2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Effective Presentation Skills

Making a good oral presentation is an art that involves attention to the needs of your audience, careful planning, and attention to delivery.

Our teacher gave us a presentation on effective presentation skills, he himself being pretty amazing at it. I have just copied his points in one place. Hope it helps 🙂

The Audience

Some basic questions to ask about an audience are:

  • Who will I be speaking to?
  • What do they know about my topic already?
  • What will they want to know about my topic?
  • What do I want them to know by the end of my talk

Engaging the audience
One of the secrets of a good presentation is to involve the audience.

  • Maintain eye contact
  • Ask for feedback
  • Look confident

Planning your Presentation

  • In an effective presentation, the content and structure are adjusted to the medium of speech.
  • As a general rule, expect to cover much less content than you would in a written report. Make difficult points easier to understand by preparing the listener for them, using plenty of examples and going back over them later. Leave time for questions within the presentation.
  • Give your presentation a simple and logical structure. Include an introduction in which you outline the points you intend to cover and a conclusion in which you go over the main points of your talk.

Structure of the Presentation

  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion
  • Questions


A good introduction does four things:

–Attracts and focuses the attention of the audience

–Puts the speaker and audience at ease

–Explains the purpose of the talk and what the speaker would like to achieve

–Gives an overview of the key points of the talk


The body of a presentation must be presented in a logical order that is easy for the audience to follow and natural to your topic. Here are some questions you can ask yourself about the examples you include:

–Are they relevant to the experience of the audience?

–Are they concrete?

–Will the audience find them interesting?

–Are they varied?

–Are they memorable?


A good conclusion does two things:

–Reminds the audience of your key points

–Reinforces your message

–Your conclusion should end the presentation on a positive note and make the audience feel that have used their time well listening to you.

Delivering your Presentation

  • People vary in their ability to speak confidently in public, but everyone gets nervous and everyone can learn how to improve their presentation skills by applying a few simple techniques.
  • The main points to pay attention to in delivery are the quality of your voice, your rapport with the audience, use of notes and use of visual aids.

Voice quality

Your voice is your main channel of communication to the audience, so make sure you use it to its best effect.

  • Volume

Is your voice loud enough or too loud? Adjust your volume to the size of the room and make sure the people at the back can hear. In a big room take deep breaths and try to project your voice rather than shout.

  • Speed and fluency

Speak at a rate so your audience can understand your points. Do not speed up because you have too much material to fit into the time available. Try not to leave long pauses while you are looking at your notes or use fillers such as ‘um’ or ‘er’. Use pauses to allow the audience to digest an important point. Repeat or rephrase difficult or important points to make sure the audience understands.

  • Clarity

Speak clearly. Face the audience and hold your head up. Your speech will be clearer if you look directly at the members of the audience while you speak. Keep your hands and notes away from your mouth and keep your eyes on the audience when you are talking about overhead transparencies. If you have to look at the whiteboard or the overhead projector, stop talking until you are ready to face the audience again.

  • Pronunciation

You may not be able to improve your general pronunciation much before an important presentation. However, you can make sure you know how to pronounce names and difficult words. Do not use exaggerated intonation or pronunciation of individual words. Your natural speaking style will be good enough as long as you speak clearly.

Rapport with the audience

Rapport involves:

  • Attention to eye contact,
  • Sensitivity to how the audience is responding to your talk and
  • What you look like from the point of view of the audience.

These can be improved by practicing in front of one or two friends or video-taping your rehearsal.

Effective use of Notes

  • Good speakers vary a great deal in their use of notes. Some do not use notes at all and some write out their talk in great detail.
  • If you are not an experienced speaker it is not a good idea to speak without notes because you will soon lose your thread.
  • You should also avoid reading a prepared text aloud or memorizing your speech as this will be boring.

Speaking without notes

Some presenters do not use notes at all. They just remember the outline of what they are going to say and talk.

Advantages: If you do it well, you will seem natural, knowledgeable and confident of your topic. You will also find it easier to establish rapport with the audience because you can give them your full attention.

Disadvantages: It is easy to lose your thread, miss out whole sections of your talk or to go over the time limit. People who speak without notes often fail to convey a clear idea of the structure of their ideas to the audience.

