Coaches Corner


The Kick-off

It was HOT! Really, it was hot in Palm Desert, California, at the 79th annual Toastmasters International Convention. Both the temperatures and the energy soared as Toastmasters from all over the world poured into the hotel to register. The news reported temperatures in excess of 110 degrees and hundreds of delegates and guests boiled over with enthusiasm to renew old friendships and establish new ones.

District 26 was well represented at the conference with over 15 people in attendance. This was the first time that we met our fellow members from Region I. Previously we were part of Region III which was made up of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, part of Oklahoma, and District 26. Now we are part of a region that stretches from Alaska to Nebraska and Colorado to California. Here are the Julia chronicles.

Tuesday 7:00 AM: Training started early as we poured into the classrooms to be instructed on the new policies and procedures that Toastmasters International was initiating as well as basic training for those that had never been to this level of training. It was a long day, but well worth the information I learned and the relationships I forged with our new Region I partners and the rest of the world. I spent my time between and after class meeting dignitaries, candidates, world champion speakers, and just plain Toastmasters.

Wednesday 7:00 AM: Training continued through most of the day. The evening started with an impressive flag ceremony where each country that has a Toastmasters presence paraded their flags about the huge auditorium. It was a stirring sight as the United States flag, last in the parade, was brought up on stage. They were supposed to play the star spangled banner, but a technical glitch prevented the music from playing. After a brief moment of silence, someone in the audience started singing the national anthem and the entire audience joined in to make it a memorable and stirring moment for me. Outgoing International President, Gary Schmidt, gave the state of the organization report followed by the keynote address expertly delivered by Todd Newton. Afterwards I got to hobnob with the candidates running for various international offices at the candidate’s reception.

Thursday 9:00 AM: Hall of Fame presentations were conducted for everyone that achieved a distinction last year. It was phenomenal, the number of people, clubs, areas, divisions, and districts recognized for achievement. Although District 26 did not make distinguished, I was recognized for the educational successes that we posted last year. I view this award as a team effort and I share it with each and every one of you that worked hard to accomplish your personal goals – way to go team! The educational sessions sponsored were extraordinary. Our own Rory Vaden was an instructor (“Great Leaders are Great Speakers: Bringing your leadership A.L.I.V.E.”). By three o'clock I was re-energized as the International Speech semi-finals started. Nine sessions of nine districts competing for the coveted opportunity to be a contestant in the World Champion of Speaking contest. Our winner, Ian Humphrey, participated and won his semi-final competition (in fact I overheard some people say he nailed it). I judged the last contest at 8:30 PM. All I can say is I am really glad I did not have to compete against any of them, they were all dynamite.

Friday featured more sterling educational sessions, too difficult to choose which one would benefit me the most; I wanted to go to them all. The Golden Gavel dinner started right on time at 7:00 PM and the recipient was Carolyn Kepcher, executive vice president of the Trump organization (you might remember her from the television show “The Apprentice”; she was the one that fired the people who did not succeed.). Now she dispenses career advice in a column of the New York Daily News, is a published author with her best seller “Carolyn 101” and her latest business endeavor “”.

On the last day, Saturday, the famous (and infamous) business meeting started at 7:00 AM (I promise not to do that you at the District Conference). We elected new Regional Advisors and new slate of top officials including a new International President. The International Speech Contest (aka the World Championship of Speaking) started just after lunch and it was a thrill ride for me, watching the ten most talented speakers in the world compete for the number one position. Unfortunately, Ian Humphrey did not win, but he could have, and he did this District proud. If you have never heard him speak, you should invite him to come to your club and wow you with his charm and sophistication. He is still ranked one of the Top Nine Speakers in the World by overflowing

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