One of the most wonderful things about the WI is how resilient our members are. When our speaker for June fell ill unexpectedly on the day of our meeting, it didn't take long for us to rally and find a replacement.
Fortunately, fire protection expert David Woodward of Tas Valley Fire came to the rescue to give us an incredibly informative and eye-opening talk about fire safety. As well as taking us through some of the common misconceptions about fire protection in the home, David also gave us an insight into the latest smoke detector tech. Having spent over three decades working for Norfolk Fire Service, David had plenty of fascinating stories about his career and the incidents he attended. We'll be recommending his services to other WIs, who may be interested in learning how to keep fire safe in their homes and workplaces.
Elsewhere, although 2020 feels like a long way away, WI committees are already planning their programme. It can be quite a daunting process to begin; with over forty members in Swallowtail WI, our challenge is to find something that everyone will enjoy. This year, we decided to hand our programme planning over to our members, by equipping everyone with a pen and Post-It note and asking them what or who they would like to see at our upcoming meetings.
As expected, we got a lot of different suggestions, from cookery demonstrations and crafting sessions, to meditation and bee keeping. One request was for creative writing, so I’m going to lead a workshop and also share my experience of winning the Good Housekeeping Novel Competition and what it’s like to have my debut novel The Choice published by Orion.
That’s one month solved: how do we fill the rest of the year? Fortunately, the WI has a handy book of approved speakers, who have all been through the official audition process.
There are regular audition days throughout the year, when potential speakers have the chance to give their presentation in front of WI members. While friendlier than some of the Britain’s Got Talent judges, the ladies from the WI want to ensure that speakers are confident and their talks are interesting and entertaining.
You don’t need to be a professional speaker but you do need a good knowledge of your subject and be able to engage the audience. Visual aids are great, although not too long a slideshow and anything interactive is always popular. My favourites talks are the ones when everybody gets involved in the discussion.
At the end of the audition day, there’s a vote on whether the speakers will get Norfolk Federation’s official approval and make it into the hallowed Speakers Book. At the moment there are over one hundred and thirty speakers to choose from, covering subjects from local history, to forensic science, Bollywood dancing to a murder mystery game.
With so much to choose from, Swallowtail WI’s 2020 programme is going to be a lot of fun.
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