This is a high-risk strategy. A few people can present effectively without notes. If you are one of them, good luck!

Reading from a script

Some experienced presenters write down every word they intend to say. They may read the whole script aloud or they may just use it as a back-up.

Advantages: You will find it easier to keep within the time limit. You are likely to less nervous and make fewer mistakes.

Disadvantages: It is difficult to establish rapport with the audience. You may sound like you are reading aloud rather than speaking to an audience. Listeners often lose interest in a presentation that is read aloud.

This is a low-risk strategy employed by many experienced non-native speaker presenters. If you use it, you will need to develop the skill of reading aloud while still sounding natural. Few people can do this effectively.

Note cards

Many presenters write down headings and key points on cards or paper. They use them as reminders of what they are going to say.

Advantages: You will find it easier to establish rapport with the audience. Your presentation will be structured but you will sound natural.

Disadvantages: You may find it difficult to keep within the time limit. If your notes are too brief, you may forget what you intended to say.

This is a medium-risk strategy used by many experienced presenters and the one most often recommended. The disadvantages of note cards can be overcome if you practice your presentation before you give it.

Visual aids

  • Visual aids help to make a presentation more lively. They can also help the audience to follow your presentation and help you to present information that would be difficult to follow through speech alone.
  • The two most common forms of visual aid are overhead transparencies (OHTs) and computer slide shows (e.g. PowerPoint). Objects that can be displayed or passed round the audience can also be very effective and often help to relax the audience. Some speakers give printed handouts to the audience to follow as they speak. Others prefer to give their handouts at the end of the talk, because they can distract the audience from the presentation.

Overhead transparencies

Some presenters use their OHTs as notes. They use them like note cards as reminders of what they are going to say. Handouts and PowerPoint presentations can be used in the same way.

Advantages: It is easy to establish rapport with the audience because you are sharing your notes with them. You will sound natural and your presentation will seem well-organised.

Disadvantages: You may find it difficult to keep within the time limit. Your presentation may be dominated by your OHTs. Unless you are careful, you may find that you are talking to the overhead projector rather than the audience.

This is a medium-to-high-risk strategy. Used well, it can be very effective, especially by presenters who are used to speaking without notes.


The aim of using transparencies is to support the points you want to make in speech. The audience will be able to follow better if they can see your key points and examples as well as hearing them. OHTs can

–Reinforce a point you have made

–Show what something looks like

–Illustrate relationships

–Show information patterns

–Present figures or graphs

–Summarize key points

–Help the audience follow passages or quotations you read aloud

OHTs are not the only form of visual aid available to you. For example, if you want to show what something looks like, it may be better to show the audience the thing itself rather than a picture of it.


To be effective, OHTs must be attractive and easy to read. Some basic rules are:

–Use large fonts and images

–Present one key point or example per OHT

–Use headings and bullet points in preference to lines of text

–Use strong colors and don’t use too many

–Use simple graphs in preference to tables of figures

–Pay attention to layout. Use the centre of the OHT rather than the edges

Using overhead projectors

Overhead projectors are designed to allow the speaker to project an image while facing the audience. The image may be a picture or graphic, notes indicating the points you are making or longer texts that you want to read aloud. Whenever you use an OHT, the attention of the audience will be divided between you and the image, so there are a few basic rules to follow:

–Make sure the image can be seen. If possible go to the room in advance and check that everything on your OHTs can be read easily from the back of the room.

–If possible, make sure the projector is in a convenient position. Decide where you want to stand when

–speaking and then position the projector where you can get to it easily. This will usually be on the side of your body that you normally use for writing (i.e. your left side if you are left-handed)

–Keep your slides in order in a pile next to the projector and put them back in order in another pile as you take them off the projector.

–If possible, control the lighting in the room yourself so that there is always a light shining on you. If your OHTs are easy to read, you will not need to turn off the lights.

–When you are presenting, avoid looking at the projected image and the transparency on the projector. It is a good idea to print out your slides on paper to keep with your notes so you can refer to them while you are speaking.

–If you want to draw attention to a point on an OHT, put a pen on top of it and leave it pointing at the point you want to draw attention to. Don’t point with your finger because you will have to look at the projector while you do so.

