Speech Contest Cheat book

Speech contests are one of the most crucial parts of a toastmaster’s journey. I joined the contest twice since I came to China and gained a lot of insights into the process of speech preparation, delivery, revision, and improvement. In this post, I am going to share my experiences while bifurcating each of the judging criteria’s which are used by the contest judges. Why use the judging criteria? Because we need to understand the requirements before we try to fulfill them. We need to understand the gaps between our current performance and the one expected by judges. For doing so, we need to do a lot of trials. I like the Chinese proverb that says, “玉不琢、不成器” i.e. A gem is not polished without rubbing, nor a man perfected without trials.

1) Speech Development

Let’s start with the one with maximum weightage. Speech development includes structure, organization and supporting material. If you want to learn how to structure, organize and support your speech, follow your manuals. My cheat book tip is to choose a topic that you are most familiar with. The more familiar you are with the topic, the better your speech development will be. If you feel like your life does not have enough interesting events to write a speech about, think again and include every single thing that happens with you or that you observer during a day. We can make at least 10 different observations during our daily commute.

2) Effectiveness

This includes the achievement of purpose, interest, and reception. All these points boil down to the fact that you have to entertain the audience, you have to grab their attention and make them remember your speech. You can do this using voice modulation and body language. My cheat book tip is to use reiteration and reassurance. If you borrowed money from someone and told him only once that you will return it. On the other hand, if you reiterated your promise several times and kept reassuring the person that you will definitely return it on time you can create a sense of trust. Same goes with the audience who needs to trust you. So don’t forget to reassure them and repeat the things you want them to remember.

3) Speech Value

This includes ideas, logic and original thought. My cheat book tip for this section is to first finalize the stories you are planning to share and than link them together with a proper transition. Your transitions should be logical and feel natural. This requires a bit of creative writing for which you can refer to online tutorials of screenplay writing. It will help you understand how to transition using sentence that maintain the original thought.

4) Physical

This includes appearance, body language and speaking area. The first time I attended the contest in India, I did not wear a tie. After the contest, one of the experienced toasmasters told me that I should have worn the tie and use my best appearance on stage. My cheat book tip for this section is to always wear formals unless your speech topic requires a specific attire/costume.

5) Voice

This includes flexibility and volume. My cheat book tip for this section is to practice the speech in front of mirror and exaggerate every emotion that you have. Using your emotions is the best way to produce a natural yet flexible voice.

6) Manner

This includes directness, assurance and enthusiasm. My tip for this section is to select a topic that is close to your heart. If you truly believe in the idea that you are sharing, your enthusiasm will naturally be more. If you don’t feel the connect with your topic, try watching more videos, reading more articles, learning more facts about it to bring it closer to your heart. We get interested in things that we read about, that we talk about and that we like sharing with others. If you can read and talk about your topic without getting bored, that means it’s the right topic for you.

7) Appropriatenes

This includes purpose and audience. My tip for this section is to study your audience. Not just in the way suggested by the manuals, but also by any other means possible. Connect with fellow toastmasters using social networks like wechat. Instead of rote learning your speech, go and say hi to the members of your audience. Try to learn more about them, their profession and their hobbies. These connections will help you a lot while you are delivering the speech on stage.

8) Correctness

This includes grammar, pronunciation and word selection. My tip for this section is to only use the words that you can describe with confidence. It doesn’t meant that you should not include any difficult or complex words at all. It means that you should be able to describe those words in your own manner. For instance the word misunderstanding can be remember by creating a funny backdrop story like misunderstanding -> “Miss under standing” -> “The lady is standing downstairs” -> “The lady is standing downstairs since her heels are so hight that she can’t climb the stairs. You are unable to understand why can’t she simply remove the heels? “
By making such funny stories, you can remember even the most difficult words and can even explain them if required. (in your own funny way).

