|First Timers take the stage!|
District 25 Fall Conference – The Greatest Show on Earth was the theme and never having been to a Toastmaster conference before I really didn’t know what to expect. When I think of conferences I think of boring meetings, lousy food and a lot of unfriendly faces. But back in October, Cindy Hinckley, the Fall Conference Chairman, had guaranteed me that if I would come that I would have a great time. So I thought I’d give it a try; after all she was quite persistent in getting me to sign up and go. And after this weekend, I am proud to say I’m glad I did and I was not disappointed. My first Toastmaster Conference experience was Fabulous.
From the moment I arrived at the Conference everyone there was friendly and having a great time. The decorations were Circus themed and there were lots of balloons and the Hospitality Suite had lots of snacks, candy, drinks and other goodies to partake of between sessions. I don’t see how anyone could not help but smile with so much fun-filled excitement in the air. And being given the First Timer VIP treatment made me feel all that more special.
This is the only conference I’ve ever been to that actually goes out of the way to make first timers feel welcomed. I especially enjoyed the game they gave us to help us introduce ourselves to others and get signatures and stickers from different types of conference goers. It really made me step out of my shyness and meet a lot of people I had never known before. I even introduced myself to the International President and his wife, John and Rebecca Lau.
I enjoyed every Educational Session I attended; all of the speakers were well organized and had great presentations. My two favorite sessions were The Art of Storytelling by Robi Ley and Let’s Get Dramatic – Using Acting Techniques to Take Your Speech to the Center Ring by Don Harris. Robi used a country-western song by Randy Travis about Three Wooden Crosses to demonstrate how ballads are great illustrations of how to use short sentences that convey a lot of meaning to the listener. And Don Harris had members of the audience illustrate how emphasizing a different word in a sentence can give the sentence a different meaning depending on what word of the sentence was emphasized. Everyone including myself loved getting up in front of others and helping him with his demonstration. I hope they both will be at future conferences.
At the Saturday luncheon we were entertained by several Circus folks that made for a lively luncheon. I was proud to get the opportunity to stand up when my club’s name went across the screen as they announced Club Awards that had been earned so far this year. And I was amazed when they recognized a Toastmaster member that had been a member for 50 years. Wow, now that is quite an accomplishment. And John Lau even gave an award to a member of our district who had just completed her CC by giving her speech the night before. But the best thing about the luncheon for me was when they asked all the First Timers to come up on stage and have a group picture with International President John Lau. What an honor that was.
The Humorous Speech contest was the best speech contest I have seen so far. Each of the speakers had the crowd laughing with all their different stories. I’m glad that I was not a Judge because I’m not sure I could have picked just one person as the best. And what amazed me was that every contestant had been in Toastmasters for only 2 years or less. And even more amazing was the fact that the top three winners had each been in Toastmasters for less than one year. This goes to show that you don’t have to be a longtime Toastmaster to win a District contest.
My first Toastmaster Conference is a memory I will treasure. And I am really looking forward to attending more of them in the future. If you’ve never been to one I highly recommend registering for the upcoming Spring Conference as soon as it’s posted on the website. Who knows, we might see all the Area Governors wearing Spock ears in the spring as we “To Boldly Go” at the Spring Conference. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that by going to the Fall Conference I completed 1 requirement toward my D25 Education Star Award and 1 requirement toward my D25 Leadership Award. And I can’t wait to share my conference experience with my PDX RxOrators club at our next meeting.
PDX RxOrators Club #1587802
Fort Worth, TX