Public speaking clubs

Time to join a Speakers Club

We’ve looked at writing your speech, we’ve looked at practising your speech, what next?
You’ve got it… you have to deliver your speech in front of a real live audience.
Calm down, calm down!
I’m not suggesting that you book a spot at the Albert Hall for your first speech, I’m suggesting that you start off in a more relaxed environment. One where you feel safe, comfortable and get lots of support….. sounds to me like a Speakers Club.

“There’s only one proven way to improve at Public Speaking – give speeches. As with any other human endeavor, you get better with experience and practise, so you need opportunities to speak.”
Malcolm KushnerPublic Speaking for Dummies

What is a Speakers Club?

A Speakers Club is a collection of people who get together to practise and improve their Public Speaking and Presentation Skills, simple as that. The club doesn’t even have to be called a Speakers Club… some are and some aren’t.
They are generally educational, non profit organisations, but you have to pay a membership fee, which covers room hire, materials etc.
Most Clubs meet about twice a month and meetings are well structured in order for you to get the most out of a meeting.
Once you are a member of a Speakers Club… you usually speak at every meeting… unless you can produce a note from your mum.
The important thing about all Speakers Clubs is that they are made up of people who want to overcome their fears and improve their Public Speaking skills… just like you and me.

What Speakers Clubs are out there?

There are independent speakers clubs as well as several speakers club organisations. The main organisations are:

  • The Association of Speakers Clubs (ASC) – for clubs throughout the UK.
  • Toastmasters International – for clubs in the UK and internationally.

Both are great organisations that will really help with your Public Speaking. What you need to do is visit a few clubs, talk to the members and see which one you like.
Most clubs allow you a couple of free visits to see if you like them.

“Although all clubs follow a similar basic format, not all clubs are identical. Look for a club that has 15 to 20 members who attend regularly.
And make sure that the speech critiques are more than just supportive; that they give you specific things that you can do to improve.
You might have to check out several clubs before you find the one that’s right for you.”

John CantuSan Francisco comedy coach

Here’s a bit of info about each plus contact details:


Association of Speakers Clubs (ASC)

Association_of_Speakers_Clubs
The Association of Speakers Clubs (ASC) was formed in 1972 and now has about 120 Clubs throughout the UK with approximately 1800 members.
The ASC exists to promote effective speaking, communication, and the conduct of meetings. It is a non-profit organisation uniting groups of individuals into Clubs.
The ASC sets standards which Club members aim to attain in a friendly and supportive atmosphere, produces resources to enable members to practice the techniques of effective communication and runs speaking competitions.

Finding an ASC Club

Head on over to the Association of Speakers Club website and open their Find an ASC Club page and you will see a map of the UK. Click on your area and you will see a map showing all the clubs in that area. Click on a club and contact details will be displayed.

With so many clubs spread across the UK, you should be able to find one near you.


Toastmasters International

Toastmasters_Speakers_Clubs
Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations.
Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organization has more than 250,000 members in more than 12,500 clubs in 106 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience.

Finding a Toastmasters Club

Toastmasters have a great website where you can find a club. Open up their Find a Toastmasters Club page and you will be presented with three drop down lists – follow through the options until you find a club near you.
For example: my options were, United Kingdom / England / Solihull.

What will you learn at a Speakers Club?

london_speakers_club

Speakers clubs are all different but most of them cover….

Prepared speeches

Prepared speeches are the sort of speeches we’re all familiar with. Speeches where you have time to prepare notes and plan what you are going to say.
For your prepared speeches you will generally work your way through a series of assignments such as:

  1. Making a startyour first speech… tell us a bit about yourself
  2. Mean what you sayhow to speak with conviction and passion
  3. Speech constructionmake it easy for the audience to follow your speech
  4. Use of gesturesreinforce your words with dynamic gestures
  5. Use your voicelearn how to vary pace and pitch and how to use… the pause
  6. Vocabulary and word picturesuse words to paint pictures
  7. The use of noteshow to use your notes without losing eye contact
  8. Use of humourhow to make the audience smile… or even laugh
  9. Audience rapporthow to get the audience involved
  10. The Masterpieceputting it all together

Each assignment builds on previous assignments and adds a new skill to your Public Speaking repertoire.

Impromptu speeches

Impromptu speeches are speeches given off the cuff… someone gives you a subject, you walk forward and give a two or three minute speech on that subject. Or for the politicians out there… on a completely different subject.
It’s a bit like real life.
Without any notes, you can concentrate on making eye contact with the audience… a great way to build confidence.

