A Typical Meeting
At Birmingham International Speakers, we like to think of our meetings as “fun evenings” with valuable educational and self-belief spin-offs.
Every speakers club has its own personality and Birmingham leans towards high energy, competitive and often lively group sessions. We average 12 to 14 attendees per meeting with some guests or friends of members popping along to see what we do. Most guests soon want to get involved and become members but others have stayed “friends” of the club and visit only on the special evenings just to add their presence and encourage their sponsor.
In the majority of our sessions a member of the Board provides a Club Report, which updates the members on club funds and forthcoming events. Some of these events are social evenings and therefore very informal, others, such as inter-club speech competitions and debates require a greater degree of formality and we like to enter fully into the spirit of such occasions.
The format of a typical club meeting can vary quite a bit but most of our normal meetings tend to include four main elements:
- Two to four prepared speeches of 5-8 minutes, which are timed and evaluated so that members can learn from their experience. This evaluation is seen as real positive feedback as members strive for constant improvement in their performances.
- After coffee there is normally a workshop, prepared and delivered by a chosen member or by an invited speaker, to demonstrate a certain approach to communication or to educate the group with very specific techniques. These workshops can be formal training sessions or indeed often group involvement sessions.
- The club update
- Learning and development – our meetings end with four questions to help each individual reflect on what they have gained from the evening’s meeting.
The sight of adults trying to communicate via mime or enacting the spoken word through a visual picture is a sight to bring tears to most people’s eyes. And the recent Speed Debating certainly got twenty people rising in their seats and quickly counteracting claims from the opposing sides with great gusto. On another occasion we held a Poetry evening and many people present were amazed at the talent that suddenly blossomed that night.
Most meetings commence at 7.30pm and normally finish at 9.40 before the opportunity for a social drink in the Bar downstairs.
As the club is essentially about speaking, all members take turns to perform the meeting ‘functionary’ roles that include Programme Presenter, Evaluator and Timekeeper; these are also opportunities to develop certain skills for use within the world of business
There is a quarterly planning session when all the ideas put forward are considered and, when possible, planned into one of the next 6 meetings. All members contribute to the planning ideas, which helps to keep the meetings interesting and challenging.