Saturday, October 27, 2007

Jakarta Art Teachers & I

On Words

Jakarta Art Teachers & I


Jakarta – Picasso famously said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

Each day, art teacher Neil Bunting works at solving this problem with his dedication in his international school’s classroom and through the organization he founded, Jakarta Art Teachers & I.

Formed two years ago this November, JATI was, like much in the art world, crafted out of a sense of anxiety and loneliness.

Bunting, who has lived in Jakarta since 2002, recalls in a written interview, “I first thought of an arts organization in 2004. I felt as an art teacher, and an artist, I was living in a state of cultural disconnectedness and desperately needed to forge links with other schools, teachers and people connected with the arts.”

JATI’s inaugural meeting in 2005 was attended by five international-school art teachers. These initial members were enthused by JATI’s dream and spread its message and now around 20 members from thirteen schools take part in each meeting.

In addition to the monthly meetings the members are in near daily contact with one another in order to bounce ideas around and share practical information about such things as exhibitions of interest and where to buy art equipment. “The organization has made significant progress during the last two years,” says Bunting.

Open to all Indonesian schools, JATI promotes the values of expression, individuality, and creativity. Bunting explains that the organization “encourages collaboration and sharing of expertise between art educators, facilitators and anybody who cares passionately about the visual arts” by developing and promoting art through exhibitions, workshops and all kinds of artistic relationships between students and teachers.

Bunting says that it is key to JATI’s vision that local, national and international schools are involved, “This is imperative. The organization is not simply an international school organization. Many of our schools use the International Baccalaureate curriculum. To apply the philosophies of IB we must involve Indonesian schools. This is not just about paying lip service to a school curriculum. This about doing what is right—walking the walk.”

“We,” Bunting continues, “are still striving to involve Indonesian schools and the local community more. We want Indonesian art teachers to take a more active role and we are seeking to not make them feel alienated in any way by producing our minutes and agendas and statements in Bahasa and English.”

Past workshops have featured stations teaching a variety of techniques from book-binding to chocolate moulds and transcriptions in mixed media to printmaking and watercolor painting.

Both students and teachers are encouraged to stretch, to grow at JATI workshops. The students experience new techniques and ideas while the teachers are able practice team-teaching methods and observe their peers at work.

JATI continually strives to create and maintain mutually supportive working environments. Bunting believes its members understand that in order to be creative, the fear of mistakes must be abolished.

Bunting says, “Workshops are particularly beneficial for students from less well resourced schools, who, for example, have never had the opportunity to use a printing press or be involved in photographic processes.”

The new year should be fruitful for the club. Bunting and JATI colleague Dave White are hard at work securing a location for JATI’s next exhibition. Showcasing the work of students of all ages from the organization’s 13 schools, Bunting promises the show will be "huge."

This next exhibition is just a step. Bunting says, “"JATI will go from strength to strength. There will be more exhibitions, workshops and opportunities for the art community.”

For further information about JATI, visit its website at, email the organization at or telephone Neil Bunting at +62 813 10921265.

This article was originally published in The Jakarta Post.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Public Speaking: Rehearsing and Giving the Speech


Rehearsing and Giving the Speech


Jakarta – The moment has arrived, for today, we rehearse and we give our speech.

First of all, as we prepare to conquer our oratory fear, we need to remember that the key is in the preparation. It is as coaches preach, “You play as you practice.”

Confidence in front of your audience comes from complete familiarity with your material. Tentativeness and an over-reliance on notes rob you of your confidence and therefore your credibility.

As you practice your speech, you need to remember where your signal words are. How did you organize your speech? What are the most important points? Once you understand and are fully acquainted with the skeleton of your speech you will be more capable of presenting it in a natural manner.

Mind-mapping, also called clustering, brainstorming and a whole list of other names, is one effective way of memorizing your speech’s notes due to its visual nature.

To mind map, you begin by writing your subject in the middle of a blank sheet of paper. You next circle the subject and then write your main ideas radiating out from the circled central-subject. From these main ideas you branch out your supporting details. Once you have finished, you are left with a series of webs that clearly delineate the relationships between the subject, its main ideas and their supporting details. Some people feel that color coding the map by order of importance is of further help.

After you have memorized your speech using whichever mnemonic techniques you are comfortable with, you will need to rehearse it. At first it is fine for you to practice with your note-cards, but eventually you want to be able to deliver your speech without them, only having them on hand in case of emergency.

When you begin to practice aloud you may initially feel awkward. After all, for most of us, it is not natural to speak all alone. What you should aim for is the ability to give your presentation in a conversational, normal manner. As you give yourself feedback on your rehearsals, ask yourself if you appear natural. Drill and drill until the speech becomes second nature.

Where are you going to give your speech? Are you going to use any sound or lighting equipment? If so, try to get practice time in the actual venue and with the equipment that you will be using. The time to first hear your own amplified voice is not when you are parting your lips in front of the audience.

When the occasion to give your speech arrives, there are a number of tips for you to keep in mind.

Most importantly, you need to remember that you are ready. You are completely prepared and it is you who knows your material the best. Next, you need to always bear in mind that the audience is there for you. They want to go on your journey with you. They are not looking for faults; they want you to succeed.

