This Saturday on the 13th I went to see a speaker talk in Minneapolis on Nicollet Ave. I had found out about the event from a website called Meetup.com. There was a travel author planning to speak at a meeting room in a coffee shop about how living internationally can change your perspective. I thought that was intriguing so I went! It was at 2p.m that Saturday and there wasn’t a time scheduled for it to end.
When I had got to the shop I was about 10 minutes late, I had trouble finding parking and the coffee shop. After I got some tea I made my way to the meeting room past the restroom hallway, where a woman greeted me at the door with a form that she said we’ll all be filling out for fun. I said thanks and then found my seat. The room couldn’t fit I’d say no more than 60 people, with chairs on a rack and a whiteboard and projector screen in the front of the room. After grabbing my chair and taking a seat, I saw that the form ask us things like where did you grow up, where have you visited, and where have you lived? It didn’t take long to fill that thing out.
As I see people one by one filling the room, people chatter as they fill out the sheets, it was fairly noisy. Once people had stopped coming in the lady at the door joined us in the room to enthusiastically introduce the speaker Catherine Watson. The lady at the door was Sarah, one of the founders of the Meetup.com group and a friend of Catherine’s she explained. Sarah stated some of Catherine’s accomplishments like being a pioneer for travel writing in American newspapers, being the first travel editor at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, how she teaches travel writing in colleges throughout the U.S, and how she’s been around the world three times!
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When Catherine got up front, there were lots of claps, hey some in the front even standing. She hugged Sarah and thanked her, then greeted us with a “Good afternoon my fellow Minnesotans”. Hah that right off the bat got my attention. She then introduced herself a lot more humbly than her friend Sarah did, stating that she was in town visiting family and how she just had to come talk to Sarah’s group. Catherine said she really had nothing planned to talk about, that it might be about anything and everything or nothing at all hah. Even though she said this it didn’t seem as so, what she said that afternoon seemed quite structured. She established relevance by stating that she grew up in Minnesota and asked people to raise their hands if they did too. About ½ of the room of about 50 raised their hands. With the other half, Catherine asked them what continents they were raised in and then what country, after that she would complement the place briefly and say when she went there. Her purpose was to just be there and have fun with us she said.
There wasn’t a preview of the body of the speech at all. But as she got to talking she did state her main points clearly when she got to them. She talked about how she grew up and how that led her to traveling, her jobs and places she’s been, and what she’s learned from traveling. The main points were all supported by personal experiences and visual aids of her old and recent pictures! The organization of Catherine’s speech definitely made sense. Her transitions were effortless and effective, almost like they weren’t there. There wasn’t much of any summarizing of main points, but rather just briefly reminding the audience of what she talked about before when something related to it. The central idea to travel and gain knowledge as well as a different perspective was reinforced nicely by her stating that we all grow up beautifully different and wouldn’t you like to see how beautifully? That ending also created closure. There were some sources cited in her speech, ones on the population and languages of places by cia.gov.
The pace of her speech, was great, no flaws other than when she would take a minute to remember something, but that was fine hah. Her eyes moved all the way through the room evenly, it was nice. She would even take the time to look at certain people when she talked about places they said they were from. Catherine was one that talked gently with her hands, her kind subtle gestures complimented her voice and personality. Pauses were used effectively when she spoke, giving us time to take in the surprisingly small and large populations of places she’s been to as well as her own experiences. For her the vocal variety was there and engaging, she would use words I never heard before, and I wouldn’t of known what they were if she didn’t say a similar word after them, like the words epoch and sundry. There was enthusiasm throughout her whole time in front of the audience, you could tell she loved her life and job! This enthusiasm then transferred to us, making us feel the same! There were no notecards or outline, it seemed like Catherine was just going off what she knew! Which was cool. And again the visual aids of her photos were very appealing and effective.
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The meeting and speech took about an hour and a half, this includes the time we had after to talk amongst ourselves and with her! I thought Catherine’s speech was very interesting and open, I enjoyed the part about her growing up here and then how she felt after all the traveling. It was a bit long, but worth it.