Over a dozen District 23 members attended the 2017 Convention in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Here are a few of the favorite memories from several of our members. (Pictured above – Front Row: David Gardner, Jenny Zappone, Jonathan Gardner; Back Row: Danni Andrew, Cliff Colvin, Natalie Waters;  Click here to see the full size featured photo.)

Below are the memories from:

Jenny Zappone

Jenny Zappone
District Director

Danni Andrew

Danni Andrew
Program Quality Director

Cliff Colvin

Cliff Colvin
Club Growth Director

Jonathan Gardner

Jonathan Gardner
District 23 International Speech Champion (2017)

Opening Ceremonies (click image for full size)

Jenny Zappone’s Memories

Toastmasters International has a Convention every year for all the members from around the world to gather. I knew this from afar, however it did not really mean anything until I attended my first convention. Then I became a Convention Junkie. This year’s site was Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

I walk away with my head spinning – totally exhausted and energized at the same time. The take-aways are too numerous to mention and would probably fill a Competent Communicator manual full of speeches. However here are three that stand out.

  1. Opening ceremonies is a sight to behold. There is a parade of flags with volunteers, usually District Directors, carrying flags that represent every country Toastmasters International has a presence in. This totals 142 countries currently. Sitting in an audience of a little over 1800 people, it occurred to me that this is where it begins. I realized that all of these 1800 people present and over 340,000 people around the world come together to share a common goal of helping each other and themselves improve. What a concept!
  2. The Annual Business meeting occurs every year. This is where your proxies come into place to vote on the International Directors and various proposals that drive the policies of our organization. I’ve never been one to like meetings. You know, the kind you vote at and follow Robert’s Rules of Order. However, this has opened my eyes to how well-run organizations stay well run. While you might not agree with every decision, it is gratifying to see your vote count. Especially when one of our own, Tracy Thomason was elected International Director for Region 3. I’m not sure if my scream was the loudest, but it was close.
  3. While the speech contests are an event not to be missed, I am always really impressed with the atmosphere. I have met so many friends from around the world and even next door. As you might suspect, we are never at a lack of words or speeches. Even the most introverted extroverts among us are talkative. I am always reminded of a really, really large family reunion without any of the fights. In all seriousness, it is always energizing to renew connections and create new ones in the week we are together.

Next year, we are off to Chicago, IL, right around August. Will we see you there?

Convention Center (click image for full size)

Danni Andrew’s Memories

There is a back patio on the second floor of the convention center in Vancouver and I like to think the architect was an introvert as I spent a great deal of time there. I love the convention but the introvert in me needs to steal some time away to recharge my proverbial batteries.

My favorite part is the pomp and circumstance of the flag parade during opening ceremonies or the elegance of the President’s ball. Perhaps next year I will actually wear the nice dress I bought to wear for it. We do the convention for the business meeting and the World Championship of Public Speaking as well. I was privileged to be asked to be a judge for round ten. Let me tell you about that round of judging, it was like no other contest I have been to. Ten amazing contestants from all over the world. I like to think the winner was in my group but I honestly cannot be certain as things happened so quickly. Such amazing talent from so many really good speakers.

The Accredited Speakers Program is very interesting to me and I sat listening to more amazing speakers do their best to impress more judges as their hopes and dreams were on the line. Each one presenting their program in such a way as to promote their speaking just as they would to any audience. Each one of them needed to wow the judges and get that coveted AS pin. Six of them moved forward that day. I would not want to be the one who did not. Accredited Speaking is a goal of mine and I watched with listening ears and a writing pen as I took notes. It was exciting to share in the culmination of their dream.

If you ever get the opportunity to go to the convention I hope you go. Meeting new people from all over the world and taking part in the business of this fabulous organization is a joy and a privilege. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve this district. I hope and I pray that I am a better leader simply by taking the time to attend the training offered and the meetings which the teams take a great deal of time to plan. What a lot of fun to be on that planning committee! Until next year when we all meet in Chicago, I will remember that little back veranda on the back of the convention center in Vancouver where I considered asking my friend to simply ship my dogs to me so I could stay. Ah, Vancouver is truly beautiful, but instead, I came home.


Region 3 District Leader Training (click image for full size)

Cliff Colvin’s Memories

Vancouver may be my new favorite place to visit because it is so beautiful, and has a wonderful energy about it. Having the added benefit of District Leader Training, and the International Convention just put it over the top. The lessons that I learned and the people that I met will forever stay with me.

My top 3 memories are:

#1 Building a stronger trio relationship – Spending more time with the other trio members in person, and brainstorming together how to make this a successful year was great. It built an energy between us that we can continue to grow and share with the rest of the district!

#2 Learning from other District Leaders – My biggest take away was that 20 members for a club is the minimum, not the goal. Hearing the success stories from other districts across the world and the cultural difference between this one mindset shift was phenomenal.

#3 Seeing how big and diverse this organization is – 142 countries had flags represented at this convention, and it was an awe-inspiring event. Sharing these memories with fellow district members, and meeting so many from around the world shows how valuable this organization is. 345,000 members all focused on making themselves and those around them better speakers and leaders.

Jonathan Gardner’s Memories

I like getting two things out of Toastmasters conferences: 1) new ideas I can use outside Toastmasters, and 2) a great time with other Toastmasters. Both were on display at the Toastmasters International Convention in Vancouver.

A knowledge dose came from David Dye, speaking on succeeding without selling out. Dye says we have to breath, go to the bathroom, and die. Everything else is a choice. Everyone at work has chosen to be there. Yes, if you choose not go to work, you get fired – but that is still your choice.

As for other Toastmasters, the International Convention reveals the “International” in “Toastmasters International.” When I went to register, I wound up in the line for people with registration “challenges.” I found myself talking to two other Toastmasters, one from Canada, the other from China. In the same line was a woman from Africa. In front of me, a Sri Lankan. And the Convention helps deepen relationships with Toastmasters you already know; I was able to reconnect – albeit briefly – with several Toastmasters from District 24, where I was in district leadership several years ago. And fellow District 23 Toastmasters were so encouraging, too. Don’t underestimate seeing someone you already know amongst the sea of potential new friends!

Two reasons to attend the Toastmasters International Convention: the ideas you find and the people you meet.

August 22-25. Chicago. Toastmasters International Convention 2018. Mark your calendars.