Agora News

Membership Registration and login system deployed

agora Sunday February 14, 2021

Membership Registration System


We've finally deployed the membership registration system, integrated with the wiki and with our old Single-Sign On system, which has been redeployed. This is a major milestone that was standing in the way of many enhancements that we can now start deploying:


  • The Advanced Educational Paths (finally!)
  • A Club Online Management System
  • A Membership Directory
  • A Membership-wide newsletter

The system will also allow us to gradually decrease our dependence on Facebook, as many people are reluctant to use the platform for privacy reasons.


Please note that we will be switching some portions of the wiki to be available only to registered members, so make sure you register as soon as possible to avoid losing continuity. Of course, membership in Agora is and will continue to be free.


You can log in or create your account straight from the "Member Log In" button at the top of the wiki:

Member Login  

If you already had an account in the old SSO, it is still there, so you don't need to create it again.


The real-time chat functionality system is up again ( https://chat.agoraspeakers.org )

Chat System  


If you face any problems, please send us a message to info at agoraspeakers.org with a detailed description of what's happening, and a screenshot of the error.


Indonesian Language Added


Also, we're happy to announce that we're adding Indonesian support to the wiki. Thanks a lot to Netty Kalalo for volunteering to translate the core terminology and all the projects of the Basic Educational Path. We will slowly gradually incorporate the translation on the web.

Indonesian Support  


Introducing a new tool in our learning system - Path Journals

agora Thursday January 28, 2021

Path Journal   Reflective journals have proven to be an extremely successful learning and self-improvement tool well more than a century. Used by top universities around the world, this tool is backed by a ton of research about the benefits they provide.




Specifically, in the field of education, reflective journals provide:

  • Faster and more focused learning
  • improved self-esteem through objective self-assessment
  • Improved critical thinking
  • Improved creative and reflective thinking
  • Less fear of expressing opinions freely in other contexts
  • Improved comprehension of the material and understanding of new topics
  • Better management of stress and anxiety

It was then only a matter of time till we integrated this technique into our Educational Program. And here it is - Path Journals. You can read all about them in the linked wiki entry.

The Agora Educational Program and Harvard University

agora Saturday January 23, 2021


I recently went through Harvard University's "Advanced Public Speaking and Professional Presenting - SPCH E-120" course, taught by Jill A.Slye. This semester-long course is the most advanced that Harvard has to offer in terms of generic public speaking, and is also part of several Graduate Degrees and Extension Certificates.

There were two main goals that I wanted to achieve:



  • I was curious to see what methods, techniques, or activities are used during this course, and see if I could pick any interesting ideas that can be added to our educational program and shared with members. The course costs a whopping $2990, which is prohibitive for most members, so any ideas, methodologies, or approaches that could be incorporated would be welcome.
  • Personally, I wanted to have an external, unbiased assessment of my own speaking style and approach. All too often, when you're in an organization (especially if you have a leadership role) you tend to accumulate "cultural baggage" from that environment and begin to speak in a particular way that instantly identifies you as a member. This is something that is very characteristic of other public speaking organizations, and is something that we in Agora try to fight very hard: We encourage you to develop your own style, we have a mandatory speech analysis part for every project of the Basic Educational path so that you can be exposed to other speaking styles, we have a VP of Community Leadership officer whose only mission is to find members speaking and leadership opportunities outside of the club environment, etc.  Still, it never hurts to perform a reality check with a completely new audience, and one that is not particularly impressed with credentials.

Do you want to know what happened?

Well, guess what... Our educational program includes everything that Harvard University does, and then some.   Harvard does speech analysis - we do speech analysis. Harvard does special exercises on sensory words in speeches, we do sensory words activities. Harvard does presentation speeches, we do presentation speeches. They do peer-evaluations, and we're all about peer evaluations. And of course all the regular activities like using vocal variety, emotion, anecdotes, persuasion in speeches. Here are some portions of the assignments, do they ring a bell?

Assignment 00  

Assignment 01  

And here's an example of the grading criteria:

Assignment 02  

Although the Harvard faculty was certainly great, almost the entirety of the course is based on peer comments and peer evaluations. In fact, you get to speak and get faculty feedback only four times throughout the semester. Classes were held using regular zoom sessions - nothing spectacular here either.