If you wish to read more of such articles, don’t forget to follow me on LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/kushalashok

Tips for a Prepared Speech at Toastmasters

Sharing a few tips for prepared speeches at Toastmasters. This video was part of the project called “Instructing on the Internet” from “Communicating on Video” Manual.
[vid site=”youku” id=”XMzY3NzI0MzQyMA==”]

Top 3 reasons for buying an iPhone X — “One more thing” at Apple’s September 2017 event

It’s around 4 AM in Shanghai and I have been up watching Apple’s September event which took place at Steve Jobs Theater, and was streamed live. Though I did enjoy the announcements and demos related to other products like Apple Watch as well, I am writing this post to share with you, my top 3 reasons for buying an iPhone X; despite of it’s high price.

iPhone X

Reason 1: Face ID

I have been reading the rumors and watching Youtube videos that rediculed this feature of the new iPhone X, but I was right to wait for the actual announcement where it got explained in more detail. If there is one thing that Apple has been able to convince the masses about; it’s security. So all those videos of people wearing a mask and making fun of this feature can literally be laughed at, once we read about the underlying technology and the kind of testing that has been performed by the engineers at Apple. Simply put in numbers, it is 20 times more secure than touch ID.

Just last week, one of my acquaintances asked me, “What if I pass out at a bar, and someone uses my thumb to unlock the phone and transfer all my money while I lay unconscious?”. Well, I bet opening the eyes of such a victim would be far more difficult than forcing his or her thumb.

In terms of accessibility, I think Face ID is going to open a whole new avenue for people with disabilities.

Reason 2: Wireless Charging

From removal of the headphone jack, to removal of the home button, Apple has been making things cleaner and getting rid of all the moving parts. From my perspective, a machine with more movable parts is subject to more wear and tear. I like the haptic feedback based home button in iPhone 7, which feels far better than the traditional home button. Now with an all new glass design (the most durable glass ever in a smartphone, front and back. Surgical‑grade stainless steel), iPhone X allows wireless charging which is a game changer for many Apple fans.

After visiting manufacturing hubs like Huaqiangbei in Shenzhen, I am pretty sure that other companies would soon be manufacturing products like AirPower Mats to help Apple users charge their devices wirelessly (probably before the actual 2018 launch of mats by Apple).

Reason 3: A11 Bionic Chip

To put it in simple terms, other than being faster and smarter while still providing slightly better battery life, this new chip would allow you to make use of features like machine learning (Face ID is one of it’s implementation), augmented reality (enjoy many AR games like Pokemon Go), animoji and real depth selfies (the new true depth camera along with A11 Bionic chip can analyze more than 50 of your muscle movements and create impressive photo effects)

These are my top 3 reasons, what are yours? Please do share them via comments.

P.S.- Say hello to the future 🙂

You can also checkout the Hands-on video by engadget:

Why freelancing is lucrative for developers?

If you are an experienced developer or any individual who have access to Youtube / MOOCs and strong willpower to learn, this post is for you.

I have been working as a software developer since I graduated from college and it has been 5 years now. I did some freelancing during college days but it did not involve any serious engagements like signing the NDA or any other contract. Now that I have worked at one of the largest IT companies in India, I am looking at freelancing with quite a different perspective. It is no longer considered a hobby which helps me earn some pocket money. If done right, I can earn much more than my salary as a full-time employee. (no kidding)

I am writing this post to help us understand why freelancing is lucrative for developers and I would like to start with some simple figures. At most of the software companies, when you join as a full-time employee you agree to get paid a fixed amount every month, irrespective of the number of projects you complete. Now every resource / developer is having a billing rate that is sometimes shared with the client while estimating. If you can learn your billing rate and multiply it by the number of hours you have put in, you will realise that you have been swindled. But that is not entirely true since your employer is taking a risk for you and providing you security. Even if the project fails due to some reason, you still get your monthly salary.

