An Introduction to Public Speakers

Thousands of talks are given by speakers around the UK every week to both entertain and inform. If you’re a local club organising a member event or want to try public speaking yourself, this article will cover some common questions about getting started.

public speakerDo you enjoy hearing interesting stories and expanding your knowledge?

Thousands of talks are given by speakers around the UK every week to both entertain and inform.

Perhaps you’re even one of those brave enough to speak yourself, engaging listeners with your experiences and adventures.

Either booking a speaker or giving a local talk yourself can be hugely rewarding.

If you’re a local club organising a member event or want to try public speaking yourself, this article will cover some common questions about getting started.

Speaker definition

By speaker, we simply mean someone who provides public talks on various subjects, according to their expertise and interests.

Anyone can be a speaker, providing talks for any organised event, in meetings for clubs like U3A or Probus, or in retirement homes for residents and local attendees.

At Mirthy, most of our speakers are booked by club secretaries, or by retirement development managers. And while many of our speaker events are geared towards those in later life, talks can be arranged for other groups and occasions too.

Read on to discover more.

The benefits of organising an event

For millennia, humans have gathered around campfires to listen to stories and local talks are the modern equivalent.

If you have a willing audience, organising a speaking event is a great form of entertainment.

Talks can be informative, especially if the speaker possesses specialist knowledge and experience.

Speakers endeavour to make their talks interactive and engaging, encouraging audience participation wherever possible.

This complements the social interaction of attendees after the event, who frequently form new friendships and develop overlapping interests.

Types of speaker

There isn’t really a specific type of speaker per se, other than someone with the confidence to talk to a group.

As such, speakers come in many different forms, including:

  • Celebrities and people of note
  • Motivational speakers
  • Professionals creating business opportunities
  • Toastmasters improving their public speaking skills
  • After dinner speakers
  • Volunteer retirees doing it for fun

While there’s significant demand for speakers from member organisations and retirement homes, Mirthy can help facilitate talks for any occasion.

Why people give talks

Some speakers provide talks to champion a worthwhile cause or promote their organisation.

Charities sometimes send representatives to speak to interest groups to increase awareness and appeal to new supporters.

Other speakers might attempt to create business opportunities for themselves or their company.

However, the vast majority of speakers are simply involved for the intrinsic enjoyment it provides, following their passion and imparting their knowledge for the benefit of others.

talks with microphone

How much does a speaker cost?

Speaker costs vary depending on the individual, their reasons for delivering the talk and their subject matter or expertise.

Some of our speakers volunteer freely, especially if it’s a worthwhile cause or project, while others may charge £40-80 for their services.

It’s also worth noting that speaker location may influence the final price, especially if transport and accommodation are required to participate in the event.

How do we know if they’re good?

We vet our speakers carefully to ensure they’re well matched for our audience.

We recruit many individuals through word of mouth recommendations, demonstrating that their talks have been well received by previous audiences.

In the future, we hope to implement a more formal review system, whereby our members can rate their experience and thus provide useful information for future bookers, including speaker secretaries and general users.

What kind of talks are available?

Think of any subject, however specialised, and there will be someone who can talk about it.

From local history and beekeeping to theatre and travel, there’s no limit to available speakers.

Here are some examples from our popular performers:

  • Wilf Lower – “Lost Empires – The Last Days of Music Hall & Variety”
  • Alan Coxon – Ex Chief Superintendent of Police gives a talk on “My Time in Parliament” when he was in charge of security.
  • Gilly Halcrow – “The History of Food and Drink and Table Manners”

Click here to see a curated selection of speakers on the Mirthy database.

How to organise a local event

If you’d like to host a local speaking event, there are some vital considerations.

Firstly, you need to decide when and where you’ll host the event. Obviously picking a time and place to maximise attendees is important.

Secondly, it’s important to gauge your audience and their interests.

At Mirthy, we provide talks for many later lifers and know topics that are in demand. Asking your members what they want beforehand can help uncover an appropriate speaker.

Thirdly, if you’re on a budget, bear in mind any speaker costs and additional expenses, information which should be available before booking.

On our platform, we match enthusiastic speakers with those searching for local talks, so feel free to reach out for more information.

What’s the best location?

You might be able to hire a room or host the event in a local establishment, such as a community centre, cafe or pub.

However, ensuring that you have a quiet environment is vital so everyone can hear.

Ideally, it’s preferable to arrange a separate area for the event, especially if the talk is for paid members or ticket holders.

Thinking about refreshments and toilet facilities is also important.

At Mirthy, many of our talks are held in the communal areas of retirement homes and villages, providing the perfect facilities for residents and members of the local community to come together in a social setting.

Is any equipment required?

speaking manThe exact equipment required will largely depend on the speaker.

However, it’s always good to provide access to a television or projector so that talks can be made more interactive.

A speaker might wish to supplement their script with slides, photos or videos, which make the experience more immersive.

Giving the speaker access to a PA system is easier on the ear and helps preserve the speaker’s voice!

A loop system is also available in some venues, which can be useful for hearing aid users to connect directly to the audio and cut out any background noise.

Otherwise, simply supplying enough chairs for your audience should be the only other consideration.

How can I have a go?

It’s easy! At Mirthy, we’re constantly welcoming new speakers to our community. If you’re interested, simply get in touch.

It’s worth noting that you don’t need to be a professional speaker or subject matter expert. It’s simply enough to be enthusiastic and convey that energy to your audience.

When you reach out to us, we’ll likely ask you a few questions, including whether you’ve given talks before, what your specialisms are, your location and any fees you charge.

We’ll give you the opportunity to include as much information as you’d like, so as to better promote your profile to our audience.

Speaking tips

Public speaking can be a daunting endeavour, so here are some essentials to remember when planning your talks:

Pick an appropriate subject

It’s always easier to talk about a familiar subject. You won’t have to research as much and the material should flow, even with pre-talk jitters. That’s not to say that other subjects are precluded. If you’re curious enough to research a topic, your excitement should easily transfer to the audience.

Keep it simple

It’s important to remember that you’re often addressing beginners, so while you might be an expert in your topic, your audience may require simplified explanations. To create a compelling talk, ensure everyone understands the subject matter, even if it covers a complex topic.

Speak clearly

It’s important to slow down and project your voice during public speaking. After all, when nerves get the better of us, we frequently rush through our material. Consciously slowing down allows the crowd to keep up with the content and internalise your message. Also, keep the language simple without overusing technical terms.

Make eye contact

Even if you’re nervous, it’s important to engage your audience using eye contact. Ideally, you should treat your talk like a two-way conversation, bringing each attendee into the discussion to keep them involved throughout.

Tell stories

Stories provide the perfect vehicle for memorable talks, allowing the audience to relate more readily with the message. While force feeding information can become tiring, weaving narratives into your talk is far more interesting.

Use humour

Although humour can be a powerful technique and get your audience on-side in an instant, it’s also risky tactic. Humour is effectively employed when you know your audience and can predict their response to avoid any lead balloons.

Utilise a multimedia approach

To make your presentation more interactive, try including music or visual props like slides, photos and videos. If certain audience members have visual or hearing problems, this can help make your talk more inclusive.

Finding a speaker

If you’re organising a talk, you’re in the right place! We offer speakers for a range of different events, mainly catered to retirees.

Currently, we’re developing our platform to improve the experience of finding or providing local talks.

In the meantime, feel free to reach out to us and we can recommend some options from our database of speakers in your area!

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