OK, after a hiatus of several days (during which I did not turn on a computer or watch TV – heaven!) I am back from the District 59 Toastmasters Conference. The venue was the Intercontinental Hotel in Düsseldorf, Germany. As usual, it was a great time.
So, how did I do? Second place in the International Speech Contest. As the contest featured the top speakers from 18 countries in Continental Europe, I am very happy with the result, even if it is tough coming so close to making it to the next round! There were about 300 people there and I do not think that I could have given a better performance on the day. I had my youngest daughter (and coach) Kristen with me, so it was all the more special to be able to perform with her in the audience. And, when you have people coming up to you afterwards and telling you how your speech affected them, that is a great feeling.
My congratulations to Peter Zinn of Utrecht, the Netherlands who took first place, Martin Brown of Munich, Germany who took third place and my six other co-finalists. It was a great competition and the competitors were all great people. I and others will be sending Peter some ideas and advice on how he can build on his success in the United States in August. All of District 59 must now get behind him and support him as he moves on.
Switzerland again did very well in the competition. I represented the International Geneva Toastmasters Club. My friend Lