Who's making New Year's Resolutions? Raise your hands.

Whether you are making resolutions or not, I urge you to seriously consider becoming a Toastmaster. That means being part of this global organization called Toastmasters International. That means making the investment in time, money, and effort to be a better communicator and leader than you already are. Follow this advice and this time next year, you'll be wondering why you didn't do this sooner.

Why should you become a Toastmaster? Here are three good reasons why:

You will expand your NETWORK.
You will increase your NET WORTH.

Expanding Your Network

Within the first few months that I was an active Toastmaster, I landed a training gig in a top multinational corporation. A guest in one of our meetings asked me to coach him in language proficiency. I considered that pretty good ROI for the membership dues I paid the club. And I have the club to thank for exposing me to a network of potential clients, suppliers, mentors, friends.

Every Toastmasters Club has a roster of at least 20 members. Multiply that by more than 150 clubs in the Philippines, where there are year round activities to allow you to rub elbows with different people from different industries. Consider too that there are thousands of clubs all over the world. By any standards, that is a pretty vast network. It is up to you to get the most out of that network by being as active and friendly as you can be.

Though using Toastmasters activities for blatant selling and guerrilla tactic marketing (the equivalent of spamming) is frowned upon, you can build up your image by volunteering to host events, visiting clubs as an evaluator, and excelling in speaking contests. These are more subtle, less offensive, and certainly more effective ways of showing off your talents and building up your name recall without doing any hard sell.

Networks are not limited to professional contacts. The friendships that have grown out of my Toastmasters experience are rich and thriving. These are friendships with people who want to use their time productively, who share my desire for lifelong learning and continuous development. These are people who know how to have fun. Friends who have taught me so much more beyond just communication.

Increasing Your Net Worth

Joining Toastmasters for the first time - US$20.00
Approximate Annual Membership fee - PhP5,000.00
Competency Development and Growing Self Confidence - Priceless

I can honestly say that I'm a better person, better speaker, better writer, better communicator, better leader than I was when I started in my Toastmasters journey. Our club, Butter N Toast Toastmasters Club, values lifelong learning and aims to make that possible by providing a fun, motivating environment. It's hard to think of a better investment in self development than Toastmasters.

Our members who are entrepreneurs come into the club even when it seems like they don't need to be a Toastmaster in their career. They can put their money elsewhere, but they see the value in developing their skills and confidence.

Learning in an Environment that is Not Work

If the first two reasons have not convinced you yet, then this could be the one to cinch the deal. Toastmasters is not a have-to. For me, it's a want-to. No matter how busy my schedule gets, I need to be there in the twice-a-month meetings. It's a break from the tedium of work. It's a great, productive way to be entertained. And I can mess up without worrying about getting fired. It's a laboratory to experiment with new behaviors and to take risks. Mistakes are not going to affect my career.

But the learning and all the benefits are sure to make me better in my career as well as in my personal life.

2009 is predicted to be a tough year -- one that can challenge us in many ways. I encourage you to take the Toastmasters challenge.

Ho, ho, ho!

The Grammar Pulis lays down her magnifying glass for the next few days to give everyone a break. Go ahead and commit grammar mistakes because no one's watching who's being good with the commas and bad with the tenses.

Relax. Enjoy the vacation. Cherish your moments with your families and friends.

I wish you all a meaningful and merry Christmas!


I got this through e-mail. Unfortunately, I can't find the source of this highly amusing piece.


We' ve been friends for a long time ago. We come from the same alma mother. Actually, our paths crossed one time on another. But it's only now that I gave him a second look. I realized that beauty is in the eyes. The pulpbits of my heart went fast, really fast. Cute pala siya. And then, he came over with me. He said, "I hope you don't mine. Can I get your number?" Nag-worry ako. What if he doesn't give it back? He explained naman na it's so we could keep intact daw. Sabi ko, connect me if i'm wrong but are you asking me ouch? Nabigla siya. Sagot niya, The! Aba! Parang siya pa ang galit! Persona ingrata!!! Ang kapal niya! I cried buckles of tears.

Na-guilty yata siya. Sabi niya, isipin mo na lang na this is a blessing in the sky. Irregardless daw of his feelings, we'll go ouch na rin. Now, we're so in love. Mute and epidemic na ang past. Thanks God we swallowed our fried. Kasi, I'm 33 na and I'm running our time. After 2 weeks, he plopped the question. "Will you marriage me?" I'm in a state of shocked. Kasi mantakin mo, when it rains, it's four! This is true good to be true. So siyempre, I said yes. Love is a many splendor.

