District 86 Fall Conference Report

Fellow Toastmasters:
I had the distinct pleasure of attending the District 86 Fall Conference in London last weekend.  As suspected, this conference was full of valuable workshops, inspirational speeches and good old-fashioned fun!

There were many highlights, one of which was witnessing Leo Gadhoury participate in the Humourous Contest.  To refresh your memory, Leo came to First Oakville to practice his humourous speech as winner of the Lakeshore Division Humourous Contest.  He visited a few other clubs as well to gather all feedback to improve his presentation prior to the District Contest.  Needless to say, he took all advice seriously.  The speech presented on Saturday was full of histrionics, excellent timing and improved text.  Leo was confident, utilizing the stage beautifully and immediately established rapport with the audience.  I could not help but smile as I acknowledged the growth and development of his speech right before my eyes!

You may be interested to know that the phrase for Table Topics was “But Santa, I Can Explain!!”  It was a challenging but excellent choice of topic!

The opening keynote speaker, Gregory C.N. Smith, ACS, ALB  offered a very simple and powerful message.  The title of his speech was ‘Specific Intent’.  The summary of his  message is: 1)decide what you want, 2)decide what you are willing to exchange for it, 3)set you mind to it and 4)go to work.  Gregory also has a book available from Toastmasters International entitled, “Life’s Loudest Secrets”.  I did purchase the  book and it  is worthwhile, but watching him live and in person made his message even more compelling.

One of the three workshops I attended was ‘Take the Fear Out of Impromptu Speaking’.  The presenter, Fraser Perry, DTM, offered a very animated presentation and explained the acronym that has assisted many of his fellow Toastmasters.  The acronym is: A STEALTH FOE.  Here are the words that represent the acronym:  Age, Sex(Gender based), Training, Education, Association or Affiliation, Literacy, Trauma, Health, Family, Obsession andEthnicity.  Mr. Perry suggested that by using this acronym, it is quick and easy to find a point of reference to the table topic assigned.  He also offered these ‘Never Do’ suggestions:  Don’t apologize, ramble, over invent or direct humour at a specific group in the audience.

The Communication & Leadership Award Recipients were Jane Roy and Glen Pearson.  They have been involved with the London and Area Food Bank for almost 25 years and are currently the Co-Executive Directors.  They have also travelled to Sudan several times to tackle the issues of famine and slavery bringing with them the news media to raise awareness of the horrors of slavery.  Jane and Roy remain tied to the area and continue to focus on building of schools, water projects and medical clinics in the area.  In Glen’s acceptance speech, he pleaded with the group of Toastmasters at the luncheon to take the effective and impactful usage of words and put them to work in the community.  Turn the words into action for the good of all.

Fellow Toastmasters, I hope that if you have not yet attended a conference this article entices you to do so!  Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.  The next conference is in May, 2012 at the Sheraton in Richmond Hill, Ontario. 

See you there!!

Best regards,

Linda Rossi
VP Education
First Oakville Toastmasters
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