Monday, March 10, 2008

Sumatra chickens

I gave a short talk with slides to my local Toastmasters group today, about Raising Poultry in Small Flocks. It reminded me that not everyone -- in fact, very few people -- understand how beautiful and varied chickens are.

Sumatras, for example, such as the ones above, photographed by Corallina Bruer. They are a land race, a breed little changed by human intervention with selective breeding. They knock your eyes out, with that glossy iridescent plumage. They were a complete surprise to the group.

It was satisfying to introduce these people to the world of traditional breed poultry. And a good reminder to me that not everyone knows a Sumatra from a Dominique! I shall expand my horizons to share this information with more groups.

Toastmasters International,, is a terrific organization I joined because I needed to improve my public speaking skills. Being prepared to advocate for poultry and small flock owners requires me to be ready at any time to make the case. Toastmasters provides a route to learning how to speak effectively, but also helps increase understanding of how organizations work and how to get the job done in a group. Every meeting is a challenge and the group helps me improve. I'm very grateful to be a member.

It's like being in a class, only much better because each person takes responsibility for one or more aspects of the meeting. One person makes a formal evaluation, which is a listening and speaking skill of its own, while others count the number of times you say 'aahh' and 'umm', another listens for grammar and another times the length of the talk. Speaking for the appropriate length of time is important, for the experience you get as a speaker and as a courtesy to your audience.

I was flattered today, when the person operating the timer became so engrossed in my talk, he forgot to check the time! My seven-minute talk went on for nearly 11 minutes. A fault that can perhaps be forgiven, with such great material.

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