Keep Growing!

Opening Ceremony with flags from represented countries.

I’ve always heard that Toastmasters is a huge International organization but I never realized how powerful the International presence was until I went to the International convention. I got to meet people from all over the world who were all united by their love for Toastmasters. 

One thing that I thought was unique about an International Toastmasters Convention was how friendly everyone was. I’ve been to many other conventions in the past, but being at a convention with 3,000 fellow toastmasters, no one is ever lost for words. Elevator rides were never quiet but instead filled with people trying to introduce themselves before arriving at their destination. I loved hearing people’s stories and experiences from Toastmasters. I met one lady who was 82 years old and she told me that she joined in 1973, which was the first year women were able to join. 

The educational seminars at the convention were phenomenal. I found myself taking multiple pages of notes in each of the sessions I attended.  I loved Darren Lacroix’s session. After hearing him speak in person, it was quite easy to see why he won the 2001 International championship. His session was filled with numerous tips on putting together a keynote speech as well as how to add humor to any presentation. 

I loved the camaraderie that all the Toastmasters shared at the convention. At my club, one of the things we celebrate is growth in each of our members. From celebrating someone’s ice breaker to celebrating someone finishing up their CC, we love seeing personal growth in our members. I found this same excitement for growth at the convention. Many of the people were excited to learn that it was my first time to attend the convention. When people learned that I was a contestant they were also excited for the opportunity I had to grow as a speaker.

 I was also impressed with how approachable and supportive the past International champions were at the convention. Many of them shared their story with me. The main theme I got from the past winners was to keep growing. One of the past champions even told me that speaking is a muscle and we must exercise it every day. 

I would recommend that each Toastmaster attend an International convention at least once in their lifetime. The experience will greatly enhance their love and appreciation for Toastmasters International. 

DJ Swinyar
Mansfield Sunrise Toastmasters