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Our Community Matters.
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Meet the trainer: Richard Edge

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What courses and webinars do you teach for Our Community?

I'm fairly new to Our Community, but so far I've conducted training sessions or webinars on governance, grant writing, fundraising and strategic planning. Later this year, I'll be teaching the Diploma of Governance too. And I've been zipping around regional Victoria conducting governance sessions with local cemetery trusts.

You're also an actor. What do teaching and acting have in common?

Although I did train and work professionally as an actor, I have been a teacher and a trainer for the past 11 years. My acting background has helped me as a trainer; both are performances. There's a lot of crossover. Both bring the challenge of translating content into something that engages an audience, has an impact on them and stays with them. I've seen some truly great acting by teachers in a classroom or training room - but they don't get applause at the end. I guess that's the main difference.

If all the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players, why should we bother with further study?

To answer Shakespeare with Shakespeare: "A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool." There's always something new to learn.

What's your own involvement in the community sector?

I've dabbled in the commercial and public sectors. In terms of community, I was on the board of a professional theatre in New Zealand, where I grew up. I've taught in public secondary schools, I've sat on various committees and I've been involved in a lot of community arts events and groups over the years.

I'm in awe of the length of service and commitment to the community of many of the delegates in my training sessions.

Tell us about the last time you had stage- fright.

Other than those jaw-clenching "What's my first line?" moments just before I walked on to the stage on opening nights, I'm relieved to say I've never had stage fright. I'm always a little nervous before standing in front of a training session, but I think that's a good thing. To me, it shows I care about the outcome.

What's your teaching style? How many costume changes does it take?

I've always tried to keep my costume as casual as possible.

I think we should take what we do very seriously, but not take ourselves too seriously, and that's reflected in how I teach. I like to laugh, to enjoy what I'm doing, and to make sure everyone else feels the same way.

I also like to give very clear context and reasons for why we are doing the thing we are doing. People are more likely to retain information if they can see the reasons behind it and the practical application.

What's the most significant lesson you've learned outside the classroom recently?

People will tell you more if you give them time to volunteer information by listening in silence rather than prompting with questions.

If you could stage-whisper just one thing about community sector governance, what would it be?

"Remember why you are doing this."

Who would you cast to play you in a bio- pic? Why?

Gary Oldman, Ed Norton and Jake Gyllenhaal do very interesting things with the characters they play. But there are far more interesting people to make a film about than me. Perhaps an action figure though...

Anything else you'd like to tell us?

"This above all: to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any [one]."

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