Hello blog readers out there. I must say I didn't half enjoy Monday evening at the Circle this week. Everybody entered into the spirit of the evening - some dressed in suitably weird fancy dress, with the pumpkin lantern casting spooky shadows on the walls which was a great back drop to my speciality rendering of the 'Fall of the House of Usher', which, as you probably know, was one of Edgar Allen Poe's masterly horror short stories. More fantastic stories and personal memories of haunted houses, ghostly apparitions etc. were presented to great acclaim from our enthusiastic members and guests. After more quizzes and group problem solving, we were pleased to sample the delicious spread of Halloween goodies. Indeed a most enjoyable night. Just a reminder to any of you out there who might wonder about the location of Belfast. We are based here in sunny Northern Ireland's capital city, not Belfast in Maine, USA! Our Secretary, Maureen, received a request for a speaker from that part of the world ! We do hope more of you, who live considerably nearer, might venture along some Monday evening to our meetings. You will be most welcome.
Halloween Party Night.........
Sight-Reading Practice Evening.
Hello members of Belfast Speakers' Circle and any potential new members out there. This week, members appreciated the opportunity to practise the very useful skill of sight-reading, very ably adjudicated by Ann. I'm sure most of you remember how boring it can be when someone reads to you in a dull monotonous tone with a deadpan expression and their face buried in a book . So this evening, the challenge was to have a brief sight of a text, and then launch in, remembering the skills of voice pitch, pace, intonation etc. in order to bring the piece vividly to life. Another skill which produces a more memorable delivery is to memorize phrases, look up from the book, and make eye contact with your audience. This needs calmness and focus of course. The reading passages chosen for this activity were varied, thought-provoking, and entertaining and included: advice on cultivating passion to excel in an activity, not to talk about oneself but of others, the positive aspects of breaking a mirror, the art of stage rage and many more. At the end of this activity, Ann complimented members on their skills and pointed out some minor yet common faults, like speaking too quickly, over or under emphasis etc.
The Secretary, Maureen, then reminded everyone that next week , 28th October, was the Hallow'een Party night, and there was some discussion around food, and entertainment activities. So if you wish to come along and enjoy this event, you will be made very welcome. Directions to our event, near the centre of Belfast are on this website. Looking forward to next week, and hope to see you there!
Extempore speaking night!
Once again the Circle was pleased to see a good turn out of members last Monday evening. President Barry welcomed everyone and then led a discussion, asking for reminisces about what people liked about last week. Members shared a variety of views about what made a speech stand out in their memory. Some remembered the style of delivery, the content, the imagery etc. Others thought stories worked well in presentations. For some it was important to have a challenging opening statement or whether or not putting too much emotion into speeches was distracting. One thing we all appreciated was the presence of that added on, unexpected value in a speech - the mysterious X factor. As students of speech-making, we were in quest of this.
Barry went on to outline the idea of the evening's activity for newcomers - extempore speaking. Participants would be handed a list of six topics with fifteen minutes to prepare a short talk of about three to four minutes. The task was an absorbing challenge as the silence in the room proved, then one by one members displayed their skills in presenting a talk with little preparation time.
The topics were wide-ranging and often hilarious, yet thought-provoking on subjects such as : 'Money, money", 'Who I would like to be stuck in a lift with', 'My most frightening moment', 'Charity begins at home', ' If I ruled the world' etc.
There's lots more I could write, but take it from me, last Monday evening was a pleasure and privilege to listen to the speech-making skills of a most interesting and talented group of people. So why not come along and enjoy the experience of expressing your own unique voice
Prepared Speech Night!
The Speakers' Circle was pleased to see a good turn out of members this evening, each prepared to have a go at presenting their prepared speeches from a given list of five titles. The President, Barry, introduced the evening, and as an aid to calming nerves referred to Dale Carnegie's advice which was to apply horse sense to ridding yourself of fear. Winston Churchill also got a mention as he was a great believer in the power of repetition to gain confidence in speaking. Being inspired with these thoughts, Nick was the first to take to the podium - and gave another hilarious talk on the merits of not wrapping kids in cotton wool, but allowing them to experience the iron discipline of Army life. Two of the members talked about the topic of whether or not the Irish and British were too polite for their own good, and also if they should model themselves on the Germans, and just say what you think.! Three members gave very persuasive and inspirational talks on the power of great speeches to change the world. One member spoke eloquently of her life as being her greatest treasure. Four members chose the open-ended and fascinating topic 'If' . So altogether, a most interesting evening, where once again members showed examples of their skills in the art of public speaking. Next week we look forward to an evening of making extempore speeches, where we have sight of the topics for around ten minutes. Definitely a worthwhile evening next Monday, so we look forward to more of you coming along, even just to observe. We're sure you'll be inspired into taking part.
The Belfast Speakers' Circle began its opening session on the 23rd September with an enthusiastic turn out of members and five newcomers who we hope will decide to join us as new members. The topic on the opening night was 'Looking Back'. Members took to the floor and there was a wide variety of short talks on this theme. Whether looking back for many years or just a short while ago, participants talked about their memories of events which took place both at home and across the world ranging from Australia, South Africa and in the UK. The Circle is fortunate to have some very colourful, humourous and most interesting speakers join us, and they certainly contributed to a very successful opening evening.
On the second night, we also enjoyed a good turn out of members and visitors. The President, Barry, led an interesting discussion on our memories of the first nights' talks and why some talks stayed more vividly in our memory. We considered the importance of qualities like humour, clarity of communication, etc. Following that, members enjoyed participating in presentations of a selection of their favourite poems and pieces of prose. Once again, newcomers, gave show stopping performances - in this case an unforgettable rendering of 'the Owl and the Pussycat' from Kristen and a zany Cornish folksong from Nick. We look forward to more of you who are interested in gaining confidence to improve your speaking skills, coming along to our enjoyable and stimulating meetings on Monday evenings from 7.30pm. Full details of our venue are on the website. Looking forward to hearing from yo