January 2017 meeting summary

Thanks to everybody who attended the meeting on Tuesday night and helped get the new year off to a flying start for the club.

It was a pleasure to welcome Michelle Pride, President of Wharfdale Speakers Club who had made the almost 2 hour journey to be with us. It’s great to see the level of commitment that she is showing to her club by travelling around to try to pick up some fresh ideas. We have arranged a reciprocal visit on March 3rd and I do hope that as many of you as possible will join us. I’ve met several people from the Wharfdale club and I’m thoroughly looking forward to it.

Karen Somerset was our Chair for the evening and she did a great job of running the evening. As always, Karen welcomed us with a really warm smile which immediately puts people at their ease. Her manner comes across to me as being engaging and informal, almost like she is speaking to a group of old friends. At the same time she manages to run things to time and in a businesslike manner. She didn’t even seem to miss a beat when a mistake on the agenda (by me!) caused confusion about who was evaluating which speech.

Maggie Sherlock was our first speaker of the night with her A2 speech What is Quality? It’s not long since Maggie made her first speech and I think that everyone was in agreement that she did a fine job. In my opinion she chose her subject wisely by speaking about something she is very familiar with. This is always a good strategy for less experiences speakers and allows the focus and concentration to be on the assignment rather than the structure. Graeme Cumming gave a very good evaluation and didn’t hesitate in recommending that she moves on to the next level. Evaluations are about balance and Graeme really found that point. He found many positives to underline and to show Maggie the areas where she is strong while at the same time providing her enough learning points to continue to challenge her. I’m really looking forward to seeing Maggie progress as her confidence continues to grow.

Susanne Fawler was our second speaker, also with an A2 speech titled Success. It’s not very often that we have props at Speakers Club so many of us were wondering what Susanne had in store for us when she brought some marshmallows with her to the lectern. She used them brilliantly though, they really underlined her point while not being a distraction. As we have come to expect from Susanne, her speech was interesting, beautifully delivered as well as easily meeting the requirements of the manual.

If there was a prize for the most professional person in the room on Tuesday it would have to go to Donna for her evaluation of Susanne’s speech. There was another mix up (again I’ll put my hand up!!) and Donna thought she was evaluating a speech for Mean What you Say whereas it was in fact Speech Construction. It wasn’t until she was standing at the lectern that the mistake came to light and without a second thought she discarded most of what she had prepared and delivered a great evaluation off the top of her head. If we hadn’t have known what had happened I don’t think a single person would have noticed. Donna also used a very interesting tactic, and one that I particularly liked, of offering Susanne something to think about in her style of delivery. It could easily have been given as a learning point which would not have been wrong, however Donna correctly picked up that much of what we give as learning points are personal opinions and not facts. By giving feedback in this way the speaker is invited to think for themselves about their presentation rather than being told what to do.

Helen Rosbottom was our topics chair for the evening and I’ll stick my neck out a little here and say that for me it was one the most enjoyable topics session I’ve ever been part of. Her theme of different occasions throughout the year, such as New Years Eve, Valentines Day etc was inspired and worked perfectly. It had just the right balance of being challenging yet accessible and because of that I think that every topic taker was able to find something to talk about. Most seemed to give us personal stories which is often a good approach and one that can be very pleasing for the listener. Well done to Helen and it’s also nice to see her as she grows more and more into a confident speaker who is developing her own style.

I evaluated the session so nothing further to add there.

Andrea Harmer was our General Evaluator for the evening and rounded the things off very nicely. It’s been a while since Andrea has performed this role and so it was really welcome to get feedback on the evening with a different set of eyes and ears. As would be expected from someone with as much experience as Andrea she was able to provide us with some useful feedback and observations and I for one enjoyed the way in which she did this. Andrea seems to have a knack of delivering everything in a very encouraging way. She seems to spot a lot of positive points which many might miss and even when she finds learning points, she delivers them in a very uplifting manner. Couple this with her own aire of being so natural when speaking she is a great role model for anyone who wants to become a better speaker.

I always tell myself that I’m going to keep these summaries short. It’s really difficult though when there are so many great things to report.

Sadly I won’t be with you in February. I wish you a fantastic meeting and look forward to hearing how it goes.


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