The EBS 60 Second Interview – Neil Coleman
Neil is a former President and VP-E of Early Bird Speakers. He works in the Visual Effects industry specialising in automotive projects and originally hails from leafy Malvern, Worcestershire. A creative soul at heart who, whilst not designing or constructing, spends time being absorbed in whatever obscure new aspect of the world fascinates him at that moment.
What brought you to EBS?
A colleague told me that I’d find the venue interesting and It’s true. I did. But that’s not what kept me coming.
Was it everything you expected?
Well yes; the art deco architecture was immensely impressive but I quickly stopped gawping at the Masonic finery when the meeting kicked off and I found myself entranced by speeches that transported me to different places and mindsets.
How long have you been a Member?
Three years. It feels much longer than that however. It can, if you let it, be incredibly immersive particularly if get involved with club leadership and the wider Toastmaster community.
What surprised you most about EBS?
That public speaking is the great leveller. Here I was in a room of people from all manner of backgrounds, professions, walks of life but all with the same universal human need to better express their thoughts and all starting out with the same nerves.
What has been your greatest learning as a Toastmaster?
That what you don’t say can be just as important as what you do say.
What is special about EBS?
I’ve visited a lot of clubs now and each has its own nuances, but I haven’t come across one anything quite like Early Birds – its emphasis on innovation, quality and just plain enjoyableness.
What do you like best about coming to our Club?
Gosh, which to choose: the friendly faces, the fascinating speeches, the breakfast gathering and it’s all done before work.
What do your friends and family say about you since you joined?
They noticed quite a change apparently, a new engagement with everything and quiet assertiveness.
How has becoming a member of EBS affected you/ your life?
It fired up my imagination again. With a weekly dose of people sharing their stories and views, I began to approach the world in a different way. I re-engaged with the world again and met some people whose approach to life and living have changed my own and made me the happier for it.
What was your biggest fear before you came?
Probably social judgment. I lensed far too much of my speech (for “speech”, read “life”) through what other people would think. Spending time amongst such positive, friendly, thoughtful people soon broke me of that.
Is that still your biggest fear?
No. Now it’s the zombie apocalypse, followed by killer bees and the continued popularity of TV talent shows.
How does public speaking impact your life?
Ironically, I’m probably one of the members that uses public speaking in my professional life the least, seeing as I’m usually studio based; only occasionally being unleashed upon client meetings and boardrooms. When I do, it’s with more competence and command than before, but my bigger take away is more general: it’s been finding my voice.
Is there anything else you would rather be doing on a Thursday morning?
Well, yes, but in the absence of Natalie Portman, a bungee rope and a large jar of marmalade (organic of course), Early Birds comes in a pretty respectable second place.