Now that we have a fair idea in terms of numbers, lets dive in. If you can manage the projects on your own and have enough skills to develop a product based on client requirements, freelancing would indeed by quite lucrative. Following are a few pros and cons.

Pros:

  1. Get paid for your work genuinely as per the market standard and your skillset.
  2. Have complete right over your work.
  3. No time to be spent on transport. (Some of us get hustled in the subway)
  4. Can spend more time with family and plan trips on any day of the week.
  5. Have liberty to make important decisions and learn from your mistakes.
  6. Your advice and expertise is valued.
  7. Your income is not dependent on your appraisal but only on your work.
  8. You still get to improve interpersonal skills by communicating directly with your clients.
  9. You earn a reputation in the market and you are an asset to your clients.
  10. You can work on the technologies that you like.

Cons:

  1. You have to have enough work in pipeline to earn minimum wages.
  2. You can not afford to make too many mistakes.
  3. You need to plan everything in advance and be ready for worst case scenarios.

Recently I found a perfect solution to having enough work in pipeline. Even though there are many freelancing portals online, they do not have the required screening system in place to make it authentic. I strongly suggest Toptal to all the potential freelancers reading this post. It has a well defined interview process which helps in ensuring that your expertise level is as per your claims. This not only helps the clients but also the freelancers, since they can now focus on the right set of clients while getting rid of the noise.

I am sure you have come across those ads which claim that you can become a billionaire while working from home using internet, well you can make it possible on your own. I hope this post has answered the question fairly.

If you are interested in mobile application development, keep reading:

I have developed enough mobile applications from scratch to have the required confidence when someone asks me if his/her new app idea can actually be developed as a product. Well there are thousands of apps in the market and mobile apps have become more important in our lives than brushing our teeth daily. If you perform a quick search online, or even attend a meet-up or social gathering, you will learn that almost everyone has got multiple ideas for developing an app. Now some of these ideas might be good while some could be trivial, but if you have the right skills to create an app, any of these apps could become successful.

I have keen interest in iOS applications and I like to follow WWDC as well as popular blogs like raywenderlich. Even the app with simplest solution can gain a lot of customers if it is intuitive and bug free. In David Murphy’s words, the future of mobile is the future of online. That is why, I have specific interest in joining the Mobile App Programmers Network.

How to get PAN card and Aadhar card for a Bhutanese Foreigner in India?

As an Indian citizen, getting a PAN card can be the most hassle free process you would ever encounter with Indian Government. But this post has been written to help foreigners.

At the time of writing, the UTI website provides a separate option for applying PAN card for foreigners. You can check the list of documents required as well as the guidelines for application. In most cases, foreigners would like to use their Passport as their proof of identity and there are different options mentioned for providing proof of residence in India. Since Bhutanese citizens do not require a residence permit or a VISA to enter India, the most efficient way of getting a reliable address proof is opening a bank account, preferably with a government owned (State bank of India) or state-owned bank (Punjab National Bank).

Following are the things you need for generating your proof of residence via bank:

  1. A friend or relative who already has an account in the bank and is ready to be your reference.
  2. A rent agreement made between you and your landlord or any other document accepted by the bank as proof of address.
  3. You may also need to affix your photograph on the passbook and get it stamped by the bank.

Once you have your bank account functional, make sure you keep it active by making some transactions and then use the copy of your passbook as proof of residence.

Now that you have your proof of residence and identity, there should be no problem in getting yourself a PAN card or Aadhar card. You can check the UIDAI website for getting more details about Aadhar enrolment. Also, note that some of the enrollment centers may not be listed online and it is better to ask around in your locality if there are any centers nearby.

I understand that writing a post after simply going through the rule book does not work as a great advice most of the times. But this post has been written after personally following the whole process and getting the desired results. If you find that some of these steps could be skipped or there is a better way of getting the PAN and Aadhar card in India as a foreigner, please do share your findings via comments.

P.S.: You don’t need to open a bank account for getting Aadhar card since rent agreement is accepted as proof of address, but it is always better to have an account handy for future purposes.

