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Notes for speakers

This isn't going to make everyone happy, but we have all had those evenings. The one when the guest speaker may have had brilliant material but you would never know it after they have droned on and on. Or there is the speaker who assumes you are all as absorbed in his or her special interest and so forgets to point out the basics, or the one who spends all their time facing the boards so you can't hear what they are saying.

Philately is lucky in that so many speakers are ready and willing to give up their time to give a display free of charge. However that is not a reason to bore the life out of those who have turned up to listen. Just a little extra thought would make the presentation so much better for everyone. Here are some things which can turn a deathly dull evening into a lively one:

  1. Don’t be worried – we are on your side, we want you to succeed.

  2. When talking, face the audience, not your sheets, we can't hear you otherwise. Try not to stand in front of the sheet you are talking about; a stick or laser pointer can be useful.

  3. Speak clearly (obviously) and slowly. Repeat key points. 

  4. Speak naturally as if talking to a friend, not addressing a local council meeting in the 1950s. Be human, a flawless, robotic recital puts people to sleep, the more naturalistic a speaker seems the more tuned-in the audience will be. Wit works.

  5. If you don't capture the audience's attention immediately, it's unlikely they'll listen to the rest of what you have to say.

  6. Assume that your audience knows nothing and you will not go far wrong. They probably know the dates for the Second World War (but not necessarily who was on which side) and that the 1d Black came out in 1840 but that is about it. Never be afraid to state the obvious.

  7. Right at the start explain the scope of what you are showing and how it is divided up. Know your material - if you don't know what something is we certainly won't so it is a waste of time bringing it along.

  8. Have a clear story to tell and try not to go off on too many tangents, we get confused easily.

  9. Give dates; it is amazing how many speakers fail to do so.

  10. It is often a good idea of have some basic notes on you which act as reminders.

  11. Maintain eye contact. Look at individuals, not an anonymous blur. Establish credibility and rapport with your eyes and move your head around the audience. If you don’t make contact with them, they will not make contact with you.

  12. Stand tall and be confident. Don’t be afraid to use your hands - gestures reflect clarity of thought.

  13. You don’t have to speak about every sheet you have. An average meeting lasts for, say two hours. The members will want to have a good look at the material you have brought along and there also needs to be a bit of time for the ‘parish notices’. If you have two halves that means you should not speak for more than half an hour each half. Many say about 20 minutes is best when it comes to audience concentration levels.

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