My first time back to Pride after the summer siesta

Gran ViaThe moon slide out from behind the clouds as a gentle wind swirled small piles of leaves across the Grand Via boardwalk. Having just stepped out from a much needed massage, not a stone's throw from the forum, I gently rubbed my neck, stretched my arms to the sky and smiled. It would be the first time I would be back to Pride after the summer siesta, and I felt extraordinarily content to reconnect and learn. Storytelling...well, good storytelling, is a rare gift, and everyone has an experience to share. As long as they share it with heart and purpose, a common occurrence at Pride, I walk away feeling fulfilled, brimming with pensive thoughts and overflowing questions. Yes, I was giddy to return.


The group this evening was small, but warmth filled the air. The energy in the room, if we're to be honest, felt like the ebb and flow of a sea. We began the evening with a charming intro from visiting Toastmaster, Nika Hadzhikidi, who pounced in front of the group with a bubbly kind spirit and a smile that could ease the most riotous of groups. Her style was infectious, but as the tide pulled back out, the group felt heavy and tired, like a slow moving tortoise meandering across a wide grassy spanse. And as quickly as the energy was sucked out, a wind of laughter would infuse us again, forcing the water to return. It was just one of those evenings most likely caused by the weather depression.


 Prince Duah was our first speaker of the evening, a thin, young and vibrant guy from Ghana who shared a very uplifting and moving icebreaker on his life and how he "accidentally" found himself in Barcelona. Spoken without notes, his story was sweet and very thoughtful, taking us through his lineage, his short escapes to various other worldly locations to eventually find himself in his stepmother's homeland in Catalunya. His luck, most likely instigated by his positive go-getting spirit and trusting smile, has guided him to a job that makes him happy, a city that enchants him, and a community that has adopted him. Using great eye contact, fluid transitions, my only major suggestions were based on more flexible body movements - where he could use more of the space, while utilizing his wonderful ability to truly speak his emotions from the heart than by memory. It was a wonderful start to a long series of talks we all expect from him in the future.

Lesson Learned: There's nothing wrong with speaking from the heart, especially when the subject is about you.

David Puyuelo gave his Competent Communicator's #2 speech titled," Lessons from the Empire". As my work has been primarily focused on Eastern Europe and the Middle East recently, I was very keen to hear his talk on the Ottoman Empire - a speech that was incredibly well researched and clearly of interest to David. From the Turks discipline to their stamina, it was clear that the Ottoman's culture allowed for an endless pursuit of success, one which many of us - including myself - may not entirely possess anymore. No better exemplified by their walking approximately 32k a day to end the day with a 3 hour fort building session...yeah, not happening :) For my part, I feel this speech was very entertaining, educational and met the requirements laid out before him. His presence was very warm, his vast knowledge of the subject was clearly evident, and if he has simply pared down the content a bit, I think it would have been great. However, like all of us who want to do our best, he bit off a lot of information to pitch in a very short amount of time. And when using several numbers and subcategories, there's a high likelihood of getting lost.

Lesson learned for all of us: KISS - Keep it Simple Stupid, a saying I repeat to myself daily :)

Angel Toribilo was the last and final speaker who gave his speech from Interpersonal Communication #1 on "Conversing with Ease". His goal was to initiate a conversation with a stranger and show how to make appropriate transitions, while asking open-ended questions, to achieve a successful conversation. Angel started his speech providing great points on how to work your way into a conversation without intimidating or scaring off the stranger using simple tools such as: a genuine smile, small talk, open ended questions to provide small details about yourself, and finally, the emotional bond. His roleplaying with a stranger at a wedding was clear and to the point, giving us that great sense of "I'm uncomfortable but it's nice to talk to someone" feeling. My suggestions were to providing a bit more information on body language, not to mention to use a powerpoint to illustrate simple points that we should keep in mind, such as "be approachable". These words, or an image, on the screen can help us all stay connected to the conversation, while at the same time, giving the speaker more room for play as the key word is behind him/her. Overall, he did well, as usual giving us his dashing smile, articulate diction and warm approach.

Lesson learned: Simple props can help give texture to a speech while nailing down the main actionable points that the audience can walk away with. 

As for the Table Topics Lluis Cona did a fab session with pictures of individuals in odd clothing, asking each volunteer to explain a situation where they either were wearing the clothing or where they had to make those around them do it. Great improve, fast thinking and good spirit prevailed. Maybe one of these days I'll get up there and volunteer too :) 

In short, my night came to a close just as I had expected. I felt content that maybe, just maybe, we all walked away feeling as if we are still all connected, and share a common familiar experience. And if that's what I can take away each and every time, it's absolutely worth it.