Wednesday, 17 April 2013


13 weeks of classes have gone pass in a flash. I vividly remember being late on the first day of class. When I got in, everyone was doing the bingo sheet and I was lost. Aster was the first person to approach me and explain what was going on. I slowly opened up to the rest and got to know more about the people in class. If I remembered clearly, it was Jie Ying who won the ultimate prize.

After a few weeks, I was tasked to present a peer teaching lesson together with Aster. Our topic was on resume writing and cover letters. That was one of the reasons why I chose to enrol in this course. I know nothing about writing a resume or cover letter. Luckily, Aster was a graduating student and she thought me most of the stuff. From someone who knows nothing about writing resumes and cover letters, I am proud to say that I am able to write an effective cover letter and a resume now. I think the concept of peer teaching was rather effective. Not only did it allow students to internalise useful materials such as survey methods, resume writing, it also gave students a platform to present what they have learn at the same time. Albert Einstein once said: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. I guess my classmates have done a very good job with regards to peer teaching as everyone was able to deliver their materials in a simple and concise way, which I enjoy learning from.

The next milestone event was the time where we had to assume multiple roles and react during a given situation. I guess that was the point where everyone agreed that I have a talent for acting. I was so into my character that my partner thought I was really angry with her. I soon became the actor of the class. Whenever there was a need for a character, like a principal, I was first on their mind. I hope that cheered the class up and made everyone’s time in class more memorable.

The last highlight of the course was the oral presentation and proposal writing. Personally, I enjoyed the whole process from the start to the very end. It was as I completed an actual project and sealed the deal.

This course not only taught me how to speak confidently in front of crowds in all sorts of situations, but also taught me how to craft documents that are important for my career in the future. Personally, I am someone who is keen towards learning things that are beneficial and applicable in the future. I feel that education now tend to focus more on academic performance rather than important skills like communication and interaction. What is the point of having a near to perfect score when all you can do is regurgitate and memorise textbook answers?  A computer can easily do that. Something that cannot be replaced is the element of personal touch. Imagine you are a boss and you are to choose between two proposals - one has been communicated to you via email because the guy is inadequate in face to face interactions, while the other is constantly physically present to explain and clarify your doubts on the spot.  If I were you, I would definitely choose the latter for his sincerity. Furthermore, any queries will be addressed immediately compared to the first person using email.

I might have digressed a little but what I am trying to say here is that, effective communication allows ideas to be communicated easily and effectively. My biggest take away from this course is that I am now more confident of presenting in an organized, structured and effective manner in front of crowds in any context.

Anyway, this last part of the post is dedicated to Brad. Thank you for being such a wonderful teacher. You are the coolest teacher I have ever met in NUS. I really enjoyed myself during the whole duration of the course. Your feedback help me improved tremendously since day 1. It is a bitter sweet feeling knowing this coming friday will be your last ES2007 class. Sad because the course has ended and no more lively lessons. Happy because I was fortunate to be taught under you. I am sure everyone in class will agree with me that this is one of the most fulfilling class that they ever enjoyed. I hope that the class have gave you many fond memories that you will remember. With that, I end my post with a big shout out to everyone! A very big thank you to all of you for making me look forward to Tuesdays and Fridays despite them being my long day! All the best to those who are graduating and good luck to those who are still studying! ((;

Reflection On oral presentation

Last Friday, my group was tasked to give a sales pitch on the project that we have been working on. It was titled Project umbrella. It is a one stop umbrella rental service which aims to solve the unpreparedness of the NUS population in times of rain.

I had experiences in giving briefings, lessons and self- introductions, but never have I given a sales pitch. I was very nervous but excited at the same time. A small prep work that I had done on my part is going online to watch a few presentations on and reading a couple of articles with regards to presentation on Garr Reynolds website. I realise that all the talks given on were spontaneous with no script used by the speakers. This got me motivated to internalise all my content and practice spontaneous speech. I went around asking what constitutes a sales pitch. I had a unanimous answer saying that it should be one that is persuasive and convincing because what I want to achieve at the end of the day is to convince my client. They told me that in order to do that I will have to first convince myself before I could convince others. I began practicing in front of a mirror and also to one of my close friend. She really help me a lot in terms of giving tips like speaking slowly, and how I should go about engaging the audience. I also applied the power point tips I got from Garr Reynolds. For example, our group chose to express survey results with percentage figures rather than pie chart and our slides were succinct with high resolution pictures.

I was very confident of the content that I was presenting, and together with the prep work I have done, I was all set. I chose to use an informal tone while trying to relate and engage my fellow classmate because I feel that this will allow me to build a connection with them easily. After my whole group was done, I felt relieved and was pleased with my performance. My classmates’ feedback was also very encouraging. They told me that overall my presentation was persuasive and my use of non verbal cues was good. They also told me that I should be more mindful of my language as it might hamper me from expressing my ideas clearly.
Other than that, they were pleased to have seen me improve since peer teaching.

I remember that during peer teaching, I was constantly referring to the slides and using fillers like “okay” and “next”. During the final oral presentation, I cut down on that and was really pleased with what I have achieved thus far. All these would not have been possible without the help of Brad for his constructive feedback and my group members for their critique to make my presentation better.

