Penned by Paul Goodman for its 20th Anniversary Celebration on 17 June 2016 – with reference to the Competent Communication manual
Welcome all you speakers (whether old hands or brand new)
We’re a group of people who are tailor-made for you
Our start point is a handbook of ten projects (each discrete)
With a badge that marks you “competent”, when the programme is complete.
Everyone commences with a form of their CV
Built from just those highlights to be offered orally
This “breaks the ice” quite gently: no research but notes allowed
To an audience supportive (a smiling, friendly crowd).
Secondly comes structure: beginning, middle, close
While thirdly, put quite bluntly, there’s little point to prose
Unless it meets a purpose: inform? or entertain?
On a topic that’s specific, so the message is quite plain.
Then it’s “How to say it”, when one’s writing for the ear
Techniques (including rhetoric) to keep the meaning clear
Not forgetting body language in the speaker’s “box of tools”
Such as facial expression and the key eye contact rules.
Having reached the halfway mark, it’s voice that’s now “on stage”
Are tone and pitch adjusted so they’re likely to engage?
When offering the details to support a point of view
That flows from both rehearsal and thorough research too.
Effective use of visual aids comprises project eight
Leading to persuasion with words that carry weight
Before the final session where inspiring earns the votes
From a speech delivered crisply without any trace of notes.
Regular attendance at Club meetings offers roles
That also hone one’s speaking skills (or work to other goals)
The “Emcee” of the evening (for example) will aspire
To harmonised proceedings – think orchestra (or choir).
This calls for people management, quick thinking, sense of mood
As does evaluation where asperity’s eschewed
In commenting as critic after listening with great care
To recommend improvements based on findings that are fair.
So if it’s public speaking where proficiency is needed
Follow the advice that a growing host have heeded
By joining West Herts. Speakers: where our members all agree
Their progress can speak for itself, when it comes to oratory.
(Some of you may have read the coded message – to others the hint is to look at the paragraphs one by one.)