Submitted by Linda Rossi, CTM
Last weekend I attended the District 86 Fall Conference in Niagara Falls, ON. I would like to share the highlights of the weekend, which began on Friday night with a mix and mingle reception followed by live entertainment.
The official opening ceremonies were bright and early Saturday morning with the Parade of Banners. I proudly ushered our First Oakville #2245 banner to the front of the room along with my fellow bearers and the banners were displayed for the rest of Conference up high against the walls for all to enjoy.
The opening keynote speaker was Peter James, DTM and the name of his presentation was entitled “Heart of Gold”. Peter began by having the audience clapping in unison to get everyone in an upbeat, enthusiastic mood. His speaking style was full of verve and commitment and his message was three-fold: recognize the value that you possess, then increase your value through more education and life experience, and finally, that you absolutely MUST share your knowledge and experience with others. I walked away reflecting how to apply each of those items in not only my Toastmasters career, but in my personal life outside of Toastmasters (the truth is that they blend into one sometimes, don’t they?).
The bulk of Saturday is devoted to workshops. There are 12 offered in total and here are summaries of the three I attended:
Workshop Session #1 – I Don’t Have Time! by Greg Lewis, ACB, CL
Yes, another time management workshop and to be honest with you, not my choice. I found myself in the front row because I was assigned to introduce the speaker (as an Activator). Greg’s presentation, however, was superb! His approach was to first prioritize the different parts of our life that require time; family, job, Toastmasters, errands, etc. Then build your agenda allocating your time accordingly. If family is #1, then block in the time commitments for family first, and continue down the list. Have a list of items that are not time sensitive so that you can fit them in whenever time allows. Some tips for managing: always block in time for the estimated duration of the appointment or task, not just the time of initiation, designate particular times of the day for reading emails, making outgoing calls, and only receive incoming calls if it is during a time that you have agreed to. This eliminates constantly being interrupted when trying to complete a project or task. Finally, he emphasized the importance of taking the time out each week to review and adjust the schedule as necessary. This workshop was definitely worth my time!
Workshop Session #2 – Brand”I”fication: Ready or not, you’re a Brand … by Molly McCoubrey, CC
This workshop was full of information about branding ~ from the history of branding to current popular branding. The workshop leader definitely knew her subject matter well since she is a marketing professional with Loblaws. Many of her examples, of course, revolved around the President’s Choice brand to illustrate the how branding has been used to expand customer base. Molly then turned to our ‘personal’ branding. This involves letting others know what is unique about us personally. It is the uniqueness that sets us apart from others and gives us the edge over competitors. The benefits are that if we represent ourselves well, other people and/or like-minded projects will come to the fore automatically. Interesting workshop, lots of reading recommendations on personal branding. If anyone would like a copy of the bibliography, I would be happy to forward it to you.
Workshop Session #3 – Create Winning Seminars by Jacques Brunet, ATMG, AL
Jacques Brunet has an excellent reputation at District 86 because of his extensive knowledge and his effective presentation style. He offered many different tips about creating winning seminars including; how to select a great title (always a great idea to start with a number, such as, Top 3 Ways to ….), best day of the week to do a seminar (always best to avoid a Monday or Friday), the best time for a Q&A period (just before your close so as to not distract from your final pitch), plus much, much, more. Even though I do not see myself needing this in the foreseeable future, I found it quite interesting. If you would like more information about Jacques or are interested in purchasing his educational material, please let me know.
The Communication & Leadership Award Recipient was Betty-Lou Souter. Betty Lou is the Chief Executive Officer, Community Care, St. Catharines & Thorold, and is responsible for the overall management of the agency which provides emergency food and clothing, medical and dental assistance and shelter to the less advantaged in the communities of St. Catharines & Thorold. In her most gracious acceptance speech, Betty-Lou inspired everyone present to find a way to make the community where you live a better place for all. Her selflessness was admirable, and once again I walked away wondering what I could do to help those around me.
It goes without saying that both the Humourous and Table Topics contests were highly anticipated and did not disappoint. It is amazing to see first hand the amount of talent we have in District 86.
The conference ended on Sunday with Keynote Speaker Jamey French, DTM, presenting Fly from Fear to Faith. Jamey told a very personal and inspirational story of a very traumatic time that he and his wife Molly endured ten years ago. It was the power of positive thinking, analytical and listening skills, plus the many other skills learned at Toastmasters that actually made the difference in dealing with their tragedy. I would be happy to share the details with you if interested. A perfect way to end the Toastmasters conference.
Next week, in Part 2, I will explain the many benefits you can gain by not only attending a Toastmasters conference, but also participating. There are countless ways to volunteer at the conference ~ from working the registration desk, to introducing the speakers, giving the invocation at one of the many meals, to serve as a judge or counter for the contest … more to come!
Finally, the next conference is at the Delta Meadowvale in Mississauga in April. Remember, you do not have to come to the whole conference. In fact, you can attend a contest alone, or just attend the Communication & Leadership Luncheon, etc.
I hope this has represented the conference in a way that makes it look worthwhile and appealing. I certainly feel attending the conference is for the good of all Toastmasters!