Disclaimer: This post has been written based on personal experience and beliefs and may not be treated as a solution or proven theory. Please do your own research before taking any action that invites doubt.

The way forward for technology: Drones and Automation

Automation has been a field of interest since many years now. From automated emails to cars, we as humans have achieved a lot and have been using these technologies for getting things done faster and more accurately. But what else are we looking at? How are we going to move forward? In this article I will be mentioning the missing links by taking an example of Drones.
Drones are available online for as low as 4000 INR and many individuals have started showing interest in them. But is it legal to fly a drone anywhere you like? Can we feel safe while these machines are hovering above our head? Let’s answer these questions one by one.
With the advent of technology, we can now control drones with our iPhones or iPods and it does not require a lot of practice and patience to get the flying skills. But many people don’t realize that they can face serious legal charges if they end up flying in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even if we are ok with the fines, we have to understand that machines are not perfect and things can go wrong with them. So the answer to the first question is no, it is not legal to fly drones anywhere you like.
In terms of hurting people, drones can be considered as flying lawn mowers. Also, since they allow us to record and stream videos they can be a serious threat to privacy. Thus, as of today it is difficult for us to feel safe with drones.
So how are we going to move forward? Every new technology has got its drawbacks and can always be exploited in a negative way. But this does not mean that we should stop inventing. Companies like Google and Amazon have already started exploring the options for using drones to deliver mails and packages. I am sure you must have heard about the 30 minutes Pizza delivery service. The future services might get anything within a certain weight limit, delivered to your door stop within 30 minutes. This has already been tested by Amazon and they are excited to launch Amazon Prime Air which may look like science fiction, but it’s real. These drones will be flying under 400 feet and will make use of sense and avoid technology which comes with intense automation to ensure safety.

Amazon prime air drone picture
When cars were first invented, people had so many objections. The suggestions which were made were mostly bizarre, like every car should have a man walking in front with a red flag. And these debates did not stop until the government decided that cars are good for the society and we should have more of them. That is when roads were constructed and traffic rules got defined. Same should be the case with drones or any other invention that is useful for the mankind. So, let’s collaborate and find the right balance for future.

How to book an Uber cab from your browser?

I was trying to book a cab from my mobile app while using Vodafone 2G and realized that things were going very slow, that is when I realized that I should try it from my computer which was connected to a LAN.

Following are the steps with screenshots which will help you book an UBER cab quickly:

STEP 1: Go to https://m.uber.com/

Login page uber mobile

 

STEP 2: Enter your Uber credentials and tap on Done button (top right corner; refer previous screenshot)

NEW USERS: Make sure you claim your free ride by signing up through this link and using the promo code: “UBERKUSHALASHOK“.

Quick Tip: If you sign up from Uber mobile app, you can use your PAYTM wallet for authentication instead of providing any credit card details.

App Available at: Google Play StoreApple App Store and Windows App Store.

Download app

STEP 3: Click on the the PICKUP LOCATION text circled in the screenshot below to be able to search your pick up location.

How to pick up a location

 

STEP 4: Type in the location details in the search box and choose the desired option from the dropdown.

Choose location

STEP 5: Use the slider available at the bottom to choose the kind of cab you need and then click on “Set Pickup Location”

Set pickup location

 

STEP 6: Make sure that the pick up location is correct and the use credits option is checked or un-checked as per your requirement and then click on “Request pickup here XXXX” button.

NOTE: Make sure that you do this only when you are ready for the cab. If you try to cancel your request after 5 mins, you will have to pay some amount. Also, if you keep the driver waiting you will be charged accordingly.

Request an uber

STEP 7: (OPTIONAL) In case you need to cancel a request, this screenshot will help you find the option quickly. The option is available at the bottom right corner on clicking which you will get a menu. Select “Cancel Trip” to cancel your request.

cancel uber request