What Makes a Great Rostrum Meeting or Event?
The past couple of months have been great to celebrate Rostrum and have given me this month’s topic.
In the second half of March I was Guest Critic at Club 52 in Mandurah and Club 1/2. Club 52 was celebrating their 400thmeeting and had invited their past members who, along with the regulars, ensured there was a good sized audience. My wife and I were warmly welcomed by club members and made to feel part of the meeting. The meeting opened with a ‘Singing Reggae Lion’ –you had to see it to believe it! Other items included a word definition exercise, where both definitions were so good that, for the first time ever, I couldn’t choose between them, and a ‘Who Am I?’ exercise, with quality presentations. We had a great evening.
The Club 1/2 meeting was also different, themed around the Perth Waterfront and culminating in a mini debate. I also participated in the inauguration of two new members, taking them up to four new members this year and they’ve added more since then.
It’s great to see clubs add variety to their programs; it’s what keeps members coming back for more. New members, plus invitations to previous members on special occasions, and interesting and varied programs are what keep clubs alive.
The first Rostrum highlight of the year came at the end of April– Club 15’s ANZAC Day Great Debate. This was their 15thyear and it certainly deserves recognition. I’ve attended a few before (not all 15) and even participated in (and won!) the Debate. It’s good to have something early in the year where members from different clubs can meet and socialise. On top of that it’s a well-run event, encompassing both an iconic Australian celebration and a ‘fun’ Rostrum exercise. Well done, Club 15, long may it continue.
We’ve just had two events with strong input by Peter Martindale, National Director, Marketing and Membership, from South Australia. We weren’t disappointed! For the AGM Dais meeting on 4 May he prepared a very different approach in the form of a story–the story of the reinvention of his old club in SA, which he re-joined after a 10 year break. He wasn’t impressed by what he found –10 or 12 original members, doing the same things in the same old way with few visitors and no new members. Sound familiar? He took us through the stages of the club’s rebirth–the Old, the New, steps to Making a New Club and The Outcome: a revitalised club with 30 members and regular visitors. His paper will be up on the web in the near future, or email me for a copy.
The Rostrum Autumn Convention was on 5 May. ‘If you didn’t go, you missed a treat’. Those who attended had a great day! Wollaston is a terrific venue, with great food and friendly, unobtrusive professional staff. Terry O’Meara and the Club 15 team built an entertaining and informative program with speakers from within and from outside Rostrum. The pace was comfortable, the content varied, with fun interspersed with informative items, and choice provided with three breakout sessions.
The highlights for me were the interactive Club workshops following Peter’s marketing and membership presentation, Freeman David Price’s Hot Seat Coaching, and the Q&A session, modelled on the ABC TV programme. Everyone played their part well and Mark Roberts, as MC, was excellent in keeping things flowing. I particularly liked his comment to the audience at one stage– ‘You’re only supposed to ask a question, not give us a speech but what else can you expect from Rostrum’.
What all this adds up to is reviewing your club meeting or event to ensure they meet the criteria for success, which are: venue, programme, sociability, promotion/marketing and management. Drop me an email for more info, or see page 7.
The Speaker of the Year heats are coming up in June and July. You’ve received the entry form (if you’ve ‘misplaced’ it, there’s another on the back page) –fill it in and get involved! If this is not your year to compete, make sure you attend the heats to support those who do, especially if they’re from your club. It’s a bit lonely speaking in a different club without support. Put the date for the Final in your diary or calendar NOW. Saturday 6 October–Speaker of the Year Final and Rostrum Dinner.
Also in June/July we’ll have the Critics’ Training Course. If you’ve reached a plateau or want to give something back, have a go. You’ll benefit as a speaker as well. Details will be distributed via the Rostrum Information Centre. Lots happening, just make sure you get involved. Without your support, events won’t happen!
Freeman Tony Lightman, President, Rostrum WA
Rostrum Club 15 ANZAC Day Great Debate
The 2012 Rostrum Club 15 annual ANZAC Day breakfast was yet another successful day. Almost 100 Rostrum members and guests attended the breakfast at the Ascot Quays in Belmont at 8am on 25 April. An excellent turnout, fine venue and comprehensive buffet breakfast contributed to the success and enjoyment.
