The President`s Report For the year 2014/2015 This is a report on

The President’s Report
For the year 2014/2015
This is a report on the activities of the President’s Council and the association for the past year. It
will be set out under the following headings:
Through the Year
Critical Assessment
Looking forward
The current team took office immediately following an AGM in which changes were effected to the
constitution to reflect the dominance of the association by the professional members. The theme for
the year was to be ‘Professionally Speaking’. The team (initially) was as follows:
Roger Knowles
Deputy President
Robin Pullen
Chris Vermeulen
Imm Past Pres
Jacques de Villiers
Gauteng President
Siphiwe Moyo
Cape Town President
Charlotte Kemp
KZN President
Chantaul Jordan
The Gauteng President resigned after a couple of months, due to a career change. We were
fortunate to have Jacques de Villiers step into the post; experienced in the job, he proceeded to run
the chapter for the rest of the year.
2. Objectives
The theme chosen for the year was, ‘Professionally Speaking’. Thus, the first objective was to
emphasise professionalism.
The financial condition of the association was gloomy due to the significant loss of membership over
the preceding three years; there were no longer sufficient members to fund the operation
effectively without dipping into reserved funds, which we were reluctant to do. So, keeping a tight
control on money was a second objective.
The third goal arose from the first – to stop the membership drain and to build membership.
The fourth objective was to arrange a superb convention in Cape Town.
Effective, if not superb, communication, was the final objective.
3. Management
Wary of the fact that most years have seen a struggling, lonely president presiding over a minimalist
committee and equally struggling chapter heads, it was decided to focus on the chapters, while
appointing ‘Champions’ for other objectives. The National President would focus on the national
After the initial meeting of the Presidents Council in Johannesburg, all further meetings were
conducted via Skype; regular discussions were held on important issues. E-mail was frequently used
for discussion, as well as communication of factual issues.
We had three superb and motivated Chapter Presidents in Charlotte, Chantaul and Jacques. Only the
two women had committees; Gauteng members are notorious in their reluctance to volunteer their
services. Nevertheless, the three did an excellent job, due to their hard work and commitment and
the fact that they shared ideas for meetings via regular Skype communication.
4. Through the Year
At the last convention, Stef du Plessis suggested a group tour of the KZN battlefields, to be led by
Rob Caskie, who was a superb and popular speaker at the convention. Initially greeted with
enthusiasm, the event was poorly attended. However, the seven folk who attended enjoyed an
excellent trip, with first-class accommodation, catering and of course, Rob Caskie, who is a worldclass speaker and topic expert.
The regular monthly chapter meetings were stimulating and were generally well attended.
Innovative ideas were incorporated, mainly driven from Cape Town. These included –
Live streaming of chapter meetings, so members in other parts of the country could ‘attend’
those functions;
Virtual speakers at meetings by overseas and local speakers, via Skype; at times a shaky
platform, it usually held out and afforded our members the opportunity to invite speakers
from other parts of the world; this now a firm part of our national practice.
Occasionally, guest speakers pre-recorded short video presentations and sent those to the
meetings. This was occasionally followed by a Skype connection at which the speaker would
respond to questions from the members.
Pecha kucha was employed regularly, particularly in KZN. When the owners of the rights
objected, one of our members in Durban employed his software developers to create our
own ‘Tweny-One’, which works on a similar basis. It is a stimulating and valuable exercise for
Chantaul in KZN worked on another angle to make meetings exciting; she introduced
multiple speakers and other inserts, to keep attendees interested not just with quality
programs, but with variety. She also arranged for video recording of meetings.
Some tentative progress was made towards the establishment of a Virtual Chapter; it is hoped to get
this project operational in the coming year.
Two of our members achieved the pinnacle of professional speaking, achieving the CSP status, last
year. We are really proud of –
Haydee Antezana; and
Sharon King.
The PSASA was represented at the PSA (UK) annual convention in London, by Roger Knowles, Paul du
Toit, Charlotte Kemp and Richard Mulvey. We were delighted to find that the opening speaker at the
convention was Paul du Toit. He also made us extra proud when he was deservedly awarded the
prestigious Honorary Fellowship of the Professional Speaking Association of the United Kingdom.
We have a special relationship with the PSA. Evidence of this will be seen at our own convention and
in our future planning – their success in reaching record numbers is our inspiration.
Late in 2014, we presented a seminar in Durban, entitled “Getting Paid to Speak”. Unsurprisingly, it
was well attended. Had we followed up more enthusiastically – mea culpa – we might have recruited
6 – 8 new members, instead of one. But, four of the other potentials are still regular guest, so there
is hope! I would like to see each Chapter presenting this seminar at least once every year.
Another thing we did to improve our relationship with our existing and future members, was to
modernise and ‘soften’ our communications; we have re-designed the renewal letter, for example,
and the letters sent to defaulters. We need to keep people on board.
Every month, thanks to Nikki Bush, we sent out an interesting, easy-to-read and stimulating
newsletter. Speaking as the person who started the newsletters, I record my admiration and
gratitude for her effort – it is really hard work, much appreciated. She has volunteered to continue
her good work.
Another exceptionally hard worker, is Charlotte. Together with her husband Richard, she has done a
huge amount of work to create this year’s convention, while also running the Cape chapter.
Although I am writing this in advance of the event, I know it will be superb. Cape Town has really set
the bar high this year, in every respect. I am extremely grateful to them and to the other members
of the Presidents Council, for all the hard work – unseen by most people, but very much in evidence
to those in the know.
While thanking people, I make mention of our marvellous administrators, Pat Carson and Simone
Scholtz. They were both amazing – always available, even at astonishing 8hours, always both ready
to help and to contribute both support and advice. Both focus intensely on delivering good service
and keeping members happy. My gratitude to them both!
The end result of the year as far as membership is concerned, was to retain (as at end March, so not
in the stats) the exact number of members we started with. This is not good, but it is a huge step
forward; we have been losing members for years; we are on the brink of real membership growth.
5. Critical Assessment
Things worked. To a degree. What was missing? More events: we need regular workshops, not
simply monthly meetings. These should be open to members at a reasonable price and some of
them (not all) should be open to guests, at double the price, or more. The point is, there must be
more on offer, to satisfy our members and to attract others.
We did not follow up energetically enough, with guests, in my view. Cape Town was the exception;
Charlotte developed a superb follow-up system, including a coffee-meeting with each potential
member, to have a serious one-on-one with each of them.
We did not do enough with the web site. We need constant discussion and attention to this.
More contact is needed with members. Mea culpa again. I had intended to make contact with more
members, but circumstances conspired to limit this. I am sure my successors will do it better. We
need a ‘champion’ to lead the professionals, with events such as those that Graeme Codrington has
We must have more participation by the ‘big hitters’. Leadership and administration of this
association has been left to enthusiastic, but under-qualified folk (in terms of speaking success and
therefore credibility) for too long.
We need to stimulate the SIGS. Champions are needed here, to guide these special interest groups.
6.Looking Forward
All this means more work. For this we need a better system and more volunteers. Forget about
getting the leadership to do more – too much is already expected of too few.
Changes must be made, and will. The incoming leadership for the next two or three years (note the
succession plan please) and the current leadership have been indulging in some really energetic and
creative discussions, to modernise our system and our approach and take us forward to greater
success than we have imagined. I look forward to being part of that.
Roger Knowles
April 2015