Alex triumphs in topics competition

President Edwin Petrie of Blairgowrie welcomed fourteen members and one guest to last week’s meeting of the Strathmore Speakers Club.

Bill Walker of Blairgowrie chaired the training session, assisted by Ted Williams of Kirriemuir in the role of timekeeper for the evening.

There were only two speeches to allow more time for the topics competition which followed.

First to the lectern was Alex Rae of Kirriemuir giving a mini-lecture entitled ‘Are You a Star?’

Alex’s subject was ‘Sociometry’ which, he explained, was the measurement of attitudes among members of a social group.

By studying the attitudes of social acceptance or rejection as expressed through their individual preferences, it is possible to determine who is the star, or leader, from those content to be just part of the group.

A simple diagram, together with a specimen dialogue between members of a gang, quickly demonstrated the technique.

Edwin Petrie evaluated. In awarding a clear-cut pass for this assignment he said that this had been a fine example of how to give a lecture.

Alex had obviously made good preparation, and he drew in his audience with his voice, his eye contact and his positive manner at the lectern. The simple handout had been easy to follow and had aptly demonstrated the point.

The second speaker was Jim Smith of Kirriemuir with a ‘word pictures’ speech which he called ‘My Poetry’. This was a rehearsal for the Club’s visit to the Perth Speakers Club later in the week, and Jim started by quoting a verse of a poem he had written to the Perth Club on the occasion of their Ruby anniversary in 1995.

His speech included three recently composed poems on subjects he felt strongly about: ‘That’s What You Feel Like Doing’; ‘To Say or Not To Say’; and ‘The Cycle of Life’.

The evaluator was Pamela Howat of Coupar Angus. She congratulated Jim on what she felt had been a ‘Masterpiece’ speech.

There had been minimal introduction and linking, but little was needed as the cleverly crafted poems spoke for themselves. The manner of their delivery was just right with excellent voice modulation, pace, pitch, pauses and humour, which had left everyone wanting more.

The topics contest was chaired by Andrew Buist of Alyth. He explained that all the contestants would be taken out of the room and brought back one by one by the steward, Muriel Smith.

They would then be given the subject and allowed to walk once around the room before going to the lectern and speaking for three minutes.

There would be time penalties for anyone 15 seconds under or over the target time. Their performances would be judged by a panel of two members - Jim Smith and David Affleck

All seven contestants took their turn on the topic of ‘The River Tay’ mostly turning to the theme of the beauty of Scotland’s longest river and its wonderful salmon fishing, though some did veer off in other directions.

Chief judge Jim Smith said that everyone had responded well to the topic and the winner would be chosen from those who had had the presence of mind to turn their comments into a mini-speech.

The winner was Alex Rae, second was Jim Gibb of Blairgowrie, and third was David Howat of Blairgowrie.

Alex will now go forward to represent the Club at the North Tay Area Heats at Arbroath in February.

General evaluator Jim Gibb thought it had been an enjoyable evening with good speeches and evaluations.

He felt the choice of subject for the Topics Competition had been very good as it allowed people to go off on different tacks, and he said the whole evening had been a good stepping stone to further progress.

Anyone who would like more information about learning to speak in public in the friendly atmosphere of a speakers club should contact Jim Smith on 01575 574435 or Jim Gibb on 01250 875262.