Training session at speakers’ club

President Edwin Petrie of Blairgowrie welcomed sixteen members and two guests to last week’s meeting of the Strathmore Speakers Club.

Edwin then invited Jim Smith of Kirriemuir to chair the training session which consisted of three speeches followed by evaluations.

He was assisted by David Affleck of Kirriemuir in the role of timekeeper for the evening.

The first speech was given by Helen Gordon-Wilson of Blairgowrie who chose as her title ‘Disintegration’.

This was a ‘use of notes’ speech in which the speaker has to provide a set of notes to the evaluator in advance, and these are checked independently to monitor how closely the speaker sticks to them.

Helen described the European Union method of helping underdeveloped member countries restructure their economies and the range of measures they employed.

She went on to explain the flexible interpretation of the rules for entry to the Eurozone they had adopted in 1999 when admitting five new countries to the Euro.

These were the five countries which are still struggling and have brought a crisis to the Eurozone which, in the worst scenario, could yet lead to its disintegration.

Iain Orr of Kirriemuir evaluated, saying that Helen had undoubtedly passed this assignment.

She had a calm manner at the lectern, spoke in a clear voice and had followed her notes well without giving any impression of reading them. Her eye contact had been good and she had even managed to introduce occasional humour into what was a serious subject.

Next to the lectern was Jim Gibb of Blairgowrie, who gave a ‘lecture’ with the title ‘White Skin’. This turned out to be the story of the prolific American Author Edgar Rice Burroughs, the creator of Tarzan of the Apes. This was a man of extraordinary skills, author, artist, poet, letter writer, who even became a press war correspondent at the age of 67 when he found himself in Honolulu during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.

In awarding a pass, Pamela Howat of Coupar Angus congratulated Jim on the way he had delivered his talk, starting with an overview, then picking out interesting parts of Burroughs’ life and works, and making sure that there were no loose ends. His delivery and manner at the lectern were exactly what we would expect from such an experienced speaker.

Third up was Eric Summers of Kirriemuir with a mini power-point lecture entitled ‘What the Dickens?’ On the very day of his 200th anniversary, Eric talked about Charles Dickens, whom he described as the greatest writer of his time. His harsh early life in North London, where he was put in digs and had to work in a Blacking Factory at the age of 12, undoubtedly influenced his serious novels about the horrible conditions in Victorian times. Father of ten children, he lived a remarkably busy life, surviving a train crash in 1865 and dying of a massive stroke at the age of 58.

In his evaluation Graham Carr of Alyth said that this was a definite pass from another advanced speaker. Eric had been relaxed and spoke without notes, occasionally referring to the pictures he was presenting on the screen, introducing little touches of humour and carrying his audience along with him. This was obviously a shortened version of a longer and more detailed lecture on Charles Dickens.

Muriel Smith of Kirriemuir chaired the Topics Session. She invited six members to speak for three minutes each at short notice on the theme of ‘ideas and plans’, asking them to elaborate on their ideas for the subjects she gave them.

Marion Wallace of Kirriemuir gambled on ‘a good night on the town’; Ted Williams of Kirriemuir had ‘a perfect evening at home’; David Howat of Blairgowrie was unenthusiastic about a ‘great holiday in the sun’; Pamela Howat went polar for ‘a good holiday in colder climes’; Andrew Buist of Alyth settled on Barcelona v Real Madrid as his ‘ideal sporting trip’; and Bill Walker of Blairgowrie had no difficulty in ‘entertaining grandchildren for a whole day’.

General evaluator Edwin Petrie said it had been a successful and enjoyable evening with excellent speeches, perceptive evaluations, good chairmanship and very competent topic takers.

Anyone who would like more information about learning to speak in public in the friendly atmosphere of a speakers club should contact Jim Smith on Kirriemuir (01575) 574435 or Jim Gibb on 01250 875262.