Sharing the Experience ~ District 86 Spring Conference ~ A member’s view point.

Submitted by Toastmaster Donald Knowles

Toastmaster Donald Knowles

What an amazing time!!!

I am more than a little shell shocked, more like shock and awe, at hearing Mark Hunter speak. Matt has always said that public speaking was a performing art. Well, I just watched a Tony award winning performance. Or, more correctly, a TM world championship winning performance. It is probably going to take me the rest of the summer to synthesise and assimilate what I saw and heard. Mark Hunter is the 2009 TM World Champion speaker from Australia and he spoke twice.

The first time was at the Friday night First Timers session. This is a session put on by District for the people who are attending their first conference. It is a staged mix and mingle session to ease people into the process. Mark gave about 10 minutes of welcoming to the Newbies. 10 words into his welcome it became abundantly clear that this man was good; very, very, good. From a SCD (structure, content, delivery) point of view that 10 minutes was worth the price of admission.

The second time that Mark spoke was at the Sunday Brunch. He discussed in significant detail his first speech, Face to Face, Eye to Eye, Heart to Heart. He then gave the speech, followed up by more discourse and 15 minutes of Q & A. Mark then discussed more thoughts on speech making, including quotes and references, and delved into his championship speech A Sink Full of Green Tomatoes. This is where the shock and awe sets in. I have heard a few speeches in the last 3 years but nothing even close to this. Reduced to 1 word, that 1 word would be exquisite. On to other things.

After the First Timers session there was a Magic Show by the Great Gerard, a Toastmaster, which was very good. After that came a hypnotist. This person, Paul Anthony, ran way too long, about 45 minutes over. Paul was very good at what he could do, but his Don Rickles sarcastic approach did not work for me. He stopped being amusing as he took control over people’s subconscious selves and repeatedly turned them into mindless performers to the mirth of the assembled masses. I left early. I am told by people who stayed how late he went.

Saturday was much better with; the Banner Parade, Opening ceremonies, Workshops, luncheon with various award presentations, the International Speech Contest, the Business Session and then the Governor’s Ball. It was a busy day.

The workshops were informative, the awards luncheon was tastefully done, and the speech contest was very, very good. Gregory C.N. Smith won, Frederique Herel was second, and Annette Lavigne was third.  In the business session Meri McCartney was elected DG, Avis Brodie was elected LG Education and Training, Janice MacDonald was elected LG Marketing, Katie Chida was elected Public Relations Officers, Paul Lynott won Gvr for Divison A, Liv Cools-Lartique B, Myrna Bartha C, Suzette Leeming M, Ian Horne N, Fraser Parry S, Melanie Jessup W, and Justin O’Donnell L. All spellings are approximate. Chris Czerwinski, the AG from Area 52, didn’t have a chance for Divison Governor for L. He didn’t do much promoting and did not even have a picture on the web site. Justin, on the other hand, was constantly promoting and worked very hard for his win. The last item of the day, the Governor’s Ball was another very well run dinner meeting.

Sunday dawned blearily early with a workshop, the Evaluation Contest, and the Sunday Brunch with the grand finale of the Keynote Speaker. The competition was won by Harry Ansara with a flawless evaluation befitting a DTM. Second Place was by Katherine McLean and Julie Boyer of Trafalgar placing third. A remarkable performance by Julie who has only been a Toastmaster for about 7 months.

Thoughts. A highly commendable project carried out extremely well. To be sure there were assorted professionals sprinkled in the soup mix but it was all done by volunteers. Very impressive indeed. The food was good, the hotel was well situated for me, the presentations useful, the speeches well done, the key note was awesome.

Overall, a very good example of Toastmasters. I have no idea if this was the norm or an exception as this was my first Conference. That being said, I am looking forward to the next one in November, if not for the fun then for comparative purposes.


Note: Details have been corrected.


3 responses to “Sharing the Experience ~ District 86 Spring Conference ~ A member’s view point.

  1. Hi Donald – A great synopsis, although hard to capture the energy, isn’t it!

    You forgot to mention the absolutely fantastically friendly people at Hospitality and Registration.

    For me, other highlights were the C&L luncheon (which you mentioned but didn’t explain). I thought Surita Dey was a very worthy recipient, and very well spoken.

    Blowing my own horn a bit, I also think the opportunity for people around the District to get involved through leading of the National anthems, invocations and toasts is a wonderful experience.

    One note – from a 4-time attendee to a first-time. Did you feel that you needed Monday off? To rest and to process all of the information. I have learned that I need that extra day – although I didn’t get all of the processing done that I would have liked, I’ve at least itemized some plans. (I was too busy catching up on my sleep!) The next few weeks will be figuring out implementation strategies.

    Thanks for the summary. Great to see from a first-timer’s perspective.

    – Dawna Bate, ALB
    Talk of the Town (Kitchener)
    TopDrawer Advanced (Cambridge)

  2. Hi Donald, I agree…it was a wonderful time, and as a fellow first-timer I too have been blogging about it…it’s great to see a different perspective.

    Just to correct you on a couple items…the speech competition winners you mentioned are not entirely correct. Yes, Gregory took 1st, but it was Frederique Herei who took 2nd, and Annette Lavigne who took 3rd place.

    Take care!


  3. Shock and awe is an excellent description. I’m glad the conferences still deliver. I was always so impressed also. It amazed me why more toastmasters didn’t choose to experience this. It’s first class, entertainment, education and camaraderie.
    Thanks for the overview.