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Reflections on Arthur Garvey Speaker Of The Year 2015

Luke Mathews Rostrum WA Vice President public speaking wa

Young, old, female, male, beginner or expert – all are definitions that society places on us though, at Rostrum, we’ve no need for definitions. We’re all, every one of us, learning. We gather and share

knowledge, with the aim of becoming confident, competent communicators. At Rostrum we push the envelope, step outside our comfort zone, and learn the art of presentation.

What a fantastic night the Arthur Garvey Speaker of the Year turned out to be! Six excellent speakers presented six outstanding speeches. Between you and me, they are all winners for pushing the envelope and growing in the process. Congratulations to Priscilla Nguyen for winning the runner-up prize, and to Frank Butler whose reminder to ‘stop and smell the roses’ earned him the trophy.

Wasn’t it great to see such a large representation of women in this year’s competition? Our bright and bubbly MC, Carmel Philippe, expertly guided us through the program. A massive thanks to Sue Hart, the primary organiser of the night; it was fantastic having your experience to guide the Club 2230 AGSOY committee. Congratulations to all the finalists and thank you to the adjudicators for what must have been a difficult job. With women willing, there will be more and more who become Rostrum’s coaches, sadly very few have. The vast majority of them, eligible to be adjudicators, were participants in one way or another, on our big night.

Where would I be, not sharing some of the highlights that had an impact on me? From start to finish I enjoyed every speech; I was on the edge of my seat, excited by every word.

I was touched by Vivienne’s speech on the power of positive thinking. The mind is a mystery and mine was mystified at the thought of a balding deity wearing a wig made of Vivienne’s locks! While Viv has enough hair to make 10 wigs, it might be the ‘Edisonial’ 10,000 that don’t look good on divine beings before they learn to love themselves for who they are. And Viv, when you make that breakthrough in ‘thinking the weight off’, flick me a Facebook message – I want to be in on the secret.

Like Frank, I often dream of a time when I might escape the daily hustle and bustle, pining for preindustrial pleasures of patience, not productivity. I know too well about living as though I’ll never die though vainly holding out that I won’t die having never truly lived. So the challenge I set myself for the next time I see a haystack is to lie down on it and relax, and just watch the clouds roll by.

Joanne’s experience as an IT trainer made me consider the adage, ‘slow and steady wins the race’. Too often with technology we’re caught up in the hype, without stepping back and assessing the information for ourselves. Australia could have saved 12 billion dollars in preparation for Y2K if we had instead sat back and watched the clouds roll over the horizon. 

Samuel’s optical obfuscation led me to look elsewhere – inwards. I’m only 18 months from Kronos’s first visit, at 29, and I sit back wondering if I could listen to my body so I won’t be revisited by Saturn’s advice, twice, when I’m 58.

Priscilla showed us how she now soars to new heights in Rostrum. No longer running, walking or crawling, she is flying high with public speaking – only time will tell how high. Her touching, heartfelt account of her journey from Vietnam was the first amble forward, crawling towards a new tomorrow. She shared her triumphant struggle to overcome persecution, racism and sexism, and a reminder to move forward and leave discrimination behind.

Joanna’s speech made me shudder to think of the seductive allure many young people succumb to in sharing sensitive selfies. With over three and a half trillion images out there, are we ready to have the conversation with our children about sharing intimate images?

Our night saw definitions abolished, ideas shared, and demonstrated that we’re always learning. Some speakers soar, some would rather skedaddle (at least to begin with…), some take it in their stride and others scrabble for words. As the quality of the finalists’ presentations showed, regardless of where you start from, Rostrum will always guide you towards becoming a confident, competent speaker.

Luke Matthews, Vice President & Past President, Rostrum WA