With the kind help and support of John McGhee of the Swindon Speakers’ Club, Fiona Brennan-Scott has been able to set up a school club where she works in West Berkshire. The Downs School Speaker’s Club is therefore the first of its kind affiliated to the ASC. It has been running since September 2014 and has 12 fairly dedicated members which comprises mostly of students, but also a few interested staff members.
There were several adjustments to make from a regular meeting, mainly because we have 35 minutes at lunchtime instead of the usual evening set aside for Speakers’ Club. But Fiona also added a few awards and tweaks which she thought would add appeal. “The first originates from the Toastmasters’ Club I belonged to in South Africa. A Wooden Spoon is awarded to the attendee who does the most stirring, makes a mistake or three, or creates the most laughter or controversy in a meeting,” explains Fiona, who was a member of the Oasis Club, Edenvale in South Africa.
As there is only have time for two prepared speeches, the Trophy is awarded to the best contribution to the meeting. This could be any role and has probably been the Chair as often as a Table Topics, Prepared Speaker or evaluator. This is decided by nomination via email and announced at the start of each meeting.
Fiona has also added Wordmaster, where the Chair introduced a word to be used as much as possible throughout the meeting and tracked by the Chair. A dictionary is then symbolically presented to the winner before the Chair hands back to the President.
These prizes have been great to encourage and add excitement to the meeting while we build up the required skills, roles and speeches to receive the more prestigious awards. On Wednesday 11th February, Ms Preston, Head of Teaching and Learning at our school visited the 16th Speakers’ Club meeting and made a special presentation.
Sophia Vaughan, a founder member of the club, is the first student to have completed all the roles required to be award the Certificate of Leadership. Sophia has delivered her first three speeches from the ASC manual, evaluated at least two speeches of other members and taken on the roles of Chair, Timekeeper, Topics Chair, General Evaluator and delivered at least one Table Topics’ speech.
Sophia has grown in confidence with speaking in public in the nurturing and fun environment of Speakers’ Club but she has also in grown leadership ability as she has taken on each role and done it to the best of her ability. She is a valued member of the club and I look forward to seeing more members following in her footsteps.
The club looks forward to the first member receiving the Interim Certificate of Achievement, awarded to the students who complete their first five prepared speeches. As with all ASC meetings, members proceed at their own pace and there is no pressure on anyone to take on a role or speak in weekly meetings.
Fiona added, “I would like to take this opportunity to thank John and the ASC for their support in letting me get this club off the ground and being very flexible in letting me adapt it to the needs of the students whilst still maintaining the high standards of the ASC.”