Autumn Convention 2011
The morning of Saturday 22 May dawned bright and crisp, and high on the hill in Claremont the Rostrum faithful gathered for fun, fellowship and learning at the Autumn Convention. Vice President Marianne McAdam launched the full-day programme of keynote speakers and informative tutorial-type presentations. The events, which proved so popular at the last Convention –the Novice and Open Impromptu speaking competitions, and the Critics’ Idol –, were keenly contested, along with a new exercise, the Speaking
Extravaganza, which provided even more opportunity for mental gymnastics.
There was something to test everyone’s skill, to laugh at, or to learn at every session. For example, did you know that you need five ladders to climb Mt Everest? Or that it’s good to have a comedian at your table if you’re giving a speech? That it’s a myth we use only 10% of our brain? Words are better in your mouth than on a
slide? Did you hear the report about a ‘speaker down because
the bullets were flying everywhere’? No? Then be sure to attend Convention next year.
Vice President Marianne McAdam with winners Carol Aitken (Novice Impromptu and Speaking Extravaganza, top), Joanna Whitney
(Open Impromptu, above) and Michael Middendorp
(Critics’ Idol, right).
All photos in this issue by Rick Staker (11) and Rose Fogliani
Some thoughts on the Convention
Hi to all Rostrum Members,
This is an open letter expressing my gratitude to Freeman David Price and his band of helpers for the very professional and educational Rostrum 2011 Convention.
The 6 (including myself) Club 52 Members who attended this event were impressed with the quality and diversity of the invited speakers. The first Ed Bradley took us from the peak of Everest to the precise point of the South Pole and then through the training he had to do to achieve these incredible feats. The second Jani Murphy showing us the pitfalls of too much information on Power Point, shooting down the use of bullets and then showing us how powerful this form of lecturing can be when done right.
Then Dr. Jenny Brockis in very graphic form quashed some of the myths about the brain that we have believed as true over our life time. One of these is the belief that we can do more than two things at once. You are so wrong if you think you can listen to a speaker or drive a car and still fiddle with your phone or iPod and hear or drive at 100%–it can’t be done.
We went to Greece with David Koutsoukis and learnt how to entertain your audience while educating them. We clapped, danced with the fiddler, did the Mexican Wave, patted the person seated each side on the shoulder, shook hands with new friends and all the time ‘Having Fun’. The last speaker David Beard then showed us how little most of us know about our own bodies and why we should do the most simple exercises each day, walk, ride a bike and even do 20 push ups each day; all my muscles ached the next day just from listening to him.
A number of other sessions where you could choose to go to where Carol Brands spoke on the ‘World of Theatre and Stage’, Karen Reid and her team spoke on tips and tricks for competition speaking and two or three other groups had advice to share.
I must say the impromptu speaking competitions were of a very high class and the Novice speakers were exceptional. When it came to an all in impromptu brawl Freeman David had such a large array of subject matter that he could draw on, the exercise could have gone on for days. There were hats, card tricks, gremlins, a subject on body piecing, throw the dice, ‘who am I?’ and many, many more that weren’t even used.
Whilst the programme was a full one, the whole day was run at a very leisurely pace and no one seemed to be exhausted at the close.
What I find hard to believe is that an event like this was almost cancelled because of the lack of interest from members. Two weeks before Saturday there were fewer than the 40 bookings required to break even and finally only just over the 50 attended. I doubt whether Freeman David and the people who helped him will bother to waste their energy and time next year on such a thankless job of putting together something that doesn’t seemed to be appreciated or wanted by the majority.
Ever since I have been in Rostrum (I joined in 1964), and before, there has been an Autumn Convention and up until a couple of years ago they were over a period of two days. Last years event was cancelled, why, because of lack of bookings. If there isn’t more interest shown and these hard working people throw in the towel, the 2011 Convention will be the last. To have been able to get together the Venue, the caterers, the wonderful diversity of Speakers would not have been easy and could not have been done in less than 6 months and then to have to cancel would have been heart breaking for them.
So do we want a Convention? If we do then I think we owe it to the people who care to say yes I will be along next year and my Club will support it to the hilt. If not, then tell those same people no, we don’t want this yearly event any more, so they don’t have to waste their precious time and energy and can spend it instead with their families.
