The 10 Commandments of Public Speaking

Yesterday I had the pleasure to give a short session about public speaking at Nasawiya. During the session I basically condensed some 10 years of experience into 10 commandments and explained what they meant.  It was an enjoyable session that was also video recorded so I hope to share some of the video with you once I get my hands on it. Until then here are the 10 commandments and below you will be able ot download the presentation I used. I’m sharing it under a creative commons license so feel free to use it, enjoy it and don’t forget to credit itJ

The 10 Commandments of Public Speaking

1.       Thou shall prepare and practice

2.       Thou shall be organized

3.       Thou shall control nervousness

4.       Thou shall open strongly

5.       Thou shall use vocal variety

6.       Thou shall use body language

7.       Thou shall give a KISS

8.       Thou shall use visual aids wisely

9.       Thou shall listen actively

10.   Thou shall end strongly

And here is the full presentation 10 Commandments of Public Speaking

Happy speaking and if you need to get any help with a presentation or speech drop me a line at sallyshalabi [at] yahoo [dot] com.

So this is a stretch for a number of reasons including my lack of knowledge of this city, so here goes nothing…

1- Go for a walk on the Ain Mrayseh Cornish next to the sea and walk all the way to the light house- its free

2- Have a manousheh or Lahmeh b3ajeen- depending on where you get it from its 1$- 3$

3- Have cheesecake at Bread Republic in Hamra – its pricey but worth it. If you get the coffee you may jump the 10$ mark.

4- For as little as a dollar you can ride the old Ferris wheel by the sea side and they will stop you at the top and you can look out to sea from way up high!

5- Go to Dawra and try and find an Ethiopian restaurant, the food is interesting and the quizzing looks on the faces of the Lebanese when you tell them you are looking for an Ethiopian restaurant are amusing! It’s a treasure hunt that is rewarded with a big meal at the end. It would cost about 10 dollars.

6- Walk through the streets of Gemayzeh and Achrafieh to look at some old buildings that are quaint.

7- The national museum is tiny and a bit boring, unless you take note of three things in there that tell you more about the modern history of the city rather than the ancient one on display, the clue is look for the artifacts that have been affected by the civil war- FASCINATING. Ticket is a few dollars.

8- This might put you over the ten dollar budget but I highly recommend you splurge on an Armenian meal- the food is different and really good. Try myrig or mayas for a nice meal.

9- Take a walk through AUB- it’s the greenest spot in the whole city and can be very relaxing.

10- One of my favorite things to do on a Monday night is to go to this tiny little place called l’ Osteria in Mar Mikhail to listen to some live music. An orange juice is 3 or 4 dollars, have more and you jump the budget- but its worth listening to, especially if you sit outside on the street. The music starts at 9:00 pm.

I’d love to hear more about what to do in Beirut for under 10 dollars from others to since I am still exploring this city and trying to learn more about it. So add a comment with your favorite things to do here and lets go exploring!

The perfect guest is to some an elusive concept, but I disagree I don’t think the perfect guest is impossible to find. Trust me I should know, I have a revolving door in my house with a constant stream of guests, I’ve also spent five years of my life placing others in people’s homes. Some of the people that have stayed with me have been fantastic and have become lifelong friends, whereas others have left such horrible lasting images in my mind, that I cringe at the thought of them. Most people fall somewhere in between. So I was thinking what are the things that make you a good guest in my home? Here is a list, it’s not exhaustive or objective- I am sure we have different ideas of what makes a good guest and it will differ based on who is the guest.

1-      Replace the toilet paper and fill the ice tray! It’s as simple as telling your host she’s out or do just it yourself! And if you have stayed for a while buying more TP!

2-      Wash your dishes- really your host is not your servant.

3-      Pick up after yourself- this applies to gadgets, clothes, plates, papers…etc. Again not your servant.

4-      Ask before using- things maybe special have a special way of working or just not for your consumption!

5-      If you break/ damage something fix it, replace it or offer to!

6-      Offer to cook for your host or take them out to dinner or something – it’s always nice.

7-      Spend some time with your host, even if its just a morning coffee.

8-      Try to be considerate of cultural norms, and by that I don’t just mean different regional cultures but also home cultures, things like wearing slippers, meal times and such.

9-      Always leave the place as you found it or in better condition. I really hate picking up other people’s trash and cleaning up after them!

10-  Finally, try and leave a thank you note- they always put a smile on my face and I have kept each one that was left behind. It reminds me of the good times and makes me forget the not so good times.

So, if you are staying at mine, do remember these little things, it will make not just your stay more pleasant, it will mean that an invitation will be extended to you again and again and again.

Ahlan wa Sahlan!

I love this city and I love all it has to offer. I don’t believe I need to spend excessive amounts of money to enjoy myself here. And since I am always asked what should one do in the city – well here are 10 ideas that cost less than 10 JD to enjoy. Some of them even cost less!

