That is me in the bear suit, the way I used to be. I originally joined Rostrum for work reasons.
Name: Sean Collins
State and Club Number: Tas, Club 3
Member since: 2002
Why I joined and why I stay.
There were Rostrum members in my workplace whom I admired. They seemed to have the ability to quickly and concisely present an argument both to their peers and to executive management, a group which is generally time-poor in most organisations and with low tolerance for time wasting. When they chaired meetings, the meetings seemed to flow well, more often than not decisions were reached and documented, time wasting was kept to a minimum and yet everybody had been given an opportunity to engage. I decided I wanted to have those skills.
The suit is gone now and among other things I’m a director on several boards. My skills have been honed by marvelous Critics, honest enough not to give me an unwanted whitewash and skilled enough in suggesting positive practical improvements in such supportive fashions. If you have ever been in a situation of chairing a public AGM where there are some disaffected stakeholders willing you to perform poorly, and ready to clobber you on the first sign of weakness or unfamiliarity with meeting procedure, then you will appreciate your Rostrum training. I have been and I do.
So after 14 years, why do I stay? One reason is that I think this public speaking and chairing game isn’t like riding a bike, once learned, never forgotten. Yes, you’ll remember a lot of it, but unless you’re doing it regularly, the little bad habits you had pre-Rostrum will start to return. For many of us, Rostrum provides this opportunity of regular practice with the additional benefit of feedback on that practice. So for the times you do need to exercise these skills, you’re not rusty – you feel good, having prepared.
But a second and very important reason is a people one. Lots of things happen at a Rostrum meeting to make me want to continue coming. This might be the verbal jousting of the business session – both enjoying others and seeing how far I can stretch credulity with my argument before being shut down (under the rules of course!). Or the sheer interest of listening to the speeches of others – how refreshing to come to a meeting not really knowing what my fellow members are going to come up with. There is such fun to be had, such interesting things to hear (whether researched or the experiences of others), new words to learn (anybody for ‘Chiasmus” as per the example “Time’s fun when you’re having flies”?), avenues of thought to explore not previously considered, the pleasures of seeing others improve and develop….. I think I’d be really challenged to recall a meeting where there hasn’t been laughter. And if despite your wonderful manner and method, you do lose an argument, isn’t it great to know you’ll have learned to lose it with style, as in the words of William Batty. “Style is when they are running you out of town and you make it look like you’re leading the parade”!.