Enjoy your Rostrum Club Sincerely
Freeman Graeme Byass, Club 52
Q & A with Vice President Marianne McAdam
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a 30-something (ok, 40- something) married, mother of two. I work as a Human Resources Director and I’ve recently joined the Rostrum Board as Vice President and Director of Communications. I’ve been a member of Club 19 for about 3 years.
Why did you join Rostrum?
My story is similar to other Rostrum members I talk to. I joined because
I thought I would become more effective and more successful at work if I improved my public speaking skills. So much of being a successful leader is about being able to connect with people through spoken words – whether that’s inspiring employees to follow a change in company strategy, winning a new customer, working through a tough negotiation or convincing the Managing Director to allocate more of the budget to my department. Great public speaking skills will help you with all of these things.
What keeps you at Rostrum?
I find that the Club 19 meetings I attend are both useful and fun. I get regular practice and feedback at each meeting, and that continues to make me a better speaker. I also get to start my Fridays with a laugh. Rostrum is a creative outlet and there’s usually something humorous happening – we’ve had a ‘Do Blondes Have More Fun?’ debate, a mock wedding, ‘Call My Bluff’ exercises and even a PQ of ‘Boxers or Briefs’ (complete with a demonstration). More recently, I also want to make a positive difference through my role as Vice President and Director of Communications.
What challenges does Rostrum face?
Our biggest challenge is a Public Relations challenge – people don’t know how good Rostrum is! In fact, many people don’t even know Rostrum exists. So we need to do a better job of getting that message out there, and we’re starting to do that with things like the website revamp and our first steps into social media like Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. If people knew how good we are I think it would be easier to overcome our second biggest challenge which is increasing our membership. We’re asking all clubs to ‘Find 5’ new members to grow our membership to 400 this year.
South of the River Speaking Competition
On Wednesday 25 May Foothills Rostrum Club 11 hosted the inaugural South of the River Speaking Competition for members who have been in Rostrum for up to four years. Speakers from five southern clubs each presented a six- minute prepared speech on one of three topics in a bid to win the John Barton Perpetual Trophy.
Joanna Whitney (Club 11), fresh from her win in the Open Impromptu Speaking Competition at the Convention, was judged the winner with her speech ‘Rainbows’ about sending hope to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Tim Parker (50) also spoke about ‘Rainbows’ and Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment on Robben Island. Tony Park (52), on the topic ‘On a Wing and a Prayer’, spoke about some close shaves with the Lancaster bombers during World War II. Caroline Campbell-Watt (17) also favoured a war story, speaking about the carrier pigeons that delivered messages across enemy lines ‘On a Wing and a Prayer’. Sarah Bellow (15) changed the pace with a fable about a cat named ‘Sweet Dreams’ that chose not to take the easy way and in the process discovered courage.
Congratulations to Joanna on a great win and to all the speakers for entertaining us with their inspired speeches. Thanks to the members of their home clubs who attended in support or participated in the programme, and to the Foothills Club for hosting the event.
Freeman John Barton, after whom the trophy is named, was an important figure in Foothills Rostrum Club 11’s history. A founding member of Foothills Rostrum Club 22 (which met in Gosnells) in 1964, he was also a founding member of the current Foothills Rostrum Club 11, which formed when Club 22 amalgamated with Armadale Club 11 in 1977. In the 1980s he served for several terms as Club President and Programme Director at Club 11 and introduced the Clubman of the Year Award (now the Club Merit Award). He was also Chairman of Critics’ Council. In the 1990s he helped establish the original Club 52.
Club of Excellence Awards
The winners of the (R) Alan Crook Award for metropolitan clubs and the David Price Award for country clubs will be announced at the Arthur Garvey Speaker of the Year Final on 12 November. The awards recognise strong, successful clubs which can demonstrate in their submissions that they are worthy of being called ‘a club of excellence’ and to be an example for other clubs. There are no strict guidelines for the submissions, but clubs should be able to show that they provide effective education and training in public speaking for their members, as well as opportunities to practise these skills at all levels, and activities to promote fellowship within the club and to promote Rostrum in the community. Refer to the Jan/Feb 2011 issue of The Informer for ideas. This year’s awards cover the period October 2010 to September 2011 so it’s time to start preparing those submissions!!
Yet another challenge is ensuring that we remain relevant. We need to continually review and ask ourselves how well we are meeting the needs of our current and prospective members. And, if necessary, make changes to better meet those needs.