More questions. More help. Introducing Mastering Table Topics Second Edition.

Shame on you, El Toro, if you didn’t vote

El Toro High School, I have a bone to pick with you. Actually, I have several, but I want to talk about one that is important – voting.

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How to answer questions

Sign from my presentation at the MuzeoOn May 24, I gave my presentation at the Muzeo in Anaheim based on my book Mastering Table Topics.

My subject, “How to Answer Questions,” may seem basic at first. We’ve been answering questions since we were old enough to speak. But think of all the times you’ve encountered people who can’t give a simple answer. Politicians who are long on platitudes but short on facts. Coworkers who respond to your questions by handing you a word salad filled with words but no useful information. It’s like a salad that’s mostly lettuce and a few slivers of carrots and E. coli.

Giving effective answers is a valuable skill that can benefit us professionally and personally. This is what I covered at the Muzeo.

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My first speech

Embroidered tallit bagMy first public speech was at my bar mitzvah. I was decked out in my new green suit and tie (remember, this was the 1970s) with my talit and a kipah my mom embroidered for me. Although I was shy, I felt comfortable standing on the bimah in front of family and friends. I had worked hard for the opportunity to give this speech, and I had something important to say.

My bar mitzvah was the day before Mother’s Day. Mom had spent nearly two years raising my brother and me as a single mom, and she had sacrificed so that I could have a Jewish education. I wanted to take that opportunity to thank her and share other things I believe.

There would be other speeches to come, most better written and organized. But it all began at Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills, California.

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See me at the Muzeo

This month, I will be speaking about my book Mastering Table Topics.

On May 24 at 6:00 p.m., I will be at the Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center in Anaheim, California. In my presentation, I will provide tips on public speaking, show how to answer questions in different situations, and give audience members the chance to practice their speaking skills. Admission is free. Autographed copies of my book will be available for purchase.

Mastering Table Topics has earned five-star reviews on Amazon for providing helpful tips on understanding questions, organizing thoughts, and giving quick and effective answers. Readers can practice using 750 thought-provoking questions on a variety of subjects. It was written for Toastmasters and everyone who wants to refine their impromptu speaking skills.

If you’re in Orange County, come and see me on May 24 at Muzeo at 241 S. Anaheim Blvd. in Anaheim.

The joy of primary sources

Amiga World Magazine and floppy diskIf you’ve done research, you’re familiar with primary sources. Reading first-hand accounts, viewing artifacts, and visiting the places you write about can help you bring a story to life.

As I cleaned out our garage recently, I came across some of my old Amiga stuff. One was an issue of Amiga World magazine that published a review I wrote in 1988. I also found some of my old data disks, including one we used to plan our wedding.

The find had some practical benefits. The magazine ads answered a question I had about the price of 3.5-inch floppy disks. (You can buy a 64-GB USB drive for less than the price of a box of 10 floppy disks, and this is without adjusting for inflation.) It also jogged my memory, reminding me of programs I used and things I had forgotten.

The greatest benefit was the emotions it stirred.

Being able to pick up and touch artifacts from 30 years ago reconnected me to the Amiga. I found myself immersed again in a world I was a part of. Recapturing those emotions and memories can help me recreate them in my novel.

The joy of primary sources is how they make you part of the story. You live in it and instead of just writing about it.