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What Did The PSA Ever Do For Us?

By Roger Fairhead, RP at Staffordshire PSA

Some years ago I decided I wanted to get fit and lose some weight, and so I started cycling. Initially it was just an occasional trip out with some friends on our Mountain Bikes, and as my interest and fitness improved I started to enter some local races too.

Soon I decided I wanted to become a better cyclist so I bought some cycling magazines, and I found that I was reading all sorts of different stories explaining how different top cyclists had managed to improve their performance. One recommended a high protein diet, another a high carb diet; one recommended short high intensity training sessions while another emphasised the need to “get the miles in”.

I was confused, until the realisation dawned on me: amidst all the different articles explaining how to succeed and get to the top in their sport, actually the most important thing was first to select the right parents. With the right DNA, many of these top athletes could actually have got to the top level even when including some less than effective practices in their training programs.

That’s when I decided I needed to join a cycling club, so that I could meet up with and have a conversation with other cyclists and find out what actually works for them. That’s when my standard of cycling began to improve significantly.

So, when I was considering taking my speaking career up a notch, I asked a good friend who is also a great speaker – Tony Burgess – and he recommended that I consider joining the Professional Speaking Association (PSA).

My local group is in Staffordshire so I went along and found a really warm, friendly welcome. Although I had picked up some speaking tips along the way in my career in sales and delivering training courses, I started to discover that I had only just scratched the surface of all there is to know about speaking professionally.

In those first few months I developed what have become some great, lasting friendships with other speakers in our group, and I also started to visit other groups nearby and found an equally warm and friendly welcome.

I discovered that our group had been founded fairly recently by another speaker who has become a good friend, David Hyner, and he said to me:

“PSA Staffs was my baby… and it is fast growing up. When I founded the group, it was with the specific intent of it being a small, friendly and focused bunch of speakers, all of whom wanted to drive their speaking business forward.

I am so proud of what our current and past presidents and members have achieved, and I am so lucky to have learnt in these rooms all I needed to know to grow and run my speaking business. #mytribe”

When I joined initially we met in Stafford near the railway station, so that gave great access for visiting speakers. However, there were no refreshment facilities available other than tea, coffee and biscuits, so with a 6pm start that usually meant eating out or taking something along with me to eat before the meeting.

Then these offices closed and we had to move, and around the same time I took over as Regional President. That’s when we found another venue that suits our needs really well. The Potters Club is just over the road from Stoke Station (on the mainline from London to Manchester); it has private parking and some really delightful meeting rooms. It also has a fabulous bar and restaurant and we are able to offer our members a lovely buffet of sandwiches and chips before we start. Since we moved to this new venue the number of people attending has gone from single figures to 20+ attending each meeting. 

Andrew Deighton, our Vice President, recently said this of our group:

“Even though I live in Derby, PSA Staffordshire feels like ‘home’. When I joined the PSA it was the closest group to me and I still travel to every meeting. It’s a small but perfectly formed friendly and supportive group. We’re continuing to grow our numbers of regular attendees and visitors. We meet in a great venue with on-site parking and two minutes from Stoke station. The chips are worth the entry fee on their own. I hope to see you there in the near future.”

Of course the current pandemic has caused us all to move to a digital first environment, and I think that we were probably the first region to do that. Since then we have been able to explore the fascinating online world of speaking on a digital platform. This has given us all an opportunity to get more acquainted with this area that has been around for a good number of years. 

As it happens I had a head start since I have been working with clients in the US, Europe and Australia for the better part of 10 years, both speaking and leading training, so I was delighted to be able to share some of my experiences as we all got started in this world. It’s been great to see so many colleagues engaging in this digital medium now; necessity is the mother of invention, and this pandemic has offered us a great opportunity to invent new ways to engage with a wider audience.

When I decided I wanted to improve my cycling and take it to the next level I joined a cycling club, and when I decided I wanted to improve my speaking and take that to the next level I joined a speaking club. I owe so much to the many speakers I have listened to and learned from, and I have got to know many of them now as really close friends.Once we have opened our doors for physical events in Staffordshire we would love to have you come along and join us, and you too can experience our sumptuous surroundings and legendary chips. In the mean time you would be very welcome to join us online, and we would love to extend a very warm PSA Staffordshire welcome to you soon. Find us online here.

Travel Tips – News from Around the PSA Regions

An Invitation from Ireland, by Barbara Moynihan

I am going to guess that many of you might be a bit like me – in that, over the past few months you have had to swiftly up-skill in the online delivery end of things.

It might sound strange, but I have really enjoyed getting way more familiar with Zoom. In particular I am loving all the cool tools that I never realised were there, when I was using it purely to have online meetings with clients. So, when it came to running our Ireland events online I was keen to get stuck in. We had our first PSA Ireland online event in April … below are 7 tips that may be of interest if you’re running events for the PSA or indeed your own events.

1. WATCH AND LEARN FROM OTHERS

Before running the Ireland event, I attended several other PSA events, as well as attending Webinars and other online training. It was great to observe things being done well and observe some things that could have been a bit smoother. Many of these just teeny tiny things that had quite a large impact.

2. PRACTICE AND LEARN FROM YOURSELF!

I practiced on Zoom with my family, my friends, my ukulele club, my cycling buddies and anyone else

that would let me! Who could you practice with or on?

3. GET COMFORTABLE WITH THINGS GOING WRONG – THEY WILL!

This is something you probably know already. However, how you deal with things going wrong is what can be the difference between it feeling awkward for everyone, or just “one of those things”. In my opening remarks, at our April event, I was sure to mention it was our first virtual event and that things would be unlikely to run completely smoothly. That meant that when we had a blip I was able to say, “See, I told you things would go wrong!” For my own webinars and virtual training, I have several “go-to” phrases I can use. Trust me, I use them regularly!

So, maybe find a few “go-to” phrases for yourself that will tumble nicely off your tongue.

4. HAVE THE MOBILE NUMBERS OF YOUR SPEAKERS

Following on from the above point, what went wrong for us was that one of our keynotes lost connection, like he actually dropped completely off the meeting! I had his mobile number so I was able to revert to my brilliant co-host, see my final point below … he got a conversation going amongst the attendees, while I was able to go and call the speaker on his mobile. The speaker was having difficulty re-connecting, so we took our planned break a little early.

We then had the final few minutes of our disconnected speaker after the break.

5. DELEGATE, DELEGATE, DELEGATE!

When we meet face to face in Ireland, we have a MEMBERS ONLY segment for approximately an hour and a half before the meeting proper.

I was keen that our virtual event felt as close to the norm, as possible, so retained this element.

However, the downside was that I was on-line from before 09:00 until almost 14:00! Our event actually ended at 13:00 but as host, I felt I should stay on until the last person left.

By the end of it my eyes felt as dry as the Sahara (we tend to blink around half as much when looking at the screen) and I was absolutely exhausted!

I know what you are thinking – why did she not delegate?? Good question! Well, for our May event I did just that and delegated the member’s only part to my hugely capable Vice President Paul Davis.

6. DON’T TRY TO BE PERFECT!

This relates back to number 2 – relax, enjoy it and don’t yourself too seriously. It is a PSA event not World Congress!

7. NAB YOURSELF A FANTASTIC CO-HOST!

The best thing, for me, for our virgin virtual event was having a fantastic co-host … drum roll, for … Roger Fairhead. It gave me enormous comfort to know I had an experienced, cool, calm, zoom guru as my co-host. He also spoke for us on using Zoom and other cool tools. Now, I don’t want Roger to be inundated so find your own super-duper co-host who can help you.

Those are my seven tips – I hope you find them useful for your PSA events and maybe even your own ones too!