Master of Ceremonies, Damien Roberts, introduced Club 15 President Terry O’Meara who welcomed everyone and opened the event. The traditional segment of the meeting included the National Anthem, Ode, Last Post, one minute’s silence and Reveille to pay our respects to those service men and women who fought and died for their country. Roxanne Pendreigh, Sarah Bellow and Charles Bellow read the ANZAC tributes.
The keynote speaker, Mike Galvin, had researched in detail the topic of‘ Beasts of Burden in the AIF’ and subsequently enthralled the audience with tales of horses, camels and donkeys throughout Australia’s military campaigns. Mike is a noted military historian who provided insights into the feats of these animals of which most people would not have been aware. Of course, probably the most well know animal, Simpson’s donkey, received due recognition.
The topic of the Great Debate was ‘That Women are Superior to Men in Psychological Warfare’. Chairman of Debate, Todd Mc Sweeney, introduced the speakers with characteristic wit and humour.
Both Club 33 (Affirmative) and Club 11 (Negative) put up strong arguments and presentations to entertain an audience eagerly awaiting the debate. Steve Longwood began by introducing his Club 33 team of Yen Tran and Andy Cairns as well as setting the scene for his team’s argument.
Carmel Markham opened for Club 11 and introduced Joanne Whitney and Susan L’Herpiniere and setup the team’s argument involving the use of mind games by men, and women’s minimal psychological influence in the military.
There was plenty of strong rebuttal and humour to keep the audience entertained and wanting more. The Rostrum skills were certainly evident in such a close contest, which was eventually won by the Negative side, Club 11. Congratulations to all who participated in what was truly a Great Debate.
You’d better put 25 April in your diaries for next year as Club 11 will be defending their trophy and won’t want to give it up.
Mark Roberts, Club 15
Foothills Club 11 South of the River Speaking Competition
Carmel Markham (Club 11) won the 2nd annual Foothills Club 11 South of the River Speaking Competition on Wednesday 23 May at the Mud Hut in Kenwick.
In her speech, ‘You can’t always get what you want’, Carmel described how, after suffering grazed knees and elbows after falling off a bicycle she ‘borrowed’ from her sister during a childhood holiday at Rottnest, and repeating the experience with a motorcycle some years later, in the end she got what her husband thought she needed–a car of her own.
Iain Mason (Club 15) presented a thoroughly researched and thought- provoking defence of free speech in ‘Shades of Grey’. Greg Leech (Club 50) reminisced on the meaning of the lyrics of the Rolling Stones ’‘You can’t always get what you want’ and conceded that in the end you get what you need– life is what happens while you’re making other plans, so accept it.
Carmel received the John Barton trophy for her win. Freeman John Barton, a founder of Club 11 in the 1960s, had a vision to ‘improve the speaking ability of all who enter here’. The competition is open to novice speakers from Rostrum clubs situated south of the river.
In addition to three entertaining speeches, members and guests enjoyed a hilarious impromptu Balloon Debate, some passionate answers to the PQ, a tasty meal (and cake!) and the opportunity to mingle with friends.
Rostrum WA Autumn Convention
Judging from the positive feedback the Rostrum Autumn Convention on Saturday 5 May at the Wollaston Conference Centre was a resounding success for Coordinator Terry O’Meara and his organising team. Forty five members, many of them new to Rostrum, watched, listened, laughed, learned and participated their way through the day’s programme which included presentations by Rostrum members and guest speakers, workshops, an interactive ‘hypothetical’ panel discussion, the ever-popular Critics Idol and a ‘live’ coaching session. From the opening keynote to the windup over drinks and nibbles, it was enjoyable and worthwhile.
Organisational psychologist Paul Katris’s keynote address on ‘Influence and Persuasion’ explored a hot topic in business. HR departments are just as likely to be interested in your level of personal influence and capacity to persuade others, as in your practical skills. Paul discussed six weapons of influence, seven principals of persuasion, creating empathy with the audience, good body language, and keeping the message simple … in fact, exactly what Rostrum teaches.
