Beginnings, endings and, again, beginnings…

Last Thursday 7th June was an evening of beginnings, endings and new beginnings… from the “speeches” point of view!

Scott Kavanagh did an “icebreaker” from the Pathways series he’s just started (“Innovative Planning”). With the title “Worry” he talked about the fact he is a “natural born worrier” and about the elements which create worries in his life. He believes they have negative effects, but they can also have some positive ones.

He remembers an episode when he was learning to swim as a kid: they told him to go deeper, and he panicked because he didn’t understand the swimming pool was knee-deep.

Considering how he worries so much, he has been doing the “right” job for 10 years… that is the investor risk, which in short means “to worry on behalf of your client”.

Also, having a family with 3 kids means he will worry for his entire life.

To try to relax, he has recently started again an old hobby of his, that is painting miniatures; he is an avid reader, as well.

Public speaking is not easy, too, of course, but as he mentioned at the beginning, facing this will have a positive effect because he’ll help him to transform a worry into a strength.

Dan Haycraft, on the contrary, with “How you should do it” reached his tenth and final speech from the classic “Competent Communication” manual: he talked about how he was able to reach this result, that is finding, carefully choosing and matching the right heroes.

The first example he gives is “Chuck” Yeager, the pilot who beat for the first time the speed of sound. Everybody thought he wouldn’t have been able to make it, and two days before the event, he even broke two ribs. He didn’t reveal it to anyone, he was helped in closing the hatch of the plane, he was able to overcome any difficulties and break that record. After that moment, he could beat other records.

Like him, Dan took that attitude whenever he had to overcome some difficulties.

Another hero who inspired him was General Robert Lee. He was a soldier, and when the war broke, he had to face a hard choice: to stay faithful to the United States or to the state of Virginia? He chose Virginia. Then, he was defeated, he accepted it and after the war, he was very supportive to the reconciliation between North and South.

This attitude, too, helped him a lot, especially after the devastations caused by hurricane Katrina: he decided to be strong both physically and socially.

He states he didn’t prepare that speech to inspire anyone, but simply to suggest everybody should choose carefully their personal heroes. In doing so, they may lose in some situations, but in other situations they will certainly win more times than they think.

Finally, our most experienced John Wood introduced us with “It’s only Words” to the “Entertaining Speech”, from “The Entertaining Speaker” series of the Pathways program.

Telling a small, personal anecdote John starts to give examples of different types of “peculiar” words… words he noted in his “vocabulary notebook”, a habit he took when he was a boy train-spotter.

One of his current highlights is when the Oxford Dictionary lists the new neologisms, both the portmanteau words and the terms whose meanings have been “rebooted”. Even the “Washington Post” is taking some interest in this last aspect: in fact, they run an annual competition where the readers are asked to provide an alternative meaning to existing words.

Finally, a type of words which amuses him a lot are the definitions describing social groups, like the recent “gammon”, but what strikes him the most is realizing that the number of new neologisms appearing every year is almost as much the same amount of the vocabulary spoken by an average person.

In short, a great evening which makes us look forward to what we may be able to hear at our next meeting, on Thursday 21st June.


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