Toastmasters from across the Washington Metropolitan Area converged in Arlington, Virginia, last weekend for their fall district conference. At the event, dozens of District 27 members networked, shared educational experiences, attended training sessions and competed in two speech contests.
Conference attendees celebrated their members’ achievements and the district’s work as pioneers in Pathways, the educational program that Toastmasters International began rolling out in Spring 2016. With members
from Idaho to India, Toastmasters International has, since 1924, endeavored to be known as the place “Where Leaders Are Made.”
According to District 27 attendees, District 27 achieved that goal during its November 10-11 event at the Hyatt Centric.
“The keynotes and workshops were content-rich, and I felt wealthy with knowledge,” said Carlos Velazquez, dean of the Toastmasters Leadership Institute, which provides training to Toastmasters club officers.
Division F Director Birgit Schwenzer agreed the conference provided Toastmasters like her with useful information. “I think it was a great conference, with something to learn for everyone, from the beginning Toastmaster to the experienced Toastmaster,” Schwenzer said.
Schwenzer and other Toastmasters also gave the “thumbs-up” to conference speakers for their presentations.
Presenter Katina Hunter, a two-time finalist in the World Championship of Public Speaking®, spoke to members three times during the conference. Hunter’s first presentation focused on “blocking,” that is to say, effective use of stage space during a speech. Her second presentation educated attendees on ways to provide powerful speech evaluations. In her third speech, Hunter gave advice on strategies to reach the finals of the World Championship of Public Speaking.
Other conference speakers included Arthuretta Martin, president of the National Capital Area Black-Storytelling Alliance, who used singing and other tools to provide members with tips and tricks for better storytelling.
Rajiv Khanna, a member of 5-Star Toastmasters, said he saw the conference as a one-time opportunity to boost his public speaking IQ and to listen to his fellow Toastmasters compete in Table Topics and Humorous Speech contests.
The Table Topics Contest tested participants’ skills in speaking extemporaneously about a topic without advance knowledge of the question they were asked.
Chip Bishop of Pathfinders Toastmasters took first place in the Table Topics Contest. Contest participants were asked where they’d like to travel, if they could go anywhere in the world. Bishop used his two-minute speech to tell the audience about his desire to visit the penguins in Antarctica.
Stephanie Naar took top prize in the Humorous Speech Contest. Naar, a member of T-S-A: Tackling Speaking Aggressively, encouraged new Toastmasters to compete in contests just like she did.
Naar, who joined Toastmasters this year, said participating in a speech contest is a “wonderful opportunity” to improve their ability to “do the impossible.”
“No one tells your story better than you,” Naar added.
The importance of storytelling in speeches was a strong theme during both days of the conference. To that end, District 27 launched a new club at the conference for Toastmasters who want to polish their storytelling skills. Toastmasters—both experienced and new—who wish to join the new storytelling club should contact District 27 Club Growth Director Robin Hylton.
Jay Krasnow (ACG/ALB) is the District 27 Public Relations Manager and a member of Challenger Toastmasters, which meets at Asahi Restaurant in Courthouse Plaza (2500 Clarendon Blvd., Suite G), Arlington, VA, at 7 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of the month.