There is something powerful that happens when you bring together a group of Toastmasters. You see it at the club level all the time, people coming together to help support each other to become better leaders and communicators. But life at Toastmasters does not stop at the Club, in fact, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
This November, I attended my first District 42 Conference and left feeling connected, inspired and energized by the amazing people I met over the course of the weekend.
Conferences are incredible place to meet a lot of different people who share a passion for Toastmasters. There are numerous opportunities to meet people – at meal times, in the hallways, in the Hospitality suites, even in the line up for the washroom (at least the ladies one!). By virtue of being Toastmasters, everyone is warm and welcoming and eager to talk.
Just like at the club level, you get back what you put into the conference experience. I signed up not only to attend but also to help the conference committee as Volunteer Coordinator. It was a great way to “be in the know” and meet people in advance of the conference. It was nice to walk up to someone who I exchanged an email or phone call with and say hello. The great thing about Toastmasters is that everybody is eager to help that made my role so much easier.
Two of the conference highlights for me were the Table Topics and Humorous speech contests. Every single person who took that stage progressed from their club, to their Area, to their Division. The caliber of these speakers was phenomenal. Listening to each of them, I gleaned insights on how to make my speeches better and the inspiration to just “go for it”.
It was difficult choosing which educational session to attend but I’m glad I landed in Dune Nguyen’s session about negotiating. I took away a process that I know will benefit me on the job as well as in a variety of volunteer roles and personal situations.
The most powerful moments of a truly incredible weekend involved my fellow club members. My mentor, Dorothy Wilson, achieved the Distinguished Toastmasters designation and she literally LEAPED onto the stage to accept the award! It was a very exciting to see her hard work recognized with the absolute highest of Toastmaster honors.
At the final Sunday brunch, Lorraine Wheatley, District Public Relations Officer (PRO), shared some of the work and vision she is implanting this year. In particular, Lorraine shared some of the changes taking place on the District 42 Website, which she has taken on as her High Performance Leadership (HPL) project. As a member of her HPL guidance committee, I am only too aware of how much work has gone into this project thus far. I was very proud of her and to be a member of her support team.
Lastly, several members of my club showed up to help host the Hospitality Suites on Saturday night. Thanks for being there until the wee hours to help out – you guys rock!
That’s just a little taste of my “first timer” District 42 Fall Conference experience. I’m so glad I attended. And if you haven’t been to a District 42 Conference before - just go. You’ll be glad you did.
By Katrina Regan-Ingram, ACS, ALS
President, Power Speakers, Club 3650