You know, there’s one activity that mom does on a regular basis that simply doesn’t make sense to me – going to meetings. I mean, we get into a car and go somewhere interesting, meet up with lots of fascinating people whose shoes and clothes often smell of interesting things like other dogs, cats… and on one remarkable recent occasion, even a Rabbit! Now, all of that makes a certain degree of sense – we dogs are social beings so going somewhere we can connect with others is lots of fun. But then they all go and sit down and it just gets really boring for me – a few people stand up and go to the front of the room and talk for a bit (sometimes even mom does this) and then they sit down while everyone smacks their paws together. And then someone else stands up and walks to the front of the room and the whole thing happens all over again. I promise I really try to sit still and behave like mom wants me to but I get so bored that eventually I start to sniff the floor to see if anyone perhaps dropped something interesting, or I put my head on someone’s lap in case they’re as bored as I am and are also looking for a distraction – I’m sure they appreciate that I’m giving them something useful to do. But then mom gets me to come and lie down and the seemingly endless cycle starts again. So, if any of you can explain this very peculiar human behavior to me, I’d really appreciate it… Wags!
I was asked to serve as master of ceremonies for a recent Professional Speakers Association meeting in Cape Town and really enjoyed the experience!
It got me thinking of what I consider the main tasks of an MC to be. So here they are: introducing the speakers, ensuring the event runs smoothly and managing time, and keeping the audience engaged while not stealing the spotlight from the speakers.
I believe a speaker ought to be introduced the way they want. So, as an MC I prefer to get an introduction directly from the speaker, rather than simply drawing a few key facts from their bio. And why do I feel that way? Well, often the introduction can enhance the impact a speaker has right from their first word – and that saves the speaker having to “set the stage” themselves when they start. So I was really grateful that PSASA Cape Chapter President, Bronwyn Hesketh arranged introductions from the speakers to assist me in my role as MC – thanks, Bronwyn!
I also believe that it’s the responsibility of the MC to ensure the event runs smoothly an on time, as far as possible. At the PSASA event a new initiative was introduced to the attendees and, while I would have loved to have opened the floor for questions, the reality was that we didn’t have time on the agenda. So, hard as it was for me not to get side-tracked, I requested that we investigate other ways for the association members to learn more at a different time. And we ended on time – but only just!
Finally I think there is a fine line that MCs need to tread between entertaining the audience and yet not “stealing the limelight” from the speakers, who are the real stars of the event. I think what I love best about serving as MC is the ability to refer back to things that have happened earlier in the event that are relevant to what the next speaker will say or has just said, especially if they can be used in a humorous or entertaining way. I find it a great way of keeping the audience engaged and breaks the tension of a more serious event. But, as I said, the trick is not to overplay things and detract from the message the speaker is giving – that’s not my job as MC!
I know most experienced MCs will read this and go, But that’s so obvious” and maybe to them it is – to me it’s still new enough that it fascinates me and makes the MC role not just exciting, but also a whole lot of fun.
I’m looking forward to having the chance to MC another event really soon!
I know I’ve previously mentioned that I’m generally open to new experiences. It’s one of the ways I keep challenging my boundaries and finding out what I’m capable of doing.
So, when I had the opportunity to play the role of magician’s assistant at the professional Speakers Association at the recent PSASA National Convention in Cape Town, of course I leapt at the chance!
Andrew “Magic Man Eland served as our MC on one of the days of the convention and he invited me up on stage – he didn’t warn me of what was going to happen nor did he brief me on what magic trick he was going to perform. He did mention that he had never used a blind assistant before nor did he know of any other magician who had done so, so it was a new experience for us both!
And here’s the photographic proof – the photo shows Andrew and myself during the trick… when Andrew is just about to reveal that he’s turned one sponge ball into two… and no, I’m not going to tell you how he did it!
When this is published I’ll be immersed in the professional speaking world at the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa Convention. This year the annual PSASA Convention is in Cape Town so it’s right on my doorstep – at least it is, if one thinks of the whole of Cape Town as one very big door!
Over the past few months I’ve been part of the organising team for the convention, working with conference convenor, Bronwyn Hesketh. I’ve been on a few conference organising teams before but this one has been the most fun – probably the most work but definitely the most fun! It’s been great seeing the whole event take shape before our eyes… not without the odd mishap along the way, but that’s only to be expected.
I’ve also had the opportunity of interacting with the 16 speakers taking part on the programme. So I already know what they’ll be speaking on. I know I’ll gain insights into topics that will make me a better speaker and help me grow my speaking business. It’s going to be a great way for me to brush up on my skills!
I have no doubt that Fiji will be staring out of the glass doors at the panoramic view from the conference centre at the Lagoon Beach Hotel, plotting
Here’s another Fiji video – this time of when she and I went walking in Tokai Forest.
It was a beautifully warm morning. In fact, at over 32 degrees Celsius it was verging on being a little too warm! The sky was clear and there was a gentle breeze keeping it from becoming stifling. It was a beautiful day to walk in the forest.
I did have an ulterior motive for wanting to walk there – I wanted to assess Fiji’s dog and squirrel distraction levels in a safe environment. Occasionally I’ve noticed her being a little too eager to go and play with other dogs and with squirrels… though I’m not sure that chasing squirrels counts as playing – at least, not if you happen to be one of those squirrels!
Naturally, Fiji behaved perfectly when we were in Tokai Forest. Yes, she may have looked at a few dogs and noted when two squirrels sped past her, but at no stage did she veer off course or pull towards them. I was really proud of her as I know it must be hard for a dog to so totally ignore what their instincts are telling them. Well done, Fiji!
Hope you enjoy the short video of Fiji and I walking down the forest path…
Apart from shark diving and parachuting, I’m generally open to new experiences. So, when the Cape Town Chapter of the Professional Speakers Association asked me to participate in a panel discussion on the merits of traditional publishing versus self-publishing, I leapt at the chance. What made it even more exciting was that two of us would be in Cape Town and the third would join us via Skype from Johannesburg.
I admit it was a little disconcerting sitting there with a super-sized version of speaker/author Douglas Kruger dominating the massive screen beside author/trainer Jill Ritchie and myself but it certainly didn’t impede the discussion in any way.
I’ve always believed that my decision to self-publish was the right one for me, but was fascinated to hear what Jill and Douglas had to say about their own experiences in both worlds. I found the open and honest discussion informative and thought-provoking as did the audience, based on the diverse questions they asked. I certainly learned a lot from the input given by Jill and Douglas, and hope that others did too.
Not only did I get a new experience but I also gained valuable information that’ll help me in the future. And once again I was reminded why I gain so much value from being a member of the Professional Speakers Association!
So, while I came away with my belief that self-publishing was the right decision for my current books, perhaps next time I’ll think differently! Who knows?
Here is a photograph of me receiving my certificate of membership as an Associate Member of the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa, with Cape PSASA Chapter President 2015 – 2016, Richard Mulvey
In June 2015 I joined the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa and I can honestly say I think it is the best business decision I have ever made for my speaking business.
I have been a member of Toastmasters International for many years and have learned a great deal about constructing and presenting speeches, and have developed useful leadership skills through the toastmasters structured learning programmes.
However, from the PSASA I am learning how to build my speaking business – learning from those who have travelled this journey before me, and those who are experts in their fields of speaking. As a result, I am gaining insights into the speaking industry and the next steps I need to take to build my business. I am grateful to the many PSASA members who have been willing to share their knowledge and experience with me as part of this journey.
This year (2016-2017) I will be assisting the Cape Chapter of the PSASA as a part of the organising committee, and I look forward to an exciting year ahead with our new Cape chapter President, Jason Sandler and his team.