EBS and LSE: Speaking economically

EBS and LSE: Speaking economically

Is public speaking an art or a science?  Early Bird Speakers has been working with students at the London School of Economics to develop their public speaking skills in accordance with our “learning by doing” mantra.

We’ve run two events with the bright young sparks at LSE:

  1. a Stage interview skills workshop on 12 November 2013, and
  2. a Persuasive speaking workshop on 4 March 2014.

This is proper grassroots stuff, taking the invaluable skills we learn at Toastmasters to the masses.  Who knows, we might even be able to one day credit ourselves with helping a future Nobel Prize winner to be able to present their intellectual offerings in a compelling and articulate way?!  Or the slightly less lofty but equally important outcome of playing a part in helping one person, somewhere, to feel slightly less terrified by the idea of speaking in front of a room full of people.

Workshop 1: Stage interview skills

What was this workshop about?

We helped to prep a group of LSE and UCL students for the LSESU-UCL Economics Conference run by and for students at both of the universities.  They were expecting about 200 students to attend and there would be student volunteers to chair sessions and manage the discussion between various speakers and the audience.  Speakers taking the stage would include leading economists, such as Vicky Pryce, Richard Layard, Claudia Goldin and Martin Wolf.

Given what they were gearing up for, the workshop focused on stage interview skills.

What was the format?

This workshop followed a similar format to the second one (see below).

What were the highlights?

The one stand-out thing we were all impressed by was how actively the students listened.  Even within the very short time we spent with them, there was a noticeable improvement in the speaking skills of students who had taken on board the feedback they’d been given.  This was also living proof of the power of constructive feedback, which is one of the central tenets of the Toastmasters way.

We were very pleased indeed to hear that the conference was a resounding success and there were some murmurings amongst participants about wanting to set up their own Toastmasters club…


Workshop 2: Persuasive speaking

What was this workshop about?

Because our first workshop was so well-received, LSE invited us back again.

This was driven out of the LSE AIESEC committee’s belief that public speaking is an essential soft skill for their team.  (AIESIC is a youth-led organisation, which runs student exchange programmes.)

The AIESEC committee is comprised of the Incoming Exchange (ICX), Outgoing Exchange (OGX) and External Relations (ER) divisions. ICX members are tasked with convincing London-based companies to take in an intern from abroad; OGX members recruit London students for AIESEC overseas exchange programmes; ER organises two major annual events: a case study competition and a culture extravaganza, plus sources sponsorships and maintains corporate/student relations for AIESEC.

The AIESEC committee felt that public speaking is particularly relevant for their members when:

  1. chairing weekly meeting for committee members
  2. organising induction events for prospective exchange students
  3. organising presentation sessions to promote exchange programmes to students, and
  4. delivering speeches/ MC’ing at the two ER events.

Our brief from LSE was that they wanted a training session focusing on:

  • chairing an event/meeting
  • presenting a product/programme effectively, and
  • delivering a successful speech (eg, to run for AIESEC’s Executive Committee position)
  • training members to answer unexpected questions spontaneously, as their members constantly need to be equipped to deal with student/corporate enquiries.

The event was timed to occur before AIESEC’s Election Day so the team members who were standing for election could also be prepared to deliver campaign speeches that were Obama-esque feats of oration.

What was the format?

(In the words of Run DMC) it went a little something like this…

Our Prezzie, Neil C, was Toastmaster for the evening.
Jennifer H ran through guest introductions and gave a quick overview on time signals.
Michelle C (TTM) and Richard S (TTE) tag-teamed with table topics. Topics were deliberately chosen with a persuasive element to them.After introduction from Michelle and Richard, Jennifer went first to show the kids how it’s done. Richard then evaluated.Michelle gave the next topic to a student. Richard then evaluated…. and so on and so forth until all the students got to have a go.
Next up was a short workshop on the art of persuasive speaking from the man who could purvey frozen water to the Inuits, Dele O.This was followed by a Q&A session.
Richard then set students a task of getting into pairs and learning enough about their partner to be able to give present a ‘Chairman’s Introduction’ about them to the group.  Richard then led this session and crowdsourced the evaluations from the audience.
Neil wrapped it all up with an EBS ribbon, with a quick feedback session and an invitation to all participants to visit our great club.

What were the highlights?

What struck us about this event in particular was how readily the participants would take lateral leaps with their Table Topics.  Don’t you just love being taken on a spontaneous tangential journey?!  It made for a huge amount of fun and a very energetic session

Here are a few action shots.

lse 1 lse 2 lse 3 lse 4

Finally, a big thanks to our members who gave up their time to help with these workshops – it really is appreciated.  This is great PR for our club and it’s events like these that ensure our membership remains fresher than a Fresher’s laundry (after a visit to Mum’s house…)


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