An Education Evening

At our first meeting in May, we benefited from an education evening, given by the Association of Speakers’ Clubs’ West Midlands Area President, David Wike. David looked at two areas which are essential to becoming a good speaker.
The first was the skill of speech evaluation. At Speakers’ Club, members evaluate the speeches given at each meeting and that evaluation is delivered as a complete mini-speech. David explained this mini-speech needs a logical structure with an introduction, middle and end. The content should focus on the positive aspects of the speech under evaluation and conclude with a couple of points for the speaker to takeaway and work on to improve his or her speaking ability. To reinforce these points David showed a video of the 2015 National Evaluation Contest. This also illustrated the subjectivity of evaluations – all the competitors picked up on certain aspects of the speech under evaluation, for example a heavy reliance on notes and too many facts delivered at a fast speed, but their opinions varied on the use of gestures to emphasise points within the speech.
During the second part of the evening David took us through the basics of constructing a speech. He pointed out the necessity of ‘signposting’ the purpose or direction of the speech early on, either explicitly by saying, “I am going to talk about x, y and z,” or in a more subtle fashion. He then talked about mind-mapping to brainstorm ideas for the speech content and whittling these down to only three main points for a club length speech of 6 – 8 minutes. In a longer speech, given outside of the club, there would be scope for including more information but care must be taken not to bore people with too many facts.
David left us feeling inspired about improving our own speaking performances and helping others improve theirs through considered evaluations.