Last but not the least, everyone in class has taught me something. Their constructive feedback allowed me to adapt and shape the best presentation technique for myself. Thank you everyone!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Evaluating Intercultural Behavior

This incident took place recently while I was having dinner with my family at our favourite restaurant. This place has never seem to have change from the time I got to know about it. What caught my eye that very day was a group of Europeans.

From the start when they entered the restaurant, i could see from their faces that they were overwhelmed by the number of people in it. They also seemed confused by the menu since it was written only in Chinese. The Chinese waiter had a hard time communicating with them. She got a bit frustrated and it did not help with the restaurant buzzing with people. I did not bother much initially as they seemed to have order and I was too hungry gobbling down my food. 

It has came to my attention that they were each serve with the amount close to what my family have ordered. People in the restaurant could be seen laughing at them. I felt that it was rather annoying and distasteful so I decided that I should help them. I stood up and walk toward them and asked if they needed any help. They were so thankful that someone actually stepped up. 

Firstly,they told me that they were not sure of the quantity and the crew was not being very helpful as they were rushing to serve the other customers. Succumbing to pressure, they just ordered what they feel like eating. Little did they know that food were meant to be shared. Upon hearing this, I quickly signalled to the crew to reduce all their orders  order so as to prevent them from ordering too much. 

I understood from them that they were from Sweden. Back there, they simply order their own share. They do not have the habit of sharing. They were here for vacation and have travelled to other Southeast Asia countries, Singapore was their last stop. Along the way, they have experienced different cultures. They were largely amused by the eating culture that Asia has. Back in their country, the only time they use their hands is when they are eating pizza or burgers but along their trip they encountered places where food are eaten with their hands. They found it quite unique. During their stay in Singapore, they also realised that people like to share their food. They made some friends along the way and have always order several dishes to share. Not long later i have to leave and they thank me profusely for my help and that made my day.

As I reflected back on this very day, I understood that different countries have their own eating styles and habits. For the case of Europeans, they tend to order just for themselves while for the Asian, we are more inclined towards sharing. I guess this culture has been passed down from Chinese culture of gratitude, where sharing is caring. I could not help but the link this incident with the video that Hiranya's group shared during peer teaching. If the crew were more helpful to them and explain to them how they should go about ordering their food such incident would not have happened. As for the group of Europeans, since they have travelled to a few Southeast Asia countries, perhaps they should have an idea of how the eating style will be like here in Singapore. This mutual understanding between different cultural eating habits will definitely result into a win-win situation for both parties.

At the end of the day, I feel that when you are in a foreign country, you should try as much as possible to assimilate into their culture, then only you will understand from their point of view why certain things are done in this way. Like what Aster has mentioned in her post: " This is part of adapting and respecting the culture of the country".

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Application Letter Critique!!

Dear fellow classmates , attached below is my application letter. The job vacancy notice can be found at this url : Have a good read and look forward to your comments.

Ang Kok Liang Jack
XXXXX Ave 10
Singapore XXXXXX

Eunice Low
Achieve Group
41 Market Street
#13-00 International Factors Building
Singapore 048944

16th February 2013

Dear Ms Low,

Admin Executive - Market Research, Statistic Collection, Data Analysis Management

I am enclosing my resume in response to your advertisement for the above job vacancy which appeared on STJOBS website on 15th February 2013.

I am currently an undergraduate in the National University of Singapore, pursuing a degree in Bachelor of Science, majoring in statistics, and is expected to graduate in May 2014. My multidisciplinary major equips me with a wide academic base in statistics, mathematics, actuarial science and computer programming. To value add to that, I have taken a great variety of electives such as French and professional communication which enable me to express myself confidently in a professional environment.

I believe that my experience in the outdoor sector have enhanced my ability of dealing with people and stress. I have coordinated a level cohort camp of 400 people which comprised of dealing with both students and teachers. This enhanced my skills of establishing good working relationship and rapport with people. Thus meeting new people to conduct interviews, field work and collection of data would be a breeze. Furthermore, my ad hoc experience with a telemarketing survey company equipped me with the necessary interpersonal skills for data collection. 

My exposure and knowledge in statistical software like R, SAS and SPSS set me apart from other potential applicants. Backed up with my proficiency in Microsoft Office, I am confident in delivering timely and reliable statistics for policy planning and analysis. I am also motivated to provide organized well- structured reports. These aligned me with the responsibilities that the job is looking for.

During my enrollment in university, I am actively involved in organizing and facilitating co-curricular activities (CCA). These include planning and executing of an overnight cross island night cycling and an amazing race where I demonstrated my strong sense of command and control, communication skills and ability to work well as a team player.  My sense of ruggedness is fortified with the experiences I have in my sport CCA where I am constantly challenge with unforeseen circumstances and intense pressure.

My work experiences in diversified environments put me at a different playing ground from other candidates.  It shaped me into a strong, motivated team player who is objective and passionate about continuous learning. My CCAs further developed my sense of discipline and ability to adapt to situations. It allow me to work well under pressure which I believe is a valuable characteristic for this job.