Chairmanship skills

An important skill if you have to chair meetings at work or the local golf club. You have to take charge and lead the audience through the evenings programme.

Evaluations

Whenever you give a speech, you will be evaluated by a more senior member of the Club.
They will tell you what was good about your speech and what could be improved.
As you progress through the Club, you in turn will evaluate the speeches of new members.
A great feature of Speakers Clubs – evaluations.

Learning how to control those nerves

As you work your way through the various assignments, something magical happens…. you begin to realise that you won’t drop dead in front of the audience, you can think under pressure and you have become a confident Public Speaker.
You’ve learned how to control those nerves.

My experience of Speakers Clubs

sans_soici_speakers_club

I’ve been a member of a local Speakers Club for about ten years. Sans Souci Speakers Club an ASC club in Solihull England. My wife spotted an article in the local newspaper so I went along to see what it was all about. I liked what I saw, was made to feel welcome and I joined a couple of weeks later.
When I joined I knew nothing about Public Speaking, but I was told what to do and shown how to do it. My confidence increased in tandem with my knowledge and I’ve never looked back.

Having been through the process, I’m convinced that anyone can master their nerves and become a decent Public Speaker. Including you! Don’t just think about it… do it… join a Speakers Club today.

Can’t find a Speakers Club? Start your own.

There are lots of Speakers Clubs out there but if you can’t find one in your area, why not start a new one?
Fortunately for you… and for me, Farnoosh over at Prolific Living has written a great post on how to start a new Speakers Club.
Farnoosh’s post is aimed at Creating an Advanced Toastmasters Club but many of the principles apply to starting any new Speakers Club.
I’ve listed the key steps below:

  1. Contact governing body, Association of Speakers Clubs (ASC) or Toastmasters – find out what help and advice they can give you.
    The Association of Speakers Clubs has a ““Starting a New Club document” and Toastmasters have a “Start a New Club page”.
  2. Get help from other Speakers Clubs in your area – the governing bodies will supply you with contact details of other Speakers Clubs in your area. Contact them, they are always ready to help new clubs.
  3. Find out what funds are available for setting up a new Speakers Club – you will need funds for advertising, setting up a Website, booking a meeting room etc. Most organisations provide funds to help you through the startup period.
  4. Find a suitable venue for your Club meetings – church hall or posh hotel? Serviced by public transport or will members have to drive? Depends on your location and how much you can afford. Room hire charges will be your biggest expense so choose wisely.
  5. Decide on the Club name – take a look round at other Speakers Clubs names before deciding.
    A word of caution – make sure that your Club name is easy to remember and spell. My own club is called Sans Souci Speakers Club. Try spelling that on a radio programme!
    Also bear in mind that your Club name will probably become part of your Website domain name, so try and include a geographic locator i.e. if you meet in Leicester, try and include Leicester in your club name.
  6. Decide frequency of meetings, meeting times and dates – how often should you meet? My own club meets every two weeks but as a new club you may decide to meet say once a month. As membership builds up you can increase the frequency of your meetings.
    What’s the best time to meet? Depends if you think members will come straight from work or go home and eat first.
    Make sure dates and times are clearly shown on your website so that people can plan ahead.
  7. Setup a Club Website – your Website is likely to be your major form of advertising. Set it up early to get that publicity moving. For an idea, take a look at this great looking speakers club website.
  8. Organise other forms of publicity – your Website should be your main form of advertisig, as I always say, “least effort most reward” but think about supplementing it with other forms of publicity.
    Articles in local newspapers, poster in the local library, members doing outside assignments etc.
  9. Prepare your first Club meeting – take a look at item 2 “Get help from other Speakers Clubs in your area” Experienced members from these clubs will help you set up your first meeting and will perform most of the jobs, chairman, evaluators etc.
    Use their expertise until your own members are trained.
  10. Ongoing recruitment – recruitment is an ongoing process. Each season some members will join and some will leave. You should be aiming to have about 20 members.

If you want to read Farnoosh’s complete article take a look at Creating an Advanced Toastmasters Club.
You may also want to read Farnoosh’s other Toastmasters articles.

Let us have your thoughts and recommendations

Are you a member of the Association of Speakers Clubs or Toastmasters?
Are there Clubs out there that I’ve missed?
Has being a member of a Speakers Club helped your Public Speaking and confidence.?
Tell us a bit about your own Speakers Club.
Which clubs would you recommend?
We’d love to hear from you.

Credits:
My thanks and gratitude to stock.xchng for allowing me to use their Helping Hand image.