Pero nung inaayos ko na ang aming kasal, everything swell to pieces. Nag-di-dinner kami noon nang biglang sa harap ng aming table, may babaeng humirit ng, "Well, well, well. Look do we have here." What the fuss! The nerd ng babaeng yon! She said they were still on. So I told her, whatever is that, cut me some slacks! I didn't want this to get our hand kaya I had to sip it in the bud. She accused me of steeling her boyfriend. Ats if! I don't want to portrait the role of the other woman. Gosh, tell me to the marines! I told her, "please, mine you own business!" Who would believe her anyway?

Dahil it's not my problem anymore but her problem anymore, tumigil na rin siya ng panggugulo. Everything is coming up daisies. I'm so happy. Even my boyfriend said liketwice. He's so supportive. Sabi niya, "Look at is this way. She's our of our lives."

Kaya advise ko sa inyo - take the risk. You can never can tell. Just burn the bridge when you get there. Life is shorts. If you make a mistake, we'll just pray for the internal and external repose of your soul. I second emotion.

"Blahblahblah Corporation is a manufacturing and importing company established 50 years ago. We have served clients from the Philippine's Top 500 companies. We are proud of the many awards our company has reaped including the Top Exporter Award in 1998."

What's wrong with these statements? Grammatically, there is nothing wrong with them. But if they are part of a company profile write-up attached to a proposal or quotation, then those are three sentences that serve no purpose except to show a bloated corporate ego and do nothing to help persuade your clients.

Will the fact that your company has been in existence for 50 years help your potential customers decrease costs, improve efficiency, increase profit? Will the Purchasing Manager reading this paragraph feel that your proposal would make his job easier, make him feel better, be better, and do better? What needs of your clients are served by the factoid that you won an award 10 years ago?

I'm not saying that your company's tenure and awards don't matter. In persuasion, credibility is also key. But to be truly persuasive, you need to answer your reader's unspoken question: "What's in it for me?"

Here's how we can rework the self-serving and ultra-boring statement:

"You can be part of a list of of Blahblahblah Corporation's satisfied customers. Since 1958, we have been helping clients like you from small to large enterprises improve efficiency and increase profits by providing top quality products and services at the lowest possible prices. In 2007, our client, TestimonyInc. decreased their costs by 32% while increasing their profit by 42%. Our website lists down a number of awards we have won through the years. But the greatest award for us is satisfying you, our client."

Here's why the latter paragraph can be more persuasive. First off, you defocus your attention from you and your organization's need to brag. And you have focused on the needs of your readers and how your organization can satisfy those needs. In terms of language, simply shifting from the writer-focused first person (I, We, Our) to the reader-focused You or Your can alter the tone of your writing to be more interesting and convincing to your potential clients.

Remember, in persuasive writing, the second person is better and more effective than first.

I remember writing class back in grade school. Sister Maria Mercedes would ask us to write an essay about our summer vacation in 500 words or more. And so even if all I did that summer was watch TV and reorganize the pantry by arranging the canned goods in alphabetical order, I had to come up with a long-winded, adjective and adverb filled piece that Sister Maria Mercedes probably read as a replacement for sleeping pills.

Sadly, this nation produced generations of students who cared more about reaching their 500-word quotas than coming up with clear, concise, creative writing. Back then that kind of writing was called flowery. Today I call it an environmental crime; a waste of dead trees, ink, and teachers’ caffeine allowances.

To this day, students still attempt to please their teachers and readers by using their arsenal of sentence lengtheners – adverbs, prepositional phrases, interjections, and a million ways to say, “She said” –- “she enthusiastically exclaimed,” “she immediately uttered with a loud gasp of breath.”

One supposedly clever device is the phrase, “in order to.”
- In order to reduce our costs, we will limit employees’ use of the toilet to once a day.
- In order to meet his sales quota, Danny agreed to sell his soul.
- Sign on this order form in order to order your order.

Let’s arrest verbosity. Clear and concise writing is more effective. It also saves trees, bandwidth, and time. Delete the words “in order” and just write “to.”
- To reduce our costs, we will limit employees’ use of the toilet to once a day.
- To meet his sales quota, Danny agreed to sell his soul.
- Sign on this form to confirm your order.

Sister Maria Mercedes is no longer counting words. Neither should we. It’s more important to use fewer words, but let each word count.

Hilarious look/listen at Pinglish.


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