What about the cultural baggage?

I have good news here as well. The speaking approach that I used was very liked and considered very professional. I had the opportunity to give lots of peer feedback and offer advice to others on how to improve their speeches, and the advice was well received, incorporated, and later praised by the faculty.   Again, this provides a great external validation that we don't accumulate or teach a specific distinctive style, that the system works, and that the end result is considered top-notch in an external highly professional environment.

The moral of the story

Considering that our educational program and activities were developed independently and from scratch, this experience provided a fantastic external validation of our system. Except for the Harvard professors, in Agora, you experience, study and learn using the exact same methodology, approach, activities, and exercises as the #1 university in the world. Except, that you do it for free.

Of course, Agora certificates don't carry the weight of the Harvard  University logo ...yet laugh, but we'll get there.

(Needless to say, Agora Speakers is an independent Foundation that is not endorsed by, nor affiliated, nor in any way associated with Harvard University)

Videos now directly accessible from the wiki

agora Tuesday January 19, 2021

As you're probably aware, Fred Jones has been creating a series of great videos explaining the different roles and sections. Till now, these videos were available only on our youtube channel. Now you can also access them straight from the wiki page of the corresponding role or activity.  (Not all the activities or roles have an associated video, so the link will only appear if there is one).

The videos are in English, so if you want to volunteer for recording a similar video in your own language, drop us a note.

Videos 2  

Videos 1  


Wiki changes and new languages

agora Monday January 18, 2021

New Home Page And Menu Structure

We have a new landing (home) page that should be much easier to navigate, with each role (New Member, Regular Member, Club Officer, etc.) having the most important and commonly used pages immediately available.

Home Page  

However, if you were particularly fond of the old index page, you can still find it here : https://wiki.agoraspeakers.org/About+Agora+Speakers



10 New Languages

After a lot of work, we've completed the Phase 1 of our localization effort - this includes all texts that participate in programmatically-generated parts of the wiki : evaluation cards, menus, project and role general information, etc. We've rolled out a whopping 10 languages:

  • Spanish
  • Czech (special thanks to Radek Bartman and his team for the translation)
  • German (special thanks to Monika Graeter and her team for the translation)
  • Brazilian Portuguese (special thanks to André Lins for the translations)
  • Romanian ( special thanks to Gabriela Lasau for the review work)
  • Nepali (special thanks to Ravi Bhattarai for the review work)
  • French  (special thanks to Hélène Kemmere for the review work)
  • Ukranian
  • Russian
  • Bulgarian



The translations won't be perfect, but it's a start. If you see anything that needs to be corrected, drop us a note at info at agoraspeakers.org.

If you're interested in helping with the translation effort - either in any of the above languages or in a new language altogether - drop us a note as well.


No Fees for Corporate and Restricted Clubs in 2021

The Agora Speakers International Foundation - thanks to its very frugal infrastructure and spending - is lucky that its financing needs are fully covered, so we can keep focusing on outreach, growth, and bringing more value to members.

To additionally help in that mission, and recognizing the difficult financial situation of many businesses due to the COVID pandemic, all fees for Corporate and Restricted clubs are waived for 2021.  This includes setup fees, so if you want to start a Corporate or Restricted club, in 2021 you can do it totally for free.


Registration Coming Soon

Member registration will be enabled soon, and membership will be required to access many parts of the wiki. This will allow us to start deploying other parts of the system such as online management of clubs, advanced educational paths, etc. that will be available to registered members only. Note that this does not imply any costs of any kind - membership in the Agora Speakrs International Foundation is and will continue to be free.


Evaluation forms in PDF format

agora Monday December 14, 2020

For online meetings, now you can generate the evaluation forms in PDF format. A fully-customized PDF form will be generated (complete with your club logo and details), and you can fill it completely online. We're working on adding HTML-form support as well, so you won't even need an external application.

This is implemented by selecting the "PDF" output format when generating the evaluation form (either from the page of the specific role or from the educational project)

Pdf Format  

Here's how the generated PDF form looks like - complete with your club logo and details.  As always, if you need to change the details of your club, send us a note at info at agoraspeakers.org

Pdf Evaluation  

In the meantime, we're working relentlessly to enable our online management system.