–If you want the audience to read longer texts on OHTs (e.g. quotations or tables of figures) give them time to do so. There is no point in putting an OHT on the projector if the audience does not have time to read it.

  • OHTs and handouts

Some speakers give handouts for the audience to read while they are talking. The advantage of OHTs over handouts is that they focus attention on you and your talk. If you want to give a handout, it is often a good idea to wait until the end of the presentation before distributing it. Often members of the audience want to note down points from your OHTs. This can distract them from following the presentation, so it is a good idea to distribute information that the audience will want to note down on handout. As soon as someone starts taking notes, tell the audience that they do not need to do so because they will get the information on the handout.

Comparative Analysis Of Non-Abrahamic Religions With Islam

*This was my homework for class assignment. So Obviously the facts and information are not provided by me but I compiled them in one place for the topic. Hope it helps* 🙂



Sikhism came into existence in the fifteenth century as a reaction to the social and religious practices of the time in the Indian subcontinent. Idol worship, superstitions, division of society into classes and denigration of women in society were some of the social ills that preempted the strong emergence of Sikhism.


A typical monotheist religion, it believes in one God and is based on Three Pillars of Sikhism, which are Naam Japna (meditation on Waheguru), Kirat karō (honest labor), and Vaṇḍ chakkō (Charity to the community).


The three pillars in Sikhism are Naam Japna, Kirat koro and Vachakko.


Sikhism has Five K’s. The Five K’s are Kesh (uncut clean hair), Kangha (wooden comb), Kachera (clean white shorts), Kara (steel/iron bracelet) and Kirpan (long sharp sword).


The Sikh Gurus (or teachers) have emphasized on recognizing all humans as equal before Waheguru, regardless of colour, caste or lineage. The Sikh Gurus did not call themselves as prophets. The emphasis is on a single all pervading God and creating a relationship with him. There is no place for intermediaries.

Sikhism is opposed to the concept of forced conversions and strongly believes in the fatherhood of an omnipresent, omnipotent and all pervasive God and brotherhood of man.


The Sikh holy book is known as the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, it contains the teachings of the Sikh Gurus and includes passages from both Hindu and Sufi saints. The Sikh Gurus have referred to their compositions as “dhur ki bani” or the word of primal divine source. Again, no intermediary communicated this word of God.


The teachers in Sikhism are called Gurus.

Beginning with Guru Nanak Dev who was the founder of Sikhism, the teachings of the first five Sikh Gurus were compiled by the fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev into the Guru Granth Sahib. These included teachings of saints of the Hindu and Muslim faith also. The Tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, before his death, declared the Guru Granth Sahib as the eternal guru of the Sikhs for all times to come, and copies were distributed by Baba Deep Singh and Bhai Mani Singh to Sikhs.


Amritsar is the sacred place for Sikhs. In Sikhism, Gurpurabs are considered auspicious days where as Eid is an auspicious day in Islam.


A dead Muslim is buried whereas a dead Sikh is cremated.



Taoism existed in more direct competition with other traditions and was not established officially to the same degree.


Taoism is not monotheistic and it believes in a variety of deities and spirits which may or may not originate from this world, and particular ones may be more or less important to individuals.


Taoism is more likely to be experienced as either tradition and as principles to strive for.
Taoism is more compatible with eclectic or self-chosen beliefs and practices which might be combined with Confucianism, Buddhism, or even elements of Islam.

Taoism emphasizes reflection and mystical experience more than does orthodox Islam, which is more rationalistic and focused on active structuring of society according to what it understands as correct beliefs and correct practices.

Taoism teaches reincarnation, with hope of becoming an immortal after a number of lifetimes.

In Taoism, the main purpose of life is to live it to its fullest and achieve happiness and satisfaction while we are still living. In order to do so, we must live in the context that we exist in, without trying to change it or create any unrealistic needs or desire that will cause us to think that life should be different than what it is.
In the Taoist culture, the purpose of life is to live life to its fullest without thinking that it should be different than the way it is. In fact, in Taoism, it is believed that: “if we have no perceived lack, our life will be the best one because then there will be no desire for things that we don’t have.”

