The EBS 60 Second Interview – Mark Pratt
Mark is a long standing member of EBS, having been both VP Membership and Treasurer. He is Chief Business Consultant for a Danish asset management software company and he previously worked as an equity Fund Manager for a couple of firms. Mark struggles to justify his behaviour whilst simultaneously telling his kids off for doing exactly the same thing, he is constantly trying to conquer his stammer and dabbles, albeit gloriously unsuccessfully, in stand-up comedy.
What brought you to EBS?
A major part of the stammering recovery course I’m involved in is active non-avoidance and pushing out speaking situation comfort zones and Toastmasters seemed to fit the bill for moving to the next level. I visited a number of clubs prior to choosing EBS, where guests were not treated anywhere near as warmly as here – by not being introduced or the introduction coming right at the end of the meeting which you had now felt detached from. EBS certainly gives the most wonderful first impression to guests and potential members, making you feel so welcome!
Was it everything you expected?
Not really, but in a good way. I still had this perception it was all about delivering prepared speeches but as we all know (now) there are so many other speaking roles which you have free range to develop as your own, so I was very pleasantly surprised. I tend to concentrate on the evaluation aspect of Toastmasters, as speaking with less preparation is more relevant to the control of my stammer and development of my speech. I had a false start at Toastmasters about 5 years previous to joining EBS, when I was turned off whilst attending a meeting in which I figured out, with the amount of attendees, it would take me 3 months before I was able to deliver a speech (and I was never given the chance to introduce myself, either!).
How long have you been a Member?
Almost 6 years
Were your expectations fulfilled?
Well, considering my expectations were relatively limited, they were greatly exceeded.
What surprised you most about EBS?
How lovely the members and guests are and how easy it is to get on with them, despite them being such multifarious personalities from really diverse backgrounds, eras (!) and vocations. It’s like going for an early Thursday morning drink in the Star Wars cantina, albeit with better looking characters and less light sabre action!
What has been your greatest learning as a Toastmaster?
That public speaking can actually be enjoyable and that it is okay to try something different and make mistakes, as long as you learn from them (and boy, do I make mistakes!).
What is special about EBS?
The diverse range of members of course but also the openness to innovation, the very active support from other members and above all, the FUN at each meeting!
What do you like best about coming to our Club?
People, place, performances! Not the sort of entertainment you’d expect at 7.10 in the morning when compared to being squashed into a hot, sweaty tube. However, what I like the least is rarely being able to follow it up with a long breakfast with the other members and guests!
What do your friends and family say about you since you joined?
They certainly notice an extra confidence and a willingness to take on roles and tasks which I would have certainly shied away from previously.
How has becoming a member of EBS affected you/ your life?
It has made me much less scared of public speaking so much so that I’ve been able to dabble in stand-up comedy over the past 2 years.
What was your biggest fear before you came?
That I would feel very intimidated by people who took public speaking so seriously that they’d actually joined a club to do it.
Is that still your biggest fear?
Not really, now I’m just always overwhelmed by how practice, taking a few risks by pushing your boundaries and just taking part can transform even the most nervous and unpolished speaker.
How does public speaking impact your life?
As well as the stand-up comedy I’ve already mentioned, being a consultant means trying to exhibit a certain level of confidence and knowledge in what clients are paying you for, which as most consultants in my line of business know is not easy. EBS has really helped me to deal with these situations in a much more professional manner.
Is there anything else you would rather be doing on a Thursday morning?
Yes but my partner is normally sleeping at 5.15 so EBS is both my metaphorical cold shower and hot breakfast!