Both the first Rostrum Club in Australia and I were born in 1930. We both look forward to celebrating our centenary together.

I left school when I was only fourteen to join the P.M.G. (then Telecom) So my formal education was minimal.

However, by much study, hard work and ambition, I became a Supervisor in my late twenties. The next step was Manager. I knew that I had weaknesses which could affect my career. One was the absolute physical fear of speaking to an audience – any audience. I had to overcome it but how - how.?

Then I heard about Rostrum and how it helps people like me. So I joined in Club 28, (now defunct) based in the CBD, which held lunchtime meetings. At my first meeting I looked around at the members – all professional men (no women -that came much later) and was terrified they would ask me to speak -I knew I couldn’t.

But they didn’t; not at that meeting or the next . But at the one after; the topic they gave me was “why aren’t you a blood doner ‘ (I later became one). I stumbled through it. The Judges (not Coaches) were not too hard on my effort but – from then on !!!!

The teaching technique used we called ‘make or break’. Weaknesses were highlighted and met with harsh, sometimes unjust, criticism. Praise was rare and had to be earned. It was all based at simulating conditions in the ‘real’ world of business. There was a lot of collateral damage as some members couldn’t stand the pressure but those that could became tough and survived – as I did.

But I learned so much; I learned how to chair a meeting, deal with hecklers, handle motions and amendments, the techniques of good speeches, the importance of checking data sources before making decisions, accepting you will make wrong ones, interview techniques – and so much more. But the most important thing I learned was confidence. I can honestly say that, without Rostrum, I would not have reached where I did in my career.

I retired in 1986 as a Senior Executive at National Headquarters- not bad for a 14 yo boy with little education.

Softly softly qupteA few years ago I heard an ad for Rostrum over the radio. Out of curiosity and nostalgia I went along to a meeting of Club 68 in Carnegie. It was like wearing an old much loved jumper, I felt immediately back at home – but everything was different.

Coaches had replaced Judges. Men and women were there; there was a social atmosphere, no pressures. Training was not the old harsh methods but ‘softly,softly, with encouragement, praise and empathy replacing criticism . It seemed to work !!

I have learned that Rostrum can also be fun – but is that the real world ? we will have to wait and see.

Clyde Woods - Member Vic Rostrum Club 68.



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