In the Taoist beliefs, we can notice a certain “fatality” to follow your life as “planned”. People live their lives like it is without desire to change it. They just make sure that they make the most out of it without imagining it being different, as explained by the Taoist concept: “ The purpose of life is to live life, without thinking that it should be different than what it is right now.”

They live their lives in order to satisfy their own will and in order to, themselves, reach the highest level of harmony with nature without having any “colored filters” between their eyes and reality.


Taoism has a variety of sacred texts but there is no decisive authority among them.


Taoism is more associated with sacrificial offerings, propitiating spirits, and similar activities



Buddhism is based on the words of the Buddha, or Siddharta Gautama. More than being a religion, Buddhism is a philosophy which encompasses a variety of traditions, practices and beliefs.

Buddhism is a widely-practiced religion in Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka.


Buddhism only introduced the concept of God in the later doctrines.

The Buddhist doctrine exhorts the Buddhists to follow the essence of Dhamma and condemn idol-worship.

The earlier Buddhist doctrine does not mention any God, although the concept of Godly figures was introduced later.


Buddhists believe in the two major branches of Buddhism, which include the Theravada, or ‘The School of the Elders’, and Mahayana, which is ‘The Great Vehicle’.


Buddhists also believe that the actions of a person are dependent on his salvation. According to the Buddhist doctrine, the works done by a person decides upon his salvation, and therefore, the person cannot blame others for it.

Buddhism does not focus too much on good and evil.

Karma is something that Buddhists believe in when you talk about eternal life.

The universe is separate from God and has been created by Him.

Buddhism believes in humanity and love for all beings.

Buddhism opposes the evils of caste and creed and asserts the equality of all beings.

Buddhism neither stresses on the aspects of the natural world, nor gives an emphasis on the role of God in goods and evils.


In Buddhism, there are a vast number of Buddhist scriptures and religious texts, which are commonly divided into the categories of canonical and non-canonical.

The former, also called the Sutras (Sanskrit) or Suttas (Pali) are believed to be, either literally or metaphorically, the actual words of the Buddha. The latter are commentaries on canonical texts, other treatises on the Dharma, and collections of quotes, histories, grammars, etc.

The Tripitaka (Tipitaka in Pali), Mahayana Buddhism reveres the Tripitaka as a sacred text with addition of the Sutras and the Tibetan Book of the Dead.


Buddhism celebrates many holidays and festivals.

The Buddhist New Year,Vesak (Buddha Day), Sangha Day, Dhamma Day, Uposatha (Observance Day), Kathina Ceremony (Robe Offering Ceremony), Loy Krathong Festival (Festival of Floating Bowls), Elephant Festival, Festival of The Tooth, Ulambana (Ancestor Day).



Islam is one of the largest religions in the world, with over 1 billion followers. It based on revelations received by the Prophet Muhammad in 7th-century Saudi Arabia. According to Islamic tradition, the angel Gabriel appeared to the Prophet over the course of 20 years, revealing to him many messages from God. The story of Islam starts with the prophet Muhammad. The religion of the Arab world before the advent of Islam was an animistic polytheism. Numerous gods were worshipped as well, with most towns having their own patron god.


The single most important belief in Islam, and arguably the central theme of the religion, is that there is only one God. The name of God is Allah, which is simply Arabic for “the (al) God (Ilah).” People who follow Islam are called Muslims and they believe whatever Allah told them through his book to his messenger is guarded by Allah Himself. They believe in success following Allah’s guide.


The Arabic word islam means “submission,” reflecting the faith’s central tenet of submitting to the will of God. Followers of Islam are called Muslims.

Islamic practices center on the Five Pillars of Islam—faith; prayer; fasting; pilgrimage to Mecca; and alms—and include several holidays and rituals as well.

There is no official creed to which one must adhere to be considered a Muslim. All that is required is to believe and recite the Shahada: “There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his Prophet.” Beyond this core belief, however, Muslim doctrine is often summarized in “Six Articles of Faith.” Many Muslims believe that one must adhere to the six articles to be considered a Muslim: One God, angels, books, prophets, judgement day, supremacy of God’s Will.


Muhammad, the founder of Islam, is revered as “the Seal of the Prophets” – the last and greatest of the messengers of God. He is not divine in any way, for the strict monotheism that characterizes Islam (as well as Judaism) does not allow for such an interpretation. Other prophets are important in Islam as well, all of which are shared with the Jews or the Christians.

