October 2016 meeting summary

Dear All,

Thank you to all who were able to attend Speakers Club on Tuesday and once again thank you to all for your input.

It was an evening of firsts as well as being a great demonstration of how we can pull together as a club to really make things happen.

The evening simply would not have taken place without a great spirit of flexibility and a willingness to jump in and get on with it. As our visitors were not able to come at short notice it left us with gaps in the agenda as well as a shortage of more experienced speakers who were able to take on key roles.

So at short notice all of the following things happened:

Donna agreed to take on the role of General Evaluator with just a few days notice.
Lorraine stepped in to the role of Topics Evaluator, a role which she had never done before, also with a few days notice.
Adelaide prepared and delivered her very first speech with less than a weeks notice.
Stuart stepped in to do a speech evaluation with 48 hours notice even though he was already delivering an A5 speech.
Karen took on the role of an Evaluator with about 4 hours notice.

I hope that I haven’t missed anyone. I know that I thanked everyone on the night but this was such a great achievement I feel it’s worth repeating and should be written down too.

Stuart opened the evening with a really thought provoking A5 speech asking he question “Why should we give to charities?” There is no denying that the content was engaging and that it was a well constructed speech and delivered in a very professional manner. If Stuart had delivered that in any setting outside of speakers club it was a speech to be proud of. We come to speakers club to learn though, and as progress up the levels we have to be prepared to put our performance under the microscope. In his evaluation Graeme concluded that while it was delivered well, there are areas that could be improved upon and suggested that Stuart repeat the level. It was great to see Stuart take the news in the true spirit of Speakers club and not be disheartened Preparing a speech of any level takes a lot of time and commitment and requires a lot of emotional involvement. In some ways Stuart has made a rod for his own back by delivering some exceptional performances in the past so we know what he is capable of! While it’s not my place to comment on individual evaluations I do feel that if we pass a speech where we know that the speaker can do better we would actually be doing the speaker a disservice. Watch out for next time that Stuart presents an A5 speech, it will be top class.

Adelaide shared her thoughts about mental health and why it’s an issue that we all should take notice of. Once again a very thought provoking topic which Adelaide delivered in a lovely calm and clear yet passionate way. Similar to Stuart, she has now set the bar at a very high level for herself. I have no doubt that she will continue to excel through the levels.

Our third speech was from Maggie which was also an inaugural presentation titled “The demise of the Roast.” It was so nice to see Maggie at the front with a prepared speech, we’ve seen her do a lot of topics so this was a different side to her. I hope that Maggie doesn’t mind me saying that she was quite nervous about this and that is really what an A1 speech is about, getting out of our comfort zone and stretching ourselves. Most, if not all of us remember our first speech very well simply because we, like Maggie, we’re pushing ourselves outside of where we felt comfortable and in all honesty would probably have preferred not to be there. With the benefit of hindsight we now know that it really does get easier and realise that pushing ourselves was a necessary part of the process.
I wish that we had a video record of Maggie’s speech though, I’d really love her to see how well she did. I think that she would feel very proud of her achievement in the same way that everyone else in the club is proud of what she did. Oh and by the way, if you weren’t there, Maggie puts Marmite in her Sunday roast. I’m sorry for letting my prejudices out here but in my book that just a little weird!

We were then given 3 expert evaluations by Graeme, Karen and Stuart. Not much to say there really apart from that they all did exactly what we would expect, to give honest honest feedback to help the speaker to progress. Supporting where possible, reinforcing things that the speaker does well and providing pertinent learning points so that the speaker is clear about one or more areas for them to consider for the future.

Jason provided us with what I thought was a very fun topics session. He told us it would be random and he did not disappoint! I think that we have come to expect anything that Jason does to be a little out of the ordinary and feel that SSC is a richer place for it. A few people were at first a little stumped about how to approach their speech but everyone did a great job of interpreting their topic.

Lorraine evaluated her first topics session and made a good job of it. She commented afterwards that it was more difficult than she had expected it to and I agree with her. Evaluations really push a speaker, not only do we have to deliver information, we are expected to do that at the same time as remember all of the things that we have learned, speech construction, eye contact, gestures, use of voice etc. In the case of topics, the speaker only has a few minutes to prepare. While it would be easy to think of going through the A levels as the best tool for learning public speaking, in reality it’s only a small part and evaluating is another key area.

One very important thing for us all to remember is that everybody in the room knows how difficult any of the roles can be, and everyone in the room is willing us to do well. If we falter, then people are not judging us, they are supporting us, and will take pleasure when they see us do better next time.

Donna finished the evenings proceedings with one of the most thorough General Evaluations that I’ve seen for a very long time. A key part of being a good evaluator is having great observational skills and Donna seems to spot important things that many would miss.

One of her comments was that the club business section seems to be a couple of minutes with Graeme and me talking at you and that there seems to be a desire from others to join in. She is so right. It’s very encouraging that during breaks and at the end of the evening people are chatting and offering suggestions to each other. Let’s make club business more of an open forum where anyone and everyone can and should make contributions. This will have to be carefully managed, where there is 10+ people in the room all having an opinion then keeping any time limit on this section may be difficult. It will be a case of trial and error until we get it right.

Jason also made a suggestion and an offer that he is happy to bring his laptop and record speeches for anyone who wants to. That’s another great idea and I will be first in the queue to take him up on it. When we see ourselves on video there is often a initial cringe reaction. Once you get over that and learn to see your good points as well as things that you can improve then it’s one of the most valuable learning experiences that there is.

Have a great month and I look forward to seeing you all in November.


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