Stillwater Speakers Club Holds Meeting

Stillwater Speakers Club Holds Meeting
Photo by Kane Reinholdtsen / Unsplash

The Stillwater Speakers Club, a public speaking club, held its weekly meeting last Tuesday in 109H Edmon Low Library at 6:00 PM. President Marley Beem opened the meeting by introducing a tri-fold handout that addresses the question "Why Public Speaking?". It then answers the question: "Overcoming the fear of public speaking or honing one's speaking skills are the reasons why most people think about joining a public speaking club. But there are hidden benefits of equal or greater value." Thoughtfulness, social connections, and a widening of horizons are bonuses for participating.

Mr. Beem then played a sample of an outstanding Toastmasters-style speech to showcase the principles of good public speaking in action. It was the 2014 World champion of public speaking with a particularly challenging name to pronounce: Dananjaya Hettiarachchi. The speech was entitled "I see something." 

After the clip ended, members Sidd Suresh, Derrick Whitley, and John Novak analyzed what made Mr. H's speech so great. Derick commented that he did not use fancy vocabulary or try to impress his audience. Instead, he told authentic stories in ordinary language. Others appreciated the use of repetition, pacing, use of visual aids, confident and deliberate pauses, and humor. "He builds tension and relieves it with humor over and over. A good speech should contain surprises," said Marley. "If it's going to be a winning speech, it's gotta make us laugh and cry."

Sidd Suresh then took over as Impromptu Topics Master, leading an engaging Jeopardy!-style game where club members could select a number and get a topic. They were then expected to give an impromptu speech for about one and a half minutes, practicing the principles of good speech etiquette.

Marley Beem chose #8 and was given the prompt: "If you could talk to animals, what animal would you talk to, and what would you ask them?" After a brief moment to gather his thoughts, Marley recounted that during his time serving in the Peace Corps, a bird in the forest near the village where he was stationed had an unusual call. It seemed to be calling "BRAIN FEVER! BRAIN FEVER!" If he had the ability to talk to animals, he'd question that bird to find out what that call meant.

Derick Whitley got #13, "What's the most beautiful place you've ever seen?". "I've seen many beautiful places in my life," said Derick. He grew up in Oklahoma, Seattle, and Missouri, and in each place he thought it was the most beautiful he had ever seen. Then he went to the Hawaiian island of Kauai with his wife while his parents tended their two children. "I have so many beautiful memories tied to that place," Derick said. Kauai takes the cake in the beauty contest.

John Novak drew #20, "What was your favorite thing to do as a child that you would love to still be able to do as an adult?" He recalled a memory when he was around 8-10 years old. He was running down the street and suddenly got a second wind, a burst of acceleration. He'd like to go back to that and shed his achy joints.

The final impromptu speech was from the oldest member of the club, Deke Johnson, who drew #18: "If you could be any animal for a day, which would it be and why?" Deke gradually stood up, resting his knuckles on the table for stability. "I would be a grizzly bear," he proclaimed. In his years as an outdoorsman, he's seen the creative abilities of animals. Once, he saw a grizzly bear awake from hibernation, climb to the top of a snow bank and scratch his claws on a tree. The markings tell other bears they're in another bear's territory, and the higher the markings, the greater the bear's dominance. 

"When he next came out of the den, he discovered that the snow had melted and as he looked up and saw the markings far above him, he smiled. The other grizzlies in the area saw the markings high in the tree and were scared, so they departed. He was now the dominant bear!" Deke concluded his impromptu speech: "I would be a grizzly bear because I'd have stature. People would look up at me, hopefully without a rifle." 

Stillwater Speakers was formed in August 2023 as a reformation of Toastmasters that senior members believed best served the needs of the club's members. The next meeting will be May 28 at 6 PM at 109H Edmon Low Library. Visitors are always welcome.

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