It was the first Maidenhead Speakers Club meeting of 2012, well attended with over thirty members and a sprinkling of welcome guests. The new starting time of 7:30pm created an extra buzz of energy from the outset. Losing fifteen minutes from the available setting-up time, meant that everyone pulled together with one goal in mind: This meeting must start on time.
And it did! After the initial Happy New Year wishes from the sergeant at arms and club president, TME Keith Clarke led us through a merry romp of spectacular speeches, covering a multitude of subjects.
Firstly, we had John Callaghan teaching us about the origin of the Marathon: a solider ran twenty-six miles from the battlefield of Marathon to announce that the mighty Persians had been defeated by the outnumbered and – apparently – outmatched Greeks. A triumph for the underdog; a tale to inspire us all!
Next was Rob Howes, who opened his speech by reminding us what a small world it is, by suggesting that the ‘six degrees of separation’ that links every human on the planet has actually dropped to three or four degrees of separation, thanks to the internet. Rob extolled the benefits of social networking, highlighting his message with three personal anecdotes. Rob was awarded Best Speaker of the evening for this inspiring and entertaining speech.
Steve Catchick then gave a rousing speech, encouraging members who are nearing the completion of their Competent Communication manual to go along as a guest to the advanced club, Marlow Orators. He suggested that it can sometimes be difficult to acquire an advanced speaking slot at a regular club, as the advanced speeches tend to be longer, which is why it’s so important that we make the most of Marlow Orators.
Thomas White inspired us with his speech, informing us that he didn’t know the answer to the question ‘How can I be happy?’. He said, with passion and humour, that if anyone claims that they do know the answer, then you should “Run away!” He left us with the advice that we should follow our heart, and do what feels right for us. He said that if there’s any fear or guilt involved, then it’s probably not the right answer, because it doesn’t make us feel good.
Nicky Bailey gave an educational speech, just before the Table Topics session, on how to improve our impromptu speaking skills. He ran through seven main ways of delivering a Table Topic, including, expressing an opinion, telling a story, or talking about past, present, and future. He reminded us not to apologise, ramble, or waste time. Valuable advice indeed, which was clearly taken onboard by the excellent Table Topics participants, with Laurie Billson winning the Best Table Topic award.
The Best Evaluator award went to Gerard Pillai for his amusing and thorough evaluation of Nick Bailey’s speech, after which the meeting finished as it had started – on time – setting the standard for 2012!
The talent at Maidenhead Speakers Club abounds, and a vast variety of different subjects is always covered during each meeting. But one thing that every meeting does have in common is that I always leave a little more knowledgeable and inspired than when I arrived!
By Julie Farrell