An opportunity to work with the client under Achieve Group would be an amazing journey for me to learn and excel. I sincerely hope you will look through my application meticulously and I look forward to a face-to-face interview to discuss further. I can be contacted via my cell (9XXX XXXX) or email ( at your convenience.

Yours sincerely,

Ang Kok Liang, Jack

Monday, 11 February 2013

#2 Resolving Interpersonal Conflict

Conflicts arise when people start taking matters into their own hands. This is largely due to the lack of communication. When people do not communicate their ideas or intentions clearly, there are bound to be instances where they get misunderstood. Unfortunately, I was caught in a situation before and I told myself I will never let history repeat again.

The incident took place during my secondary school days. I vividly remember that it was around the period when I was about to be elected as the vice-president of the students’ council. It all started out when I decided to run for that position. Firstly, I joined the students’ council because I liked the activities they were involved in. Secondly, it was a place where I can make friends from different classes and co-curriculum activities group. We hit off quite well at the start as everyone get to know more about each other. As such, I decided to run for the executive committee so that I can better contribute to the team. However, as time passed, people start showing their true colours and conflicts started to pour in.

Before the actual election, part of my assessment required me to facilitate a secondary 3 level camp as the logistics head. I was basically the logistic man in charge of ration and materials needed for stations. Alice, the operation head, was in charge of all the manpower and was holding all the keys to the rooms. One room required for a station was locked but Alice was very engage trying to sort of the manpower. I then offered to help since I had nothing to do. After opening the door, I placed the keys back on her table.
Hours later, Alice came over and asked me to return the keys. I thought she was joking with me. I told her it was not funny and I have to get back to work. She then raised her voice and demanded me to hand over the keys. She told me I was being irresponsible and destructive to her work. I was shocked as to why she has such accusation of me when I clearly return the keys and did nothing else. I brought her back to table and found the keys lying underneath a stack of paper. She was not remorseful at all after the key was found even though she knew that it was clearly her fault. This incident strained our friendship. A close friend of mine then told me she started spreading rumors about how irresponsible I am. People in the committee started to doubt my ability and my capability of being a vice-president. I was devastated and demoralized  I did not know what to do at the point in time. I wanted to give up. I asked myself what I have done to receive such treatment. 

However, after much thought, I decided to confront the problem. I had a personal chat with Alice and I was shocked as to what I have found out from her. I realized that some people who were jealous of me told Alice that I was irresponsible, thus she jumped straight into the conclusion that I did not return the keys after not seeing them on her table. I explained to her the whole incident and how I felt about the false accusations. She apologized for jumping into conclusion and spreading those false rumors.

Eventually, the air was cleared and those who were spreading rumors about me being irresponsible were removed from the council. I went on to assume my position and was well-liked by my peers. Whenever I looked back at this incident, I always ask myself what if I were to just walked away and leave the council. What if you were me, what would you have done?  
I guessed everyone has their own way to handle such situation, for me, I chose to confront the conflict. It all boils down to communication. If I have told Alice and signaled to her that I have already returned the keys, the incident would not have happened. Different people have different interpretation of stuff around them. They just have to communicate in order to prevent misunderstanding.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Why are effective communication skills important to me?

Communication is the method of disseminating information, exchanging of messages and ideas via verbal and non-verbal actions. It is also a key to maintaining a healthy relationship with friends, loved ones and colleagues.What I would like to focus on is effective communication, which involves communicating with others with the right technique without being misunderstood.

Personally, effective communication skills such as being able to give clear, concise instructions are important. They ensures that everyone is on the same frequency as me, know exactly what I am talking about and how exactly things should be done. This shows that what I want to say is plan beforehand and I am confident of what I am delivering. This is something that I have learned during my job as a secondary school camp instructor. Clear and concise instructions have to be given so that safety is not compromised. I address key values like teamwork and communication which they learn from the team building activities with their experiences in school.

Different contexts require different forms of communication. For example, if I were to give an expedition briefing to secondary school students, I know exactly how it should be done. It should be delivered in a jovial way so as not to bore the participants, yet ensuring that my message still get across.  However, if I were tasked to pitch a business proposal in front of a board of directors, I would have no clue as of how I should go about doing it. This is why i choose to enroll into this module as I hope it will equip me with the necessary skills for my career in future.

All in all, from the first two lessons, I have learnt that effective communication is not just a linear model, but also a continuous cycle which consist of not just talking but active listening as well. I have picked up some useful pointers like questioning techniques and how I should structure my ideas before presenting it to others. One thing I learn as I type this blog post is that always aim to be to the point, concise and avoid lengthy sentences. Imagine something like "Jane is sitting in the corner quietly because she is starving" as compared to "The lonely girl in the corner of the room, with sadness etched across her face,silence enveloping her,felt helpless as pangs of hunger hit her". Although the latter still gets the message across but it is a mouthful to read. This is what effective communication really is about, being able to communicate with others in clear, concise sentences without having to fear of being misunderstood. I look forward to learning more from the modules together with my fellow classmates.