About Agora Speakers » How We Are Different Training in public speaking and leadership is not new. Only the term "public speaking" is relatively modern, and it merely updates what has been known since the times of Aristotle as "Rhetoric". The core model we use - learning by working on specific, goal-oriented or scenario-based projects of increasing complexity and receiving feedback and evaluation on each of them - has been around for over 2.000 years, and in fact is shared by many other public speaking organizations, workshops, seminars, and clubs. Check out this description of what was happening in a Roman classroom, more than 2.000 years ago. Beginners worked on a graded series of introductory exercises that familiarized them with a number of techniques that would need to be combined in a complete speech (e.g. telling a story, criticizing or defending a narrative’s plausibility, arguing a general thesis). … Students would then proceed to the more advanced exercise … in which they were given a hypothetical scenario and asked to speak on one or the other side of a judicial or deliberative dispute arising from it Erika Bailey (2019) A Historical View of the Pedagogy of Public Speaking, Voice and Speech Review, 13:1, 31-42, DOI: 10.1080/23268263.2018.1537218 Does this ring a bell with our prepared speeches and hot questions? Of course, we don't just use what the Romans did, just in the same way we don't use chariots anymore. We take the core concept and improve it. Here are only some of the things that make our organization and model unique and different from others: Educational We encourage and require a lot of out-of-club work and getting involved in the leadership of real projects in the community, unrelated to Agora. We want the public speakers that we train to actually go out in the wild and speak and the leaders that we train to actually have a real and positive impact on the world around them. In fact, for the above, clubs have a special VP of Community Leadership officer role that is focused solely on finding and leadership speaking opportunities for members. Most projects require a speech analysis part that focuses on analyzing good speeches from a particular viewpoint and exposes the club to a myriad of different speaking styles. We have some unique regular activities: Focused on critical thinking. Debates with a very special ruleset that encourage cooperation and allow a multiple-side view of problems. Language games focusing on language improvement for non-native language clubs Projects focusing on encouraging tolerance and peaceful coexistence We train in actual leadership through community projects that are implemented strictly outside of the Agora world We train speakers specifically in dealing with unexpected failures of all sorts and hostile audiences. We have thematic worldwide contests such as Best Educational Speech, Best Social Awareness Speech, or Best Storytelling. We have a strong social orientation and we want to train real leaders, not future speech consultants. We encourage clubs to experiment and try out new ideas for educational activities and if they work, we standardize them for all clubs. We develop our educational materials and rulebooks with feedback from the whole community. We actively search to make available our educational materials to all possible languages. All our educational production is free for members. Organizational We're free. There are no fees or purchases necessary. There are no club chartering fees, or setup fees, or membership fees, or sign-up fees, as long as your club is open to everyone. All club materials can be produced/printed locally at your most convenient provider. There's no need to order them from a faraway location and be paying shipping costs. Staring a club requires only 8 members. A club can charter in a day with zero paperwork - just fill in an online form. Our organizational and contest structure matches political and administrative boundaries. So, if you win a contest, you're the "Best Educational Speaker of Spain" (for example), and not the "Best Educational Speaker of Section 43, Chapter 93" or some random organizational structure. The former reads much better on a professional resume. Since members don't pay anything, we're not obsessed with membership growth, and we don't put pressure on clubs to be constantly recruiting (and to neglect existing members) or to push members to rush through the educational program. Our growth is strongly organic and we care for each club individually. We partner with existing organizations allowing them to work with us and offer all the benefits of Agora to their members while at the same time preserving their identity. We allow clubs to keep all the funds they collect and use them for their own operation. We enforce strict rules for financial transparency at all levels, to ensure that funds are properly used and expenses are cross-audited by everyone. We're legally registered as a Public Interest Foundation, which is the strictest form of charities within the EU. This means that we can provide much more effective formal backing for activities and club requirements. We don't censor members nor prohibit them from publicly criticizing the organization. Technological We provide a worldwide real-time chat platform for all our members that allow them to communicate without having to register on third-party sites or networks. We provide a worldwide forum system with workgroups where we collaboratively develop - with feedback - all our rulebooks and educational materials and activities. Our educational materials are hosted on a Wiki to which anyone can contribute, extend, and translate. All our servers and infrastructure are in the European Union (in Germany, specifically), which means that your data is protected by the strictest privacy standards (The EU GDPR). Many more to come.