileged to have hosted the 131st APTS meeting. 

Our VP, Eugene Seah, shared about ensuring that we are always bettering ourselves so that we can be ready to take advantage of any opportunities that present themselves. He also advocated the use of self-recorded videos of our presentations, that clients can have a preview of what we offer before they decide if we are suitable for their training requirements.

These are excellent reminders and I shall record a more recent video of my training. The last one was taken quite a few years ago and has been lying dormant in a folder in my computer.

Next, we had Dean Shams to take the platform. Dean has an impressive skillset, one that many of us would be proud to have. He regularly writes articles of 400 words or more in 30 minutes or less.

As an author myself, I know how difficult it is. I had much to learn.

The first thing he told us was that Writers' Block was imaginary. It appears only because we believe we have it.

He had only 3 main steps, which all sound all-too-easy:

Step One: Plan

Step Two: Write

Step Three: Edit

That's it? Well, not quite. He was quick to add that each step has to stand alone and that mixing them is a sure way of slowing down your progress.

What that means is: When you're planning, don't write or edit. When you're writing, don't edit or plan. When you're editing, stop planning or adding content.

Next, he broke it down for us:

1) Write to one person

2) Have an opinion, starting from your emotions

3) Write your main message in 10 words or less so you'll know if you're going off course

4) Focus on at least 1 of 3 outcomes: Think, Feel, Do

5) Start with the conclusion (in 3 sentences)

6) Write 3 points you want to make, then elaborate on them

7) Finish writing, then edit

Dean then got all of us to get down to do each step in a minute (yes, he kept time) each (though he gave us 2 minutes each for points 5 and 6). 

He then gave us 15 minutes to write our 400-word article and many of us managed to do so. I actually finished with a couple of minutes to spare and I was very impressed at how systematic the whole thing was. I then resolved to use this system to produce more articles.

Finally, Dean ended off by letting us know how we can connect with him and made copies of his book - Speak Smart, Make Your Mark - available to us. Needless to say, I got myself a copy. He also informed us of a 1-day workshop that he regularly conducts on writing to influence. The next upcoming one is on 26 August.

Thank you, Dean, for your valuable insight, and for making this session a powerful, highly practical one. I hope to learn much more from you in the near future.

With Dean Shams

Last Night, I Learned How To Create Videos for Udemy and How To Write More Effectively

After 2 months of absenteeism, I finally managed to attend another APTS Meeting last night.

The speakers were Andy Ng, who spoke on producing Udemy videos for (nearly) free, and Walter Lim, who spoke on writing to get leads.

Andy showed us that, with the right equipment and know-how, it wasn't that difficult to produce an online course that could meet Udemy's standards. All we needed was a camera (on a mobile device), a camera stand (with an appropriate head), a video-editing app like VideoShow, PowerPoint installed on the same mobile device, a bluetooth headpiece with a mic, and content that we wanted to turn into a course. Easy peasy!

Of course, it wouldn't be too difficult to get better equipment if we are so inclined but Andy was insistent that there was no need. The most expensive bit of equipment was the bluetooth headpiece, which should be tested for high sound quality before buying.

Andy showed us how the apps he used worked and he showed us some of his finished videos, encouraging us to do the same. Of course, they aren't as polished-looking as 'professional' videos, but they certainly cost a lot less and still get the job done.

One thing that bothered me was Andy's speaking style, which was a little too opinionated for me and he had a tendency to go off-tangent. Also, there were a few times when he spoke rather condescendingly about other trainers who charged fees for helping others to put up Udemy videos. Perhaps he was trying to insert some humour into his presentation. However, I feel that he missed the mark and has, regrettably, adversely affected my impression of him.

Nevertheless, I won't associate a person's manner with the knowledge he has. If the information is useful, it should still be accepted and acted upon as it is.

Our second speaker was Walter Lim.

He told us that he wrote for a living and had been doing so for a very long time. His company name is Cooler Insights and they work with their clients to produce social media content and to direct traffic to their sites.

Being quite an writing expert, he emphasised the importance of an eye-catching visual, a powerful headline and a strong lead-in for any writing that we do. This is especially important for long articles and blog posts.

He also showed us the importance of incorporating appeals to Search and Social functions when we write and he also gave us links to useful tools and resources online such as Google Trends, SEMrush, Buzzsumo to look up trends and Freepik, Pixabay and Unsplash for visuals.

It's a lot to take in all at once but I'll certainly be putting Walter's advice to write regularly and consciously to practice.

Thanks, Walter.

October's APTS Meeting

On Thursday (last Thursday of the month again), I was, once again, at the APTS meeting. One of the first announcements was about our collaboration with another association of professional speakers - Asia Professional Speakers Singapore (APSS).

The speakers that night were Jeremy Foo and Matthew Quek, both of whom doubtlessly added great value to the attendees.

Jeremy taught us how to communicate with the media (not social media) and told us why it's important for our careers as speakers. One of the points that struck me was his reminder that journalists are always on the lookout for new stories and fresh perspectives. They are generally open to hearing us out if we have something of value to share.

Of course, that doesn't mean that we should simply mass e-mail every journalist we can find (although some people do that). Rather, it takes some effort to pitch a story and to help journalists, even if it isn't a story about us or our brand / company.

Matthew was a vocal coach and he taught us to use our voice effectively, especially since it's such an important part of our work. Using the voice incorrectly can hurt our health as well as our credibility.

He went on to guide us through exercises to produce better vocal quality and also gave us useful tips on how to keep our voices healthy.

All in all, it was a very pleasant evening, interspersed with charming conversation and getting the opportunity to help others.

Picture taken from  APTS website

Picture taken from APTS website

September's APTS Meeting

Last night, I was at the 123rd APTS meeting. 

As was usual, there were two speakers - Richard Style and Avi Liran, both of whom happened to be speaking on a similar theme - connecting with your audience.

Richard is a professional emcee and certainly knows his way around the stage. He gave very useful tips on how to build up and maintain the energy of an audience. He admits that things are slightly different for trainers, but insists that the techniques he suggests can easily carry over.

I agree.

When he describes what he does as he is getting on stage, I notice the similarity to what I do as I am about to begin a teaching session. Both of us are looking for similar things - what Richard calls 'hotspots'.

Hotspots are groups of people who are responsive and energetic. For an emcee, this is a huge asset to lifting the overall atmosphere. For a teacher, it is no different, except that there may be moments when the teacher has to get the group to quieten down.

Richard also talks about looking for a 'Mr. Tan'. He explains that he uses this term because 'Tan' is the most common surname in Singapore. A 'Mr. Tan' is someone the audience recognises and listens to, who can drum up enthusiasm when he is asked to participate and who is willing to do so. His advice is to treat 'Mr. Tan' well, and never to over-use him or abuse him.

As a teacher, this is undoubtedly familiar. It is easier to get enthusiasm from our learners when someone gets the ball rolling. This someone has to be known by most of the participants and willing to be your 'guinea pig'. Otherwise, it's going to be a difficult ride.

Avi, on the other hand, has a slightly different approach to connecting with his audience. He prefers to share his heart and be intentional about adding value to those who learn from him. It's not so much about entertainment as it is about giving them something.

With such a wealth of experience, he freely shares his stories and experiences, encouraging us to never be ashamed of making mistakes, since the audience will have made mistakes in their lives too.

He says to learn from these mistakes instead of focusing on the pain they are causing. This has the added advantage of helping us to connect, and to prevent us from intimidating our audience with a 'perfect' persona.

I've learned a fair bit from these two speakers and am grateful that they were willing to give of their time and expertise.

Picture taken from  APTS  website

Picture taken from APTS website