A few weeks ago, I received an invitation to speak at an event called momondays Hamilton and I declined because the event charges admission.
In a break from my usual practice, I did decide to take a complimentary ticket to the December event to check it out.
Why? Curiosity in part, but also because I was interested to see what it entailed as the promoter, George MacPherson, is a new Hamiltonian trying to make something happen and I figured it wouldn't hurt to see what the event was all about.
I also feel that as a long-time Hamiltonian (yes, I was born here, but I don't like the term "native Hamiltonian" because it is exclusionary) with some influence, I should be open to supporting new events and ideas in the community.
Plus, there was little - if any - benefit to me for attending. If I were advising MacPherson, I wouldn't give me a ticket, I'm known for my straight writing and definitely not for puff pieces.
I attended, I enjoyed parts of the night, and my conclusion:
I like the concept, MacPherson will make it work, and it will become a great monthly event as it grows.
There are a few tweaks needed including, in my opinion, price, format, and variety in speakers.
What is momonday's?
It's a speaking event where non-professional speakers get in front of a crowd and tell a story. It's not toastmasters, it's not a training venue, and it's not amateur night at the local comedy club.
The current format is six to eight speakers over a couple of hours, once a month.
More on their website: http://www.momondays.com/hamilton/
Hamilton needs more Monday night events, there are a couple of regular events such as trivia night at Baltimore House, but if that's not your thing, your options are limited. For political nerds like me, there's the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board meetings. With them now on YouTube, I often catch them on replay.
The speakers at momonday's are not professional, for many, this is the largest audience they've ever addressed. This is an asset because these are speakers I wouldn't hear otherwise, it makes momonday's an unique offering.
Tailgate Charlies is a good venue for the event, right in the heart of the Downtown. I have to admit, I haven't been in Tailgate for years and can't remember ever being in the basement. It's the perfect venue for a casual speaking event.
MacPherson was commanding as host with a good mix of levity and timing in his role as host of the event. I personally enjoyed when he made jokes about his adjustment to Hamilton and our unique localisms.
I haven't met MacPherson previously and was reminded of the energy Dave Henley of PopUp Hamilton brought into town when he was new to Hamilton and operating a Dishcrawl franchise.
In sum, the positives:
- Monday night event;
- Speakers you won't hear elsewhere;
- Makes for a unique experience;
- Good venue in Tailgate Charlies; and
- Host George MacPherson manages the role well
What Needs Improvement
Keeping in mind this is a review and very subjective, here's what I think needs improvement. The event is in its early stages, which means its rough.
The speakers were on stage with no visual projection screen or other means of illustrating their stories. One must be a very very strong public speaker to captivate an audience without visuals. As none of the speakers are professionals (which is the key asset of the event), they needed visuals to assist their story telling. Visuals don't just help the audience, they help the speaker to follow their planned speaking path.
The event is in its early stages, meaning the speakers are people whom the host knows in his dnetworks, which does limit the variety. I'm not writing anything that will surprise the organizer when I state there needs to be more variety.
With six speakers, there were three too many for my personal taste. Could be that I enjoy downloading 42 minute podcasts and this bias me towards lengthier speakers. After the third speaker, I began to lose interest and I started finding commonality among the speakers.
The final speaker was great, because he told his story as a song using an acoustic guitar.
Three speakers with variety is the formula that will work for me.
The admission cost of $15 is above my threshold for a cover charge. Call me a stingy East Ender, but anything about $10 for cover - without any drinks or food included - is too much for my liking.
I admittedly don't know the economics of the event and I suspect that being early, the host is taking a loss on venue fees at this time. Looking into the audience, most people were connected to the speakers. Again, early days for the event. (I cannot emphasis this enough, cause my conclusion is weighted positive)
I suggest a cover fee of $10 moving forward, I can't help myself in drawing a comparison to the cost of a movie at Jackson Square.
The Conclusion: I'm Going Again
I like this concept and will personally support it by buying a ticket in either February or March.
MacPherson deserves credit for arriving in Hamilton and in true Hamiltonian spirit - getting to work on a project.
As the event matures the speaker variety will improve. Once I'm past my current phase of recovering and repairing The Public Record, and out of my current up-and-down moods, I'll accept the invitation to speak.
I'm going to support MacPherson's efforts. He reminds me of the early Hamiltonian Dave Hanley, and I can't think of a better compliment.