I belong to a couple of Toastmasters clubs in Madrid and Toulouse. Within the organization, clubs are gathered in areas, areas in divisions and divisions in districts. My clubs are part of District 59 which during last weekend it held the spring conference.
District 59 comprises continental Europe. It is now composed of 190 clubs, having grown from 53 in 2001! (or ~14% compounded annual growth during the last decade) and over 5,300 members. At the event we were about 300 Toastmasters (just over 5% of the population), in which had been the largest District conference in the history of the district.
The weekend was great. I started on Friday by going for a sightseeing 10km run through Lisbon as we would not have any time out of the conference. Then, I together with another ~60 members attended a wonderful workshop by Darren LaCroix which I described in a previous post.
This was followed by which it’ll be my last DECM (or District Executive Committee Meeting, as Area Governor of H2) for a while. There it was decided that in the next District Conference there will be semi-finals to shorten the Saturday speech contest (the conference itself was moved to 25-27 November, in Basel, Switzerland). The District is performing well, now ranking #2 of ~80 districts in the World, though it won’t be recognised unless more CCs and ACs are achieved (Competent and Advance Communicator awards). Then the conference itself started.
This was a special event as Pat Johnson, Toastmasters international president, was also present. She gave two keynote speeches: one about the typical Toastmaster member (to discover there isn’t such in TM diversity) and another one on leadership (“It’s amazing how much you can get done if you don’t care about who gets the credit”, H. Truman), both very good presentations, full of insight and experiences.
One important thing to note is that this has been the first conference to be widely tweeted. I had attended other Toastmasters conferences in which only some members were tweeting the event, but in this one tweeting was openly encouraged by Jack Vincent, the moderator of the District account (@Toastmasters59), and proved to be a success. Check it out searching the hash tag #tm59 for everything related to the District or #tmlx11 for that particular conference related matters.
On Sunday morning there was a panel discussion about experiences of using the web in Toastmasters. I especially liked the information shared by Marina Lussich, from her club, Barcelona TM. They got to incorporate the use of the web into the Competent Leader manual by assigning roles as “blogger of the day”, etc, which are taken into account for the CL award. Great idea!
In that session it was also raised the possibility of getting sponsors to cover the costs for the streaming of the conference in the future (privacy issues of contestants should be taken into account). It could be interesting for Basel.
Finally, the most important part of the weekend: the contests. Again we had the chance of witnessing 2 fabulous contests. The Evaluation Contest results were:
- John Zimmer,
- Olivia Schofield,
- Dermot Greene.
The International Speech contest results were:
- Olivia Schofield, who will get to represent D59 at the International Convention in Las Vegas!
- Peter Zinn,
- Gerard Penalosa.
Congratulations to all contestants!
Once again: The organization of the event was superb: The venue, the rooms, the availability of free wi-fi, meals, soundtrack of the event, characterization of the conference chair as Henry the Navigator, performance of a university Tuna group, the Gala Dinner, the helpdesk, etc… Congratulations guys! After having been in 3 conferences organized by you, you rock and keep getting better!