Helpful information for Public Speakers

Some helpful information for Public Speakers

I was an Insurance Broker before I took early retirement and my company, Pennington Insurance Brokers have negotiated with an underwriter to provide Public Liability and Accidental Damage cover for Public Speakers at a very modest premium.
The director in charge of these negotiations is Simon Etchells and if you would like to speak to him about your insurance requirements telephone: 0121 557 6728 or visit Pennington Insurance Brokers website - scroll to the bottom of the page to click through.

Public Liability Insurance

You may not be able to extend your home insurance policy to include Public Liability whilst you are in a venue in connection with your Public Speaking activities. It is worthwhile enquiring with your insurers to see if they will add this extra cover to your home insurance policy as that would probably be the least expensive option.
Why do you need Public Liability insurance?…. well, suppose you arrive at the venue and find that the only electric plug socket happens to be about twenty metres from where you are required to set up your equipment and give your talk. That’s fine, you always carry an extension lead with you, so you pop out to your car and fetch it so that you can get everything up and running. Unfortunately, not all clubs have protective mats or tape to cover the trailing cable, so from the moment you roll out your extension cable till the moment you reel it back in, you are at risk of someone tripping over it…. and that can be a claim on your liability insurance for a sprained wrist to a broken hip – or worse.

Equipment Insurance

Unless you are a ‘stand alone’ speaker you will have amassed quite a bit of equipment in connection with your talks, lap-top, projector, speakers, mic, screen etc. – possibly something in the region of £1000 to £1500. This equipment is on the move quite a bit, in and out of your car, in and out of the venues where, sometimes, there are lots of people milling about. It is exactly the sort of scenario where accidents can happen, a cup of tea or a glass of wine can get spilt into the laptop, or someone may knock against your projector stand…..

It is possible that your home insurers will extend the contents section of your policy to give you accidental damage cover for the equipment used in connection with your business as a public speaker – but some companies won’t – especially if you have taken out a policy for ‘over sixties’ at a reduced premium. If you can persuade your insurers to arrange this cover as an ‘add on’ to your policy it is by far the cheapest option. If not, then you’ll need to consider arranging your home insurance policy with a different insurer who is more sympathetic to your requirements because you are unlikely to find an Insurance Company who will arrange an Accidental Damage policy for such a few items with such a small sum insured as £1,000/£2,000.

I was an Insurance Broker before I took early retirement and my company, Pennington Insurance Brokers can provide the cover you require.  One of our directors, Simon Etchells  negotiated with an insurance underwriter to be able to offer Public Speakers insurance cover for Accidental Damage to Equipment and also Public Liability. If you’d like to speak to Simon about your insurance requirements telephone: 0121 557 6728 or visit the Pennington Insurance Brokers website.

PAT Testing

In a nutshell – if your appliance has a plug that has to be connected into a wall socket then you need to have it PAT tested…. and labelled to prove that the PAT testing is current (ie was done within the past twelve months). So, unless you’re a standalone speaker, you are going to find that, in the next few years, venues will be asking to see proof that your equipment has been PAT tested. So far, in my own experience, during the past ten years, the subject of PAT testing has been raised about ten times by the Booking/Programme secretary when a booking was being made. However, only twice have I arrived at the venue and been asked to supply the proof.  Once was at an hotel and it was the manager’s assistant who came over to check the labels on my equipment to make sure that they were up to date and before that, in 2012 I gave a talk to Abbots Bromley WI in Staffordshire and as their venue is a beautiful, half timbered, listed building they do have a vested interest in not allowing it to be burnt down! It isn’t a big deal, getting it done, you’ll need to take all of your electrical equipment along for testing and certification – don’t forget your extension lead – I did, so I had to make a second trip. It took about an hour. Each piece of equipment that has been tested is labelled with its own ID and the ‘retest date’.  Back in 2009 the friendly fellow who did mine charged a tenner for the lot, though last year in 2017 having moved, I had to find someone else and although he came to my house which was useful, it cost £25.00.  So, search the internet and find yourself a small local one-man operation, otherwise, you can end up doing a talk just to cover the cost of getting your equipment tested!
Once your equipment is tested the PAT engineer lodges the information online so that interested parties such as the Program/Speaker/Bookings Secretary can access it.  I have to admit I wouldn’t have a clue about how to access this information myself and I doubt whether there are many Program Secretaries who are clued up on the concept at the moment.
To an extent though, this responsibility for getting our equipment tested is disappearing because larger clubs, theatres and hotel venues all have their own equipment and all you are expected to do is to turn up with a dongle…. and that doesn’t have to be PAT tested.

Hints and tips for making your talk more inclusive for people with sensory impairments - Georgette Vale

Georgette Vale a speaker of long standing here at Public Speakers Corner has very kindly taken the trouble to send this very useful information for inclusion on our Helpful Information page:-

The reason for writing this is simply because many of your audiences will have some degree of hearing loss and or sight loss –even more so if you speak to older age groups! A few simple suggestions can make everyone feel included and get the most out what you have to offer. There is no need to re-write your talk or make any major adaptions and there is certainly no need to worry about it.

Visual Impairment
The kind of problems that arise are when speakers have a highly complicated graph and say “So you see – that speaks for itself” when they could easily say “Here is a graph that shows just how cold the temperature was in the 1820’s”. Even a series of slides about art work or pretty photographs can be made more accessible by saying a few words about each picture. If the odd few bits cannot be easily explained most people accept that, if an apology is made.
Just a suggestion – If you have audio description on your TV (either a button that says AD – or go into the settings) and watch a programme that is audio described. It is quite simple in some ways – a voice over that says “he is walking through a leafy glade” or “Now a city scape – with birds overhead” “He picks up the dagger – and looks towards us with a wry smile” – You get the picture? (Pun intended!)

Hearing Impairment
Unless you have a very strong clear voice and are trained in voice projection techniques a microphone is often needed but speakers hate using the temperamental things.
The main tip I have for using a microphone is to rehearse with it before the talk starts. So many times, I see people handed a microphone that someone else has tested to see if it works – and then find out that the person doing the speaking holds it a bit differently and has a different level of breath control and a voice at a different frequency. To my mind it is all part of the setting up process.
Whether using a microphone or not you still need to direct your voice to the audience so chin up! if you need to drop head to read your notes try either having the notes held up a bit – or look down to read and look up to speak.
Often I see situations where someone starts well “Can you all hear me?” and then they drop their head and drop their voice, drop the microphone and so drop their standards