We use a programme of ten assignments to ensure that all members have the opportunity
to develop to the point where they can deliver a masterpiece speech with confidence.
The assignments are described below (see here). This programme is totally flexible
so that members can develop at their own pace. Each of your speeches is evaluated
by fellow members, to provide you with constructive guidance for how to develop,
in an atmosphere which is friendly and fun. When you join you will receive a comprehensive
printed Speakers Guide to help you on your way.
Membership costs £28 per year and the Guide £11. There is a charge of £2 at each
meeting to cover the costs of hiring the room.
At each meeting members have the opportunity to take on different roles - chairman,
speakers, evaluators, time keeper and topics chairman. Taking on the roles helps
to develop your skills as a speaker. In time you will find that this arrangement
builds your confidence until you feel relaxed and confident when you take to the
Each meeting listens to three speeches which have been put together by the members
in their own time. These are evaluated and suggestions given for further improvement.
After a coffee break we come to the impromptu speaking session, where the topics
chairman hands out subjects for speakers to talk on for 2 minutes. These topics
speeches are then assessed. Note -this is all voluntary!!! We don’t force anybody
in to making speeches, you will always work at your own pace. But be warned -it
Finally the general evaluator for the evening assesses the evaluators and the chairman
and topics chairman.
The Ten Assignments
Assignment 1 - Making a start
Your first speech allows you the opportunity to tell fellow members a little about
yourself and therefore helps you to feel comfortable making your speaking debut.
Assignment 2 - Mean what you say
Having completed your first speech, this assignment is designed to develop your self
confidence by speaking on a subject which you know well, and believe in. You will
have the opportunity to demonstrate sincerity, conviction and persuasiveness.
Assignment 3 - Speech Construction
The purpose of this assignment is to master the art of arranging what you want to
say in a logical and consistent manner so that your audience can easily follow your
train of thought and argument.
Assignment 4 - Use of Gestures
When you stand up to deliver a speech or presentation, the way you look and sound
is just as important as what you say. Your aim in this exercise should be to develop
gestures which help to illustrate and add meaning or emphasis to your speech. Used
properly, your hands, your face and indeed your whole body can add greatly to your
effectiveness as a speaker.
Assignment 5 - Use Your Voice
This exercise is designed to help you develop good voice modulation. The voice is
the most powerful weapon in the Speaker’s armoury, but it is only effective it if
is used appropriately to amplify the power, drama and delivery of the speech itself.
Assignment 6 - Vocabulary and Word Pictures
This assignment gives an opportunity to concentrate on emphasising your message by
careful choice of vocabulary and word pictures; using fresh, appropriate words and
phrases to replace more mundane ones. Word pictures add depth and substance to the
description, whilst arresting the attention of the listener by being both memorable
and appropriate. They will help your audience to visualise the images you wish to
Assignment 7 - The Use of Notes
Writing suitable notes is a skill in itself, but delivering a speech from them without
losing eye contact or fluency, whilst maintaining accuracy and spontaneity (real
or apparent) is the mark of a quality speaker.
Most of us find that even with the best preparation, our memories can still fail
us, and a speech needs to be supported by appropriate notes to act as a prompt when
required. We should not be ashamed of using notes, as they are a necessary aid,
particularly in longer addresses, or where specific wording needs to be accurately
Assignment 8 - The Use of Humour
This assignment is intended to help you explore different types of humour, and to
allow you to develop a style that fits your own character, whilst taking account
of the needs of the audience.
A degree of humour is appropriate to almost every speech. For the after-dinner assignment
the audience expects to hear a funny speech, but on other occasions the humour may
be more subtle or gentle. Humour is useful in contrasting a serious point, thus
emphasising the underlying serious message.
Assignment 9 - Audience Rapport
Building rapport with an audience is about speaking in such a way as to generate
a sympathy in the audience, for ideas being put across by the speaker. This assignment
focuses on building these vital skills of the speaker.
Assignment 10 - The Masterpiece
This assignment complete your basic training as a public speaker and will confirm
your ability to deliver a polished speech demonstrating all the skills that you have
developed in the previous nine assignments.
Full details of all the assignments and comprehensive details of how to prepare for
each assignment and also for more advanced assignments are given in your Speakers
Guide - presented to you on joining Stratford Speakers Club.
“A speech is poetry: cadence, rhythm, imagery! A speech reminds us that words, like
children, have the power to make dance the dullest beanbag of a heart”. ~Peggy Noonan
“The most precious things in speech are the pauses.”
Sir Ralph Richardson
“It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”
“Be sincere; be brief; be seated.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt,
“Oratory is the power to talk people out of their sober and natural opinions.”