What’s all the excitement about?
Every year at the ASC, members from our clubs, which are spread all over the UK, come together for our National Conference. It is usually a three-day event (Friday to Sunday) and held at a different prestigious venue each year. Of course, Covid 19 put paid to our 2020 conference (which was due to take place in Manchester in April last year) and has also meant we’ve had to adapt our usual format to reflect the unusual times. But, we’re more than a little excited to announce that the ASC National Conference will finally go ahead on Saturday 18th September 2021 at thestudio venue in Birmingham.
What happens at conference?
There are usually a number of different elements to our conference, which make it a really stellar event, and although we cannot hold all the usual features this year (because we’ve had to abbreviate the format), here’s some of what you can expect:
The finals of our national competitions
Beginning in December or January, each year our clubs hold three competitions: a speech contest, an evaluation contest, and a topics contest. These represent the central part of our public speaking programme and winners at club level go on to compete at Area and then Regional level with the winners going on to the conference finals.
Whilst competition speaking isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and you don’t have to take part, it does introduce competitors to a whole new skill set – it’s a chance to speak in front of a new and ever-larger audience and there’s an added level of pressure. For those that really want to develop their speaking skills, this is a great way to practice and it’s good for your CV too of course. But it also means that when it comes to conference, our finalists are some of the best speakers in our association. It’s a real showcasing of talent and there’s always a real buzz and sense of anticipation. The winners will be featured in our bi-annual magazine and videos of their speeches will be uploaded to our YouTube channel.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be introducing this year’s finalists and we’ll also say hello to some of our judges. After all, judging competitions requires another unique set of skills and our judges have also worked their way through the ranks of club, Area and Regional contests learning the ropes and skills required.
Our keynote speaker
This year, we are also really excited to be welcoming the inspirational Richard McCann as our keynote speaker. When Richard was 5, his mother was murdered by notorious serial killer, Peter Sutcliffe. Despite other tragic losses, and a period of dabbling with drugs and prison, Richard decided to turn his life around. Now a motivational speaker and loving family man, with a ﬁlm of his life in development, Richard has delivered over 2500 presentations around the world, inspiring audiences with his story of overcoming adversity and sharing his powerful iCan approach. In 2009 he founded the iCanSpeak Academy, training individuals and teams to enhance their presentation skills and communicate their message authentically and with conﬁdence so they achieve more effective results.
The ASC AGM is an important part of the ASC calendar, and an opportunity to see under the bonnet of how the ASC works. For anyone interested in the detail of running a national organisation or being involved in ensuring that the organisation evolves and develops appropriately, this is the place to be. It’s also a great learning experience, as well as a chance to experience the cut and thrust of debate in respect of any changes required. It also usually involves the election of new key personnel who will make up the Senior Leadership Team for the forthcoming year.
A meeting of minds
Since the pandemic, members of the ASC have become an increasingly close-knit community and we have a dynamic members-only Facebook group. There’s a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes amongst members but as we’re spread all over the country, we rarely have a chance to meet up. Our conference is that chance. It’s a chance to catch up with old friends, form new friendships between members and clubs, and there really is a unique atmosphere of camaraderie and celebration. You leave your first conference with a sense of “wow”, I must do that again.
A new format
Of course, we’re not able to host our usual gala dinner this year, or some of our other events, but they will be back next year. More importantly, however, this year we will be live streaming some of the events to all our members across the country who can’t attend and we’re also hoping to Facebook Live some of our competitions – relying on just some of the skills we’ve learnt during the pandemic.
As our last conference was Edinburgh 2019, we’re more than a little excited to be able to host this event again at last. We’ll be bringing you lots more details over the coming weeks so stay tuned and you can find out more.