Carmel Philippe Shugg, also an organisational psychologist, continued the theme with ‘Selling Yourself in Interviews’, discussing the imperative of making a good first impression, building rapport, sending a consistent message, displaying self confidence and showing passion for what you do. Still on the subject of business, Jani Murphy provided tips to manage emails, including the ‘email pipeline to an empty inbox’.
The importance of knowing the audience and adjusting your style to suit its expectations was the topic of Todd Mc Sweeney’s presentation, whilst Terry O’Meara gave useful insights on how to hold audience attention.
Carol Brands revealed that being able to speak confidently involves more than merely researching the material and practising delivery. At the other end of the spectrum, Mike Kapitola shared tactics for preparing for the ‘unpreparable’ –the dreaded impromptu– and how ‘thinking in 3s’ and mind mapping can make the task easier. John Broons demonstrated the depth of knowledge of his subject and the value of preparation when his props failed and he continued regardless, smiling confidently as he described how to get the most out of search engines and email alerts.
The Convention was not all about learning new things, however. Critics Idol tested the critics’ skills. Five critics independently presented a critique of a speech by Sara Gagliardi. The winner was Mike Middendorp who proved he still has what it takes to be an exceptionally good critic, having won Idol last year as well.
The Q&A session had all the ingredients for FUN: a panel comprising a developer (Damien Roberts), an activist (Frank Butler), the Minister for Planning (Karen Reid), the President of the RSL (Phil Otley), a rep from the Chamber of Commerce (Carol Brands) and the Archbishop (Ken Holzman); a scenario (an application to build a McDonalds restaurant in King’s Park); a vocal audience and MC Mark Roberts trying to keep the peace one minute, and fuelling the fire the next. Better than the TV!
The Hot Seat Coaching session had David Price, helped by four volunteers demonstrating how to connect with the audience by using deliberate and dramatic pauses, speech openings that build speaker credibility, and gestures, which are consistent with what is being said. For the most part, these are things, which an audience responds to, but is not quite sure why–it was a revealing session.
Are you up for a Challenge?
It’s fantastic to see that we’ve had a net increase of 17 members over the last two months, bringing us to a total of 303 members across WA. A warm welcome to all our new members! I hope that you gain as much value and enjoyment from your Rostrum journey as I have. To my mind, it’s still the best value public speaking training you can buy. We often focus on what new members get from Rostrum, but they give a great deal too. I find that with every new member at Club 19, we get an injection of enthusiasm and energy that continues to keep the club vibrant. I always anticipate hearing a new speaker’s ‘About Me ‘speech–everyone tackles this differently but it’s such a privilege to get a glimpse inside people’s lives. I’m always delighted to uncover hidden interests and hobbies that belie my first impressions of people–from Flamenco dancers, to ironing enthusiasts to marathon runners!
Congratulations to all clubs that have already signed up new members this year. Keep up the great work!
If your club is keen to grow its membership, you might like to try out some of these ideas from other WA clubs:
- Hold a designated Visitor’s Night, where every member is encouraged to bring along a visitor (and potential member). Club 15 have had success with this method.
- Look around your workplace for colleagues who may benefit from public speaking experience. Offer to bring them along for an obligation free taste of what Rostrum can deliver.
- Speak to your HR department about recommending Rostrum as a development tool for staff who need to improve their communication skills in meetings or groups. They may be willing to distribute promotional materials (we can provide these) or post information on the company intranet. They may even consider subsidising staff attendance. Club 19 have had success with this method.
- If you have a visitor at your club, remember that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Go easy on the hard sell! Your best advertisement will always be a well run meeting, quality critics who balance constructive feedback with support, and an environment that leaves not just visitors but all members feeling welcome, included, respected and appreciated.
Finally, if you genuinely value your Rostrum experience, don’t be shy in telling others. From your vast network of friends, family, colleagues and associates, is there one potential new Rostrum member you can think of? If every one of our 303 members converted just one person they know to a new member, we’d double our numbers in a year! We’re calling this the One for One Challenge–are you up for it?
