June 2016 Meeting Summary

Yet again another great meeting last Tuesday and thank you to all for making it happen. Whether your part was in the planning and organising, making or evaluating a speech, running topics or taking part in topics, each is important as the others and we don’t have a programme without them all.

There is one part of Speakers Club which is often overlooked and yet is both a vital part of the evening and also a very important part of your journey as a speaker. I’m talking of course about being part of the audience, listening to the speeches that others have spent a long time crafting.

Without someone to listen there is not much point in making a speech, although we could stay at home and practice in front of the cat. The whole point is to practice speaking in front of real people and so the more people we have in the room the more beneficial it is to the speaker.

It’s not all about the speaker though. While you are listening, you’re not passively listening and it’s not about being entertained by the content of the speech. Watch the speaker, how do they present themselves at the lectern and how do they handle their notes? Listen to them, how do they use their voice, what is the most noticeable thing in the whole of their speech? Even though you’re not evaluating, you can and should be evaluating in your own mind. You can then compare your thoughts with those of the evaluator to find out which points you agreed upon. Were there any that you missed or, did you pick up on anything that the formal evaluation missed? It’s all learning, and then when you come to do your formal speeches you have already been training your brain as to what will work and what won’t. This kind of mental rehearsal is widely used in sports training. The athletes who will be competing at the Olympic games later this year will have spent many hours observing others as well as going over their races again and again in their mind in advance of the competition. If it’s good enough for Olympians, let’s make it good enough for Speakers Club too. There are lot’s of opportunities for learning, let’s all get into the habit of using all of them.

It was great to welcome back Susanne and Martin who visited us last month. Both have expressed an interest in joining the club so I look forward to welcoming them on board. It was also good to welcome Tareq as a first time visitor and to have Richard visiting us from Stockport speakers club once again.

Donna did a fantastic job of chairing the evening. I want to be careful to not repeat Graeme’s evaluation however I did particularly enjoy her presentation style which is friendly and informal yet stays on the correct side of professional.

A while ago we did start to introduce an informal start to the evening with a kind of mini topics section. It was good to see Donna revive that by asking us to speak for 30 seconds reflecting about something. It’s a great way to get everyone speaking early on in the meeting and something which I would personally like to see happening more regularly when time allows.

We had two A4 speeches (use of gestures), the first from David and the second from Lorraine. Two very different approaches, however both suited the style of the speaker and both were deservedly passed by their evaluators who were myself and Karen respectively.

There was rather a lot of club business this month. As promised I will be following up on my question about external training with a separate email soon. One point made by Graeme which is worth repeating was the need to reply to emails from the Chair, or anyone else, who is putting together the programme as promptly as possible. It’s a very difficult task co-ordinating roles and there is much involved. The chair needs to know that they have all roles filled, evaluators need to know speech levels in order to give them time to prepare etc. Please make it easy for them by reply to their contacts in a timely manner.

After the break Jason ran a thoroughly enjoyable topics session which was focused on the subject of emotions. I liked the way that he allowed the speaker to pick their own topic at random from an envelope and that less experienced speakers were able to change it if they felt it would help them. A small touch but a good one which helped to make what can be an intimidating part of the evening easier for our visitors. It was good to see all of our guests taking part and once again making a very good job of it too.

Thanks to Rob for stepping in at short notice to evaluate the topics section and saving the day. Again without wishing to repeat the General Evaluators report on his performance, I personally felt that he got the balance between evaluating the Topics Chair and the individual topics spot on.

Graeme finished the evening with the general evaluation and with the benefit of his considerable experience was able to make some very valuable and constructive comments. The main point of his evaluation which I would like to underline was once again about salutations. It’s an area that I feel as a club we have let slip a little recently and one that I would like to see tightened up next season. It is very simple: Address the chair, address the audience and so will take one of two forms.

Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen
Madame Chair, Ladies and Gentlemen

Note, it’s always Ladies and Gentlemen even if there is only one lady present, never Lady and Gentleman.

That small point aside I hope that you enjoyed the evening as much as I did and I look forward to seeing you all next month where we will have the club’s Annual General Meeting in the first half followed by what I hope will be a very different and very fun topic section.


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