Public speaking club - continued

After the third rendition of the weekly public speaking club, I believe to have a fairly working structure. The first unofficial 30 minute warm-up facilitates an open discussion of our backgrounds, public speaking stories, club purpose and the such. The bulk of the remaining hour and a half consists of first, prepared presentations, for anyone having actually prepared one, followed by either a structured or open evaluations for anyone interested. Anyone willing is then free to improvise a presentation on any topic. Lastly, with whatever time remains, in absence of other ideas, we take turns responding to random questions in an improvised form. I have an extensive list of such questions to query.

My goal is to always have a presentation prepared, which, I realize could prove challenging on a weekly basis in contrast to the Toastmasters club, where I compose one to a maximum of two presentations per month. Yet so far I’ve somehow managed.

While I designated the space to facilitate either Portuguese or English-speaking presentations (in accordance to everyone’s personal goals), the club organization and discussions have so far taken place entirely in Portuguese, until the day comes that some non-Portuguese speaker appears. I actually have an easier time presenting in Portuguese than in English, and not due to technical superiority. On the contrary, English prevails in that aspect. Rather, for one, I find a more basic vocabulary beneficial in grounding my train of thought and preparing a simpler structure. With English, I simply tend to overindulge in complex expression and, as a result, stumble with form over delivery. Second, and simpler yet, I enjoy expressing myself in Brazilian Portuguese by (at least) several factors more than in English. Compared to English, or Spanish even, I assimilated Portuguese to a far greater extent, all question of technicality aside.

I prepared a presentation from scratch over the course of 2.5 hours before the meeting (I’m developing a habit of timing such things), composition and rehearsal combined. Somehow, it worked, without lapses or too noticeable flaws in delivery. My recurring critique, as always, concerns the lack of vocal variety and possibly too conservative body language, although the latter seemed less of an issue given the subject matter. I presented a book review of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations, dedicating half the presentation to the author’s background and the nature of the text, and another half to a selected handful of paraphrased fragments of greater impact.

One participant improvised a presentation around another book review. The ability to structure such a presentation on the spot actually left me fairly impressed and wondering: does having full domain of (most importantly) an assimilated language play a crucial role in structuring such a delivery? Clearly it does. Yet, I’ll make no attempt to underestimate the raw power of effort, experience, and practice. It ultimately leads to a question of those components.

Another participant delivered a rendition of the Hero’s Journey (Jornada do Her√≥i) in the context of the film Iron Man. I vaguely recalled hearing of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, a book that heavily makes use of the basic template for a hero’s journey. My favorite uses of the hero’s tale, if I had to choose, would naturally involve the old Clint Eastwood westerns, and specifically those directed by Sergio Leone. Many a story, if not entirely, largely fits the structure of the template. It then becomes a matter of presenting the specific hero’s tale step by step, in a manner fitting to the model. Ultimately, it lends another presentation practice opportunity, the main purpose of the club.