1- Take any one of tens of stairs leading downtown from the surrounding Jabals- the ones in Jabal Amman are especially charming.
Cost: Zero

2- Enjoy a meal at any one of these restaurants- they have all been around for ages and are considered institutions amongst Ammannis:
• Hashem, downtown- 24 hour service in the heart of the city
• Al Quds restaurant, downtown- great traditional foods- must try the molokhia, & the crème caramel
• The Orient Bar aka Abu Ahmad, downtown- amazing grilled meats – must try the 3arayes
• Habiba, Downtown- Knafeh, knafeh, knafeh
• Tamriet Omar, Second Circle- Tamrieh and other traditional sweets
• Falafel Al Quds, Rainbow Street- Falafel sandwiches
• Shawerma Reem, Second Circle- Meat Shawerma (I’m not a fan but it’s a must to have had at least one if you live in Amman or are visiting)
Cost: Anywhere between 0.300 JD – 8 JD

3- A walk through Jabal Alweibdeh and its galleries. These include: The National Gallery for Arts, Makan, Darat Al Funun, Dar Al Anda, Darat Al Tasweer, and Mo7taref Al Rimal.
Cost: JD 3 entrance to the National Gallery

4- Making a kite in Jabal Al Qala’a- Befriend one of the kids and have them teach you.
Cost: 2- 3 JD

5- Walk through the Jabal Amman neighborhoods around the first and second circles in the cool summer night and smell the amazing jasmine bushes.
Cost: Zero

6- Sit out on a street café on Rainbow street. I highly recommend Duninde Café for the quiet cozy atmosphere and the hustle and bustle is a lot less on that end of the road.
Cost: A cup of coffee is about 3 JD

7- Sit on the hillside of Jabal Alweibdeh (the side facing Jabal Amman and the road leading downtown) and listen to the call to prayer vibrate and resonate through the valleys. Its so beautiful.
Cost: Zero

8- Find a good look out spot to East Amman in Jabal Amman and watch the day end and sunset reflected on the opposite hills. The colors are magnificent.
Cost: 0 – 5 JD depending on your choice of spot and beverage selection.

9- For an explosion of colors, sounds, smells and tastes walk through the vegetable markets of downtown. There are two a covered one and an outdoor one. Both are fun, noisy loud places.
Cost: Zero if you can resist buying the fresh produce!

10- Joining the Fast Walk on a Sunday or Wednesday evening for a power walk with over 100 people! The walks explore the city with 8 different routes leading you through the back streets of Amman on foot.
Cost: Zero

Feel free to share or start your own lists. I’d love to hear how you enjoy this city. Especially if you can do it for under 10 JD 😉

Yesterday I delivered and educational protion to my toastmasters club. The topic at hand was “Dealing with Nervousness“. When I prepared for this session I researched and thought about what to present. I quickly came to the realization that we each deal with nervousness differently and the best thing to do is to present my personal experience and encourage others to fond out what works for them. And so whenever I need to prepare a speech or will be in a public forum speaking I take these steps to ensure that I transform the nervous energy into one that works for me and not against me:


1-     I prepare my speech before hand taking the time to think about my introduction and my closing carefully as well as the points I want to make. I especially focus on my opening and closing because of their importance to a speech.

2-     I get to know my audience and cater my speech to their interests. I also make sure that I am using language and styles that work for that audience and that I am not talking at them but with them.

3-     I like to know the place I am speaking in, and so if I am unfamiliar with it I try to visit the space beforehand and if that is not possible I arrive very early to check it out. Once I know the physical space I visualize my use of the space and where I want to [position my self for maximum effect.

4-     PRACTICE: I practice at home, in front of a mirror, with a voice recorder, in taxis … anywhere and everywhere I can. The more practice I get in the more comfortable I am with my material and the less I have to worry about stumbling over my words.

5-     Just before a speech I sing. I sing out loud and get my energy out that way. It helps me breathe, it entertains me and those around me (especially since I cant sing to save my life), and it sets the tone for me. But here I would recommend that you do what works for you, stretching, exercise, breathing, walking, shaking… there are many things to do just before a speech that can help you release the nervous energy. Experiment with what works to your benefit.

6-     Once up and in front of the audience I take a deep breath and look at the audience before I start, some people in toastmasters call this the whispered ah, make sure its not a noticeable sigh though.

7-     I’m ready and so I start my speech.

8-     When speaking I sometimes use a mind map instead of notes – if you do have to use notes make sure its note cards that are numbered and with little text on each one so you aren’t reading but rather remembering points and talking to the audience.

9-     When I am preparing a speech and especially when I am delivering I I always keep in mind that no one knows what I am going to tell them so no one knows I’ve made a mistake if I do make one. This means I don’t get hung up and freeze if I maker a mistake… I just keep going.

10-  Finally, I have FUN and I make sure that the audience enjoys my presentations too, no matter how serious they are.


I’ve been speaking at toastmasters for seven years and this formula works for me. Sometimes I skip a step or two (like the singing). But this is my formula, this works for me. So why then am I telling you all this? Because with time, experience and experimentation you too can find the formula that works best for you.


Don’t let nervousness conquer you, channel the energy by breathing, singing, dancing, shaking or however works, learn to enjoy speaking and have fun.