Marianne McAdam, Vice President and Director, Marketing & Membership
Tips and Tools for Success
- Find a permanent meeting place in a convenient location, which is easy for visitors to find, pleasant to be in and where you can display a sign and posters.
- Consider availability of a meal and beverages–it may determine whether a member stays in the club, or a visitor joins.
- Ensure meetings are relevant with clear objectives and agendas. Survey members to determine what they like and what they consider irrelevant.
- Develop interesting meeting agendas which include a variety of speaking exercises such as prepared and impromptu speeches, workshops and tutorials, debates, interviews, play or poetry readings, meeting procedure and themed meetings. Use the resources on the Australian Rostrum website.
- Schedule special events and topics to stimulate discussion and include non-rostered members and visitors. Use Freeman David Price’s book to introduce fun and challenging exercises.
- Conduct speaking competitions within the club to give members experience in competitive speaking.
- Hold joint meetings with other clubs to boost numbers, get exposure to other speakers’ methods and styles, and build rapport. Promote the event.
- Invite Critics, Freemen, Rostrum leaders and outside speakers to conduct special interest workshops–and promote them to other clubs and the community.
- Keep long-term members engaged with challenges rather than assigning the usual agenda items.
- Help new members by appointing a mentor for them, especially during the PDP, assigning simpler exercises and providing helpful, positive critiques.
- Distribute the agenda well in advance and encourage members to be punctual and to come prepared for meetings.
- The critic/coach is important to the growth of the club and should be in synch with the club’s culture. He or she should also be prepared to point out problems in the club and offer suggestions to overcome them. Encourage members to do critic training to help them become better speakers.
- Determine what has worked elsewhere; visit other clubs and share ideas. What could you learn from ‘Club of Excellence’ clubs?
- Foster an inclusive atmosphere in the club–look after all members, whether committed or not, young or not so young, new or long term.
- Keep in touch by circulating a contact list amongst members, and chase up absentees.
- Encourage social interaction with special events such as a bbq or picnic, sports outing, Christmas function or a weekend away.
- Welcome visitors, introduce them to members and explain the meetings to them. Follow up after the meeting, but avoid ‘hounding’ them.
- Control powerful personalities in the club as they may discourage visitors from returning.
PROMOTION AND MARKETING
- Promotion and marketing are high priority activities and should be ongoing to be effective. Identify what makes your club special and promote that aspect.
- Compile a Visitor Information Kit–it demonstrates to visitors that the club is well organised. Have nomination forms and induction materials always on hand. Send agenda and notices of coming events to visitors and guests, and follow up.
- Promote the club in the local area. Prepare and distribute eye-catching signs, posters and flyers for display in businesses, shops, libraries, public areas and council offices. Let businesses know what Rostrum training can offer their staff.
- Advertise in the local newspaper– it’s usually free.
- Advertise your club in another organisation’s newsletter–and return the favour.
- Use the internet. Create/update your website with photos, directions to meeting location, agendas, special events and blogs. Post to it regularly to keep content current. Consider including a youtube clip.
- Investigate social media for promotion and marketing and enlist younger members to run this to keep it current and ‘live’.
- Chase up former member sand invite them to re-join; have a reunion meeting.
- Seek out possible sources of new members amongst university students and past RVOY participants. Encourage young people to join by subsidising students and the unemployed.
- Be passionate in promoting Rostrum–stress the importance of practical experience and learning by doing.
- Seek local sponsorship and apply for community grants for events in which the community can participate and at which you can promote Rostrum and your club.
- The President, Secretary, Membership Officer and Treasurer have the responsibility to manage the club. As a member, speak up if you are not happy with the discipline in the club.
- The President must take the initiative and inspire members, lead by example and make visitors feel welcome.
- The committee must plan the year’s broad schedule of events, set membership targets and encourage all members to participate.
- Nurture newer members and encourage them to take on leadership roles when ready.
- Regularly review the club’s management, venue, programme, promotion and marketing.
- Remember that members are a club’s greatest asset–always look after them. It is easier to retain than recruit.
Compiled from Freeman Peter Martindale’s presentations at the AGM and Convention, and the club workshops session.