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Comments

  1. Thanks very much for your generous comments Keith. I don’t think so ref. going any further though! It has been an honour and a fulfilling year as Club President but I will be happy to be a club member without office again; I might actually have some time to write and deliver some speeches and will look forward to your tips to help me!

    Best wishes,
    Carol.
    http://www.sanssoucispeakers.co.uk

  2. i remember when i was still in high school, i always fear public speaking engagments.”:-

  3. Roy Gibson says:

    Keith
    One of the things that I like about Speakers Club is the ability of ordinary people, not professionals, to be able to speak in front of people with a little encouragement and advice and really excel in their own achievements. Something that they may have thought they could never do.

    • Hi Roy
      You’ve hit the nail on the head
      “the ability of ordinary people… to be able to speak in front of people”
      That’s what Speakers Clubs are all about and that’s why I’m so passionate about them.
      BTW – missed you at the Sans Souci AGM.

  4. First, thank you for stopping by my blog. Had you not stopped by I would not have found this article (bookmarked). I have been considering starting a public speaking club for my students, but I did not know how to get started. This information is more helpful than you know. Thank you, especially for the club-starting tips.
    Michael Johnson´s last great post ..EntrustedMy Profile

    • Welcome Michael
      Sounds like a great idea “starting a Public Speaking Club” for your students.
      Glad you found the information useful – good luck and please let me know how things go.
      Appreciate your comment.

  5. hi
    Joining a Speakers Club was the best thing I ever did. It has given me confidence in many areas of my life, not just speaking. Now, as National President of the ASC I feel I have the chance to put something back into the greatest organisation in the world. I also started a speakers club and to see people grow from very timid people into eloquent, confident speakers is a wonderful feeling. I hope lots of people reading this message will be able to share the experience I have had. If there isnt a club near you, just let us know and we will help you to start one.
    Well done with this site, Keith.

    • Hi Gwyneth
      Great to hear from you and fantastic to read such an endorsement for Speakers Clubs.
      I think you’ve said it all and like you I like to think that I’m putting something back into an activity that has changed my life.

      See you soon – Keith

    • hi,
      I’m from Bhutan and I’m interested to start a speakers club since there isnt any here and hopefully expand all over the country. therefore, I would appreciate if you could give me more information and guidance to help me start one.
      Thanks and looking forward to a quick response to sonamchokie@gmail.com

  6. Hi Keith,

    Thanks a lot! You’ve given me yet ANOTHER concrete idea for how to grow as a person, dang it! (LOL)

    No but seriously, that sounds like a really good way to practice.
    Adena Atkins´s last great post ..A Week of Unitasking- Part 1My Profile

    • Hi Adena
      Sorry!
      You could give this ona a miss… but you really would be missing out.

      I started speaking at a local ASC Speakers Club in the UK and have never looked back.
      I’m still a member and I now pass on what I’ve learned to others.

      Thanks for your comment – appreciate you taking the time.

      BTW – what do you think of the anti spam plugin?

  7. Hi Keith–I’ll simply have to give in (she says as she writes “toastmasters” in her little black book)

    I like your anti-spam plugin and should get one myself–the robots don’t even bother spelling real words anymore!
    Adena Atkins´s last great post ..A Week of Unitasking- Part 1My Profile

  8. I very much like the website and such good PR for the ASC

  9. this article was the best on how to increase your confidence in public speaking – i did not know that this type of resource via speakers club actually existed. keep up the great work in producing a quality information resource
    ann watson´s last great post ..Crystal Acoustics THX Select Certified THX-10SUB SubwooferMy Profile

    • Welcome to easyP Ann.
      Yes Speakers Clubs are fantastic.

      If you want more information, please send me an email via my contact page.

      Appreciate your comment.

  10. I joined a Speakers Club back in high school and the members are really helpful in improving my public speaking skills.

  11. Gwyneth Millard says:

    People who know me as a Speaker think I was born that way. You know – confident and self assured- well today I met someone I haven’t seen since long before I joined a Speakers Club. He hardly recognised me! he remembered a shy person who could never utter a word in meetings. If we could bottle our product we could change the world!!

    • Gwyneth
      Over the last twelve months, in your own small way, you have changed the world.

      Someone said that you brought to the AGM an atmosphere of enjoyment and goodwill – that is exactly what you did.
      The ASC is more unified now than when you took office.

      And don’t worry, we won’t forget you!
      You were a great President and still have so much to offer the ASC.

      BTW – Now that you don’t have so much to think about, get cracking on that new website. LOL

      Keith

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