Saturday the 26th of April dawned bright and sunny. The Areas had selected their best and they were gathering in Capel for the showdown…
Well, it wasn’t quite like that, but it was an awesome day. The morning started with two truly inspirational workshops, the first on Leadership by Past Division Governor Chris Howell. We were guided through topics such as what good leadership looks like and reflecting on our own practice and personalities as leaders. I was particularly inspired when I was encouraged to think about what Toastmasters would be like if anything were possible. I see Toastmasters International as the ‘go-to’ organisation for communication and leadership training. There’s simply no better way to learn and improve by regular practice and positive feedback.
The second workshop was lead by Immediate Past District Governor Freddie Daniells. We felt what it was like to finally reach the World Championship of Public Speaking – such excitement and trepidation! We viewed two winning speeches and Freddie helped us break them down into sections not dissimilar to a Hollywood movie. All great speeches have a protagonist, a problem, rising action, a mentor (Yoda!), and the path to resolution of the problem. Of course, you need to include the lesson as well! If you haven’t seen Freddie’s workshop, I strongly recommend you do so. Lots of people were inspired to grasp the mettle and go for the top in 2015. One participant said “Great day, and well organized! Glad I went as I’m inspired even more to raise the bar for my own speeches!” I’m looking forward to seeing a Division H member announced the winner in 2015.
But of course, the contests were what the day was all about. The International Speech Contest had five fantastic representatives with speeches about T.E.A., the choice between self-help books and marriage, the value of mentors and the growth that comes when you give it a go. Chris Boden of Maidenhead Speakers won with his speech, The Throw, although it was a close-run race! When I sent an email asking for opportunities for Chris to practice his speech I was gratified with the number of responses. It’s great to see the support the Division is giving Chris on his journey to the District Finals, thank you all.
The Evaluation Contest was excellent as well. Lucinda Gray from Lewisham Speakers delivered the target speech and she entertained with her experience of a job interview gone wrong and how Toastmasters helped her. Our evaluators were challenged and again the contest was very close, but in the end the winner was Sylvia Lobo of Toasted Sandwich. Sylvia had practical suggestions delivered with sincerity and encouragment and a good summary as well. Sadly, only four of our areas were represented at the contest. Gavin Meikle had a fall and couldn’t drive. We wish him a speedy recovery. Unfortunately none of the other placed contestants were available to take his place, so please, if you do participate in contests remember – even if you don’t win you might have the opportunity to compete anyway so do make yourself available.
Well done to both our representatives, we’ve selected talented Toastmasters who will do us proud as they stand with the best of the 12 other Divisions in the District. Next weekend I will be in Ireland, the last conference for District 71 in its current form. It’s bound to be a superb party!