Watkins Esoteric Centre
Watkins esoteric centre is a venue that I used a lot during 2003 and 2004. Located two doors away from the famous esoteric book store in London's West end, it sold various new age items, i.e. crystals, audio material, wall hangings, jewelry and ornaments. Downstairs in basement there was a small but cosy public speaking space. The shape of the room was long and narrow but it had a great atmosphere. It's capacity was around 30 to 40 people. When I first started using the space in February of 2003, only 12 people came and of those, 3 walked out before the end of the talk. You can never please all of the people any of the time. However as I kept on using the place, the audience grew, so that after a point it was no longer a viable option to use the space anymore.
Over the space of a year or so I ended up using the venue for 9 different talks. It was a great chance for me to really get my material together and to gain so useful public speaking experience. Also, because the same people kept coming back to each talk as the audience was growing, this forced me to really put a lot of work into producing new material. This really accelerated my learning process as I put in the time and energy to master new topics. Having a regular space also allowed me to hone the things that I was saying and to think up better ways to say the same thing. The feedback provided by the audience both during and after the talk would prove invaluable in helping me to get my public speaking act together.
It was a really great place to hold presentations because booking the room also meant you were given the key to the shop so you could lock up for the night when everyone left. This meant that we could stay as long as we wanted for the same money. I have fond recollections of the socializing that would occur after the talk when a lot the people would stay behind and chat about mystical and spiritual things until the early hours of the morning. There was also a little kitchen so we could make ourselves snacks and refreshments. After one of the talks, a crowd stayed around until about 3am in the morning! The talk would have started at around 7pm, so the event lasted quite a while. Without any exaggeration for a whole 8 hours, continuously and without a break, I was either public speaking, answering questions or else engaged in conversation. I was totally exhausted afterwards but my voice held out, though I sounded really rough the next day. But I do have a lot of happy memories associated with the place.