For a Muslim, the object of life is to live in a way that is pleasing to Allah so that one may gain Paradise. It is believed that at puberty, an account of each person’s deeds is opened, and this will be used at the Day of Judgment to determine his eternal fate.

Like Christianity, Islam teaches the continued existence of the soul and a transformed physical existence after death. There will be a day of judgment and humanity will be divided between the eternal destinations of Paradise and Hell.


In Islam, there are two main sacred texts: the Quran (also spelled “Koran”) and the Hadith (or Hadeeth). These books teach and illustrate Islamic beliefs, values, and practices. The Quran is the most sacred text, as it is believed to be the literal word of God as revealed to Muhammad. The Hadith is a secondary text that records sayings of Muhammad and his followers. These two texts form the basis for all Islamic theology, practice and Sharia (Islamic law).

The word “Quran” means “recitation” in Arabic.

The word “Hadith” means “narrative” or “report” in Arabic.


Sacred places in Islam, like Mecca and Medina, are very important.

The most sacred place in Islam is the Ka’ba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The Ka’ba is a mosque (built by Abraham according to Muslim tradition) built around a black stone. Muhammad designated Mecca as the holy city of Islam and the direction (qibla) in which all Muslims should offer their prayers.

The second holiest site in Islam is Medina (or Medinah), the “City of the Prophet,” is in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia.

The third most sacred city in Islam is Jerusalem, which was the original qibla (direction of prayer) before it was changed to Mecca.

Karbala is a city in Iraq, located about 100 km southwest of Baghdad. Shia Muslims consider Karbala to be one of the holiest places in the world.


Al-Hijra (the Islamic New Year), Ramadan, ‘Id Al-Fitr or Eid al-Fitr (Arabic for “Festival of the Breaking of the Fast”), ‘Id Al-Adha or Eid al-Adha (Arabic for “Festival of the Sacrifice”) and Ashura.


Belief System
Origins &
God(s) and
Human Situation
Life’s Purpose
More Info
Sikhism Guru Nanak, c. 1500 AD, Punjab, India. 23 million One God (Ik Onkar, Nam) Overcome the self, align life with will of God, and become a “saint soldier,” fighting for good. Reincarnation until resolve karma and merge with God. Prayer and meditation on God’s name, services at temple (gurdwara), turban and five Ks. Balance work, worship, and charity. No monasticism or asceticism. Adi Granth (Sri Guru Granth Sahib) ReligionFacts section
Taoism Lao-Tzu, c. 550 BC, China. 20 million
(394 million adherents of Chinese religion)
Pantheism – the Tao pervades all. Yin-yang – opposites make up a unity. Purpose is inner harmony, peace, and longevity. Acheived by living in accordance with the Tao. Revert back to state of non-being, which is simply the other side of being. General attitude of detachment and non-struggle, “go with the flow” of the Tao. Tai-chi, acupuncture, and alchemy to help longevity. Tao Te Ching, Chuang-Tzu ReligionFacts section
Buddhism Founded by Siddharta Gautama (the Buddha) in c. 520 BC, NE India. 360 million Varies: Theravada atheistic; Mahayana more polytheistic. Buddha taught nothing is permanent. Purpose is to avoid suffering and gain enlightenment and release from cycle of rebirth, or at least attain a better rebirth by gaining merit. Reincarnation (understood differently than in Hinduism, with no surviving soul) until gain enlightenment Meditation, mantras, devotion to deities (in some sects), mandalas (Tibetan) Tripitaka (Pali Canon); Mahayana sutras like the Lotus Sutra; others. ReligionFacts section
Islam Muhammad, 622 AD, Saudi Arabia 1.3 billion (Sunni: 940 million) One God (Allah in Arabic) Humans must submit (islam) to the will of God to gain Paradise after death. Paradise or Hell. Five Pillars: Faith, Prayer, Alms, Pilgrimage, Fasting. Mosque services on Fridays. Ablutions before prayer. No alcohol or pork. Holidays related to the pilgrimage and fast of Ramadan. Qur’an (Scripture); Hadith (tradition) ReligionFacts section