Feature: The art of having something interesting to say

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WHERE in Worthing would you find topics such as ‘justice for cats’, Africa’s orange production and wriggling out of embarrassing situations?

If such an eclectic, and, frankly, unlikely mix did exist, I certainly wasn’t expecting it when I took my seat at Worthing Speaker’s Club’s latest meeting.

The club, which meets at the Burlington Hotel every month, primarily helps people improve their public speaking, but does it in a way that doesn’t suck all the fun out.

“It helps the butterflies fly in formation,” explains member Mandy Wallace.

“I came to improve my presentation skills, but soon realised it had so much more to offer than that.”

For those who want to improve their speaking, the club – since April fully chartered as an “official toastmaster” club – puts its members through an informal 10-speech challenge.

Each meeting, the speaker picks a topic of their choice, and they have a specific target to achieve, whether it be a time target, or specific area of focus.

Their every move is observed by a friendly evaluator, who is tasked with helping them 
improve.

And our second speaker, Bill Harpley, from Shoreham, almost has me in tears of laughter.

“Justice for cats,” he shouts, with possibly the most serious face ever posed. “I have seen with my own eyes that the community of cats nationwide are suffering in the recession,” he adds.

Bill has reached the magic tenth speech, the crème de la crème of public speaking. It is the final one of the toastmaster’s training, effectively, and he pulled it off in style.

He said: “The goal of speech ten is to inspire people, but the problem is almost any topic you pick is going to bore some people.

“So the option there is to create a fantasy, like I did.”

For the full story, see the Worthing and Shoreham Heralds, out Thursday, August 22.