You want to speak to friends, not strangers. The international nonprofit organization Toastmasters suggests you greet members of the audience as they arrive. This gives you the chance to “Know your audience” and in turn boosts your credibility.

During your speech it is helpful for you to look out over the audience and make eye contact with individuals. This calms your nerves and in turn puts your listeners at ease.

As OnWords’ final public speaking column comes to a close, I would like to ask you a few questions. What public speakers do you admire? Why do they appeal to you? Is one of their main strengths that they seem to belong on stage? That they are natural speakers? I am guessing your answer to these last two queries is, yes.

What we all need to keep in mind is that when we are observing those gifted speakers, we are witnessing just the tip of a long process that involves writing, editing, and a whole lot of practicing. They have put in the time perfecting this skill so that it does in fact become natural. The good news for all of us is that we too can work at public speaking. We too can transform it into an activity we come to enjoy.

For information on how to join Toastmasters or on how to even start a chapter within your company or group please contact Kebayoran Toastmasters’ Vice President (membership), Monica Sugiarto, at 062818155119 or Toastmasters also has a website,, loaded with public speaking tips and membership information.

Until next column,

Happy Speaking,


This article was originally published in The Jakarta Post.

Public Speaking: Clearing the Mud


The Speech: Clearing the Mud


Jakarta – Now that you have finished your speech’s draft, it is time to tighten it up. You do this by going through your writing and weeding out the clutter.

During this phase, it is helpful for you to keep in mind that your primary goal is simply to communicate your message. Show no mercy when it comes to editing your speech; it is dangerous to fall in love with your own language skills.

The following points will help you while you edit.

Adjectives deaden. “Show, don’t tell,” is the old axiom. Adjectives, words such as pretty, good, best, important, do not tell the listeners much about your subject. They just tell the audience how you feel about the subject.

Have you ever asked your kid how school was and all you receive in return is a reply of “good?” Of course you have. All parents have. Why is this common answer so frustrating? Because, what we want to learn are the hows and whys of our children’s days, not just that they are good or bad or awright. Your audience is no different. An over-reliance on adjectives keeps your listeners from going on the thinking journey with you.

Awaken the senses. Can you see, taste, feel what you are trying to say? If you cannot, neither can your listeners. The noun happiness is just a word, an abstraction, an idea. It is no stronger than an adjective. A warm puppy, coffee served in bed, a phone call from an old friend, those are all concrete ingredients that make up the experience of happiness. By replacing telling words, adjectives and abstractions, with concrete details, that is showing words, your listeners experience your speech.

Public groping is distasteful. When you have got something to say, say it! Do not stand in front of all, reaching for meaning as you try to clarify your position. Phrases such as, “What I’d like to say…” and “What I’m trying to get across today is….” only tell the audience that you do not understand your own message. By having chosen a subject and focus that you believe in, you can avoid these trust-killing phrases and stick with the concrete details audiences thrive in.

Confidence. Before your listeners can believe in you, you must believe in yourself. Saying, “I feel that…” or “In my opinion it’s clear that …” weakens both you and your message. If you do not feel it, do not say it. Your audience understands that what you say is what you believe.

If you need to share someone else’s thoughts, attribute them to that person so that your own message maintains its integrity.

Which sentence is the strongest from the following four examples?

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are an underrated band.

I believe that the Red Hot Chili Peppers are an underrated band.

You need to understand that The Red Hot Chili Peppers are an underrated band.

He feels The Red Hot Chili Peppers are an underrated band.

The first sentence is the most powerful since it is stated as a fact. There is no belief, no feeling, no wiggle room involved in the declaration. When speaking this is the most effective format to follow.

Stop on and ons. Many of my students love to use etc… This is wrong. When you want to give a list, give the list. Then stop that list concisely with your final item. Your listeners do not need to hear “etcetera” or “and so on.” Keep your message clear, by just sticking to your message.

Repeat by repeating. During your introduction and your closing you will wish to restate your thesis. Also, throughout your speech you will need to reinforce your speech’s main ideas and theme. However, it is important for you to do so without muddying your words with things like “Let me reiterate now…” and “Once again, I need to stress…” When you need to restate, do it. Do not ask for permission, do not explain. If your message is clear and strong, your listeners will be smart enough to follow.

In the next OnWords, our final installment in the public speaking series, we will go over rehearsal techniques and tips for the actual presentation.

Until then,

Happy editing,


This article was originally published in The Jakarta Post.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Speech Writing

On Words

Speech Writing


JakartaOnWords’ last column went over the importance of a speech’s subject, purpose, audience and occasion. Today, we will explore speech writing.

First of all, we need to realize that while there are commonalities in all forms of writing, the fact that a speech is heard, not seen, presents us with some unique challenges.

A reader is able to highlight important details, reread complicated passages and even take breaks. The listeners of your speech will not have these liberties. They will just have a single go at it and it is up to you, the speech writer, to craft a message that is both comprehendible and interesting. You have got to write something that is as listener-friendly as possible.

To help your listeners, it is important that your speech has a theme that can be referred to again and again. The theme will largely be determined by your speech’s subject, purpose, audience and occasion. It is the single thought you would like to leave your audience with.

If the subject of your speech is “success” then perhaps your theme could be “never giving up on your dreams.” This gives your subject a focus and provides your audience one easily remembered point.

After you have chosen your theme, organizing the speech is a pretty straight-forward affair. There are three main parts to a speech: the introduction, the body and the conclusion.

Beginning the speech writing process with an outline is a good idea since it provides you with a visual layout that is easy to remember. While you build your outline you need to remember to come back to your theme at the end of each main supporting idea.

Once the outline is finished, the time to write the speech arrives. The introduction needs to jump right into the action by stating your theme and then giving a preview of your talk. This will provide your listeners with a clearly demarcated path.

The introduction should say something like, “Today we are going to discuss three ways in which never giving up on your dreams leads to success. First, … Second, … Third, …” These words, “First, Second” and “Third,” act as signposts which lead your audience where you would like them to go.

When it comes to speaking, simple is beautiful. A speech’s sentences need to be precise and short. If you use complicated sentences you run the risk of losing the audience. Generally speaking, more complicated subjects demand more concise structures. Specialist vocabulary and acronyms need to either be avoided or explained in full.

Pronouns present a danger too. They can be difficult on the listener. It can be tough trying to keep tract of what “it” or “this” or “he” refers to. In speeches it is usually best to stick with concrete nouns.

Transitions are especially important in speech writing. As mentioned above, these are your speech’s signposts. By the proper use of words such as “but,” “however” and “despite” listeners know that a contradiction is on its way; while using “additionally” and “another point is…” informs the audience that you are about to buttress your position.

Do not be a statistics slave. Only present the most salient factual details that support your theme. This is the information that listeners are not going to easily forget. Your audience can get lost if you throw too many numbers and data at them.

After you have written the introduction and the body of your speech you will need to write your conclusion. An effective conclusion lets your audience know that the speech is coming to an end and more importantly restates your theme. A sound way of testing your conclusion is to see if people get a good general idea of what your message is just by listening to the conclusion.

By paying attention to vocabulary, sentence structure, theme and its reinforcement along with its overall simplicity you will soon be writing speeches that you will be proud to present.

This article was originally published in The Jakarta Post.

Speech Writing: Subject, Purpose, Audience, Occasion


Public Speaking Organization: Subject, Purpose, Audience and Occasion


Jakarta – As promised in the last OnWords, today we will begin to explore how to become better public speakers.

Public speaking success is in a large part determined by your attitude. You can maximize this positive attitude potential by keeping in mind the four organizational basics of subject, purpose, audience and occasion while you plan your speech.


You cannot have confidence in front of others, if you do not have confidence in your subject. That is why it is essential for you, especially if you are a beginning orator, to choose a topic that you know well, something that genuinely interests you and something you understand.

There are numerous techniques which can help you whittle down broad subjects until they become specific enough for you to give a concise and, therefore, effective talk on. Some methods, such as brainstorming, listing, the journalist approach, and freewriting have been explained in previous OnWords columns which are archived on my blog,

If you are able to sum up your topic, your thesis, in less than half a minute, you have most likely sufficiently narrowed it down. Later in the process, as you write your speech, you will need to keep coming back to your thesis asking yourself if what you are writing is relevant to the topic.


Once you have uncovered a topic you feel comfortable talking about, it is time to for you consider the purpose of your talk. There are three main motivations behind a speech, to entertain, to inform and to persuade.

George Grice and John Skinner say in their textbook Mastering Public Speaking that you are an entertainer when you want to amuse, a mentor if you wish to inform and an advocate when you persuade.

The most memorable speeches combine elements of more than a single purpose. At the early stages of your speaking journey it is usually best to stick with entertaining and informing.

While going through this step, you need to ask yourself what you would like the audience to do or to learn. What do you hope they gain from their giving of their time?


Who you speak to greatly influences the subject and the purpose of your speech. To be an effectual communicator you must never forget who your audience is.

Have you spoken to the group before? If so, what did you learn about them? If it is a new group, you need to ask yourself what the audience members have in common. What is your connection to them? How can you establish a rapport with them? What do they hope to gain from listening to you?

Different audiences have different needs and different expectations. Although they share a subject, a speech you give to your child’s class on career day would be completely different than one you would give to a panel during a group interview. Vocabulary, tone, grammar, body posture and gestures are all determined by who you are speaking to.


Related to audience and purpose is the occasion. You need to know if you are going to be the event’s only speaker. If you are one of many, you will need to be more aware of how disconnected your audience may be feeling by your time to speak arrives.

Time constraints are likewise important. Always leave the audience wanting more by wrapping up your speech before the audience begins to tune out. The last thing you want to see as you look out over the audience is a sea of glazed-over fish eyes. Remember, listeners will complain about you speaking for too long before they complain about you being too short.

After you have organized your speech while always being cognizant of your subject, purpose, audience and occasion the time to write it comes. OnWords’ next column will help you with that.

Until then, good organizing,


This article was originally published in The Jakarta Post.