It’s inevitable losing weight, quitting smoking or saving money will be at the top of New Year’s resolution lists up and down the country, but a group in Eastbourne is urging people to try something ‘fun, different and truly life-changing’ this time round.
Eastbourne Speakers Club is inviting people to join the non-profit group and challenge themselves to overcome the fear of public speaking in 2014. While it may not be the most acknowledged phobia, speaking in front of a crowd is something most people have to encounter at some point in their personal or professional lives and that feeling of sweaty palms, beating heart and dry mouth is one experienced by many.
Vice-president of Eastbourne Speakers Club Sue Pellow said, “I think many people are generally held back by a fear of public speaking and we offer them the chance to conquer this, while having a lot of fun at the same time.
“There’s a fantastic environment at the club, everyone is very supportive of one another and we make sure all feedback is positive and encouraging.
“Joining the club certainly has changed my life and it’s incredible to see the change it makes in other people, watching them develop and become proud of themselves.”
The club is part of a multinational organisation called Toastmasters International, which has more than 292,000 memberships in more than 14,350 clubs in 122 countries across the world.
President of Eastbourne Speakers Club, Claire Carpenter, said, “Anyone can join, so long as they’re over the age of 18. At the moment, we have 18 members and that includes people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.
“There is such a wide range of people, from professionals to students, and they all join for different reasons. We had one man join to help prepare him deliver a speech at his daughter’s wedding, others join if they know they’ve got a big work presentation coming up.
“The skills you learn at the club help you in other aspects of life as well. For example, it increases your confidence when speaking on the phone and in job interviews.
“We try and help people use nerves as an advantage. It’s amazing to see people develop, blossom and find their voice.”
The group, which was set up in 2005, meets on the first and third Wednesday of every month at 7.30pm in Chin Chin Wine Bar on Grove Road.
Claire added, “A typical meeting is generally split into two parts. In the first part, three or four people will stand up and deliver a prepared speech, which can be on whatever they want, and it’s then evaluated by another member of the group, usually a more experienced member. We like to make sure the feedback is positive, so we say three things they did well and one recommendation for improvement.
“In the second part, we do table topics, which is where someone is given a topic and delivers an impromptu, off-the-cuff speech on that topic.
“Everybody has a role to play in the group, from counting the ‘umm’s and ‘ahh’s in someone’s speech to timing the speeches, and these rotate every meeting.
“Nobody has to do anything they don’t want to do and people can attend two, three, four meetings for free to see what it’s like and decide if it’s their cup of tea before they commit.”
The club follows an educational programme that allows members to progress up the levels, from a ‘competent communicator’ to an ‘advanced leader’.
Membership costs just £90 for the year, which is paid in two instalments – one every six months.
For more information, visit www.eastbournespeakers.org.uk, email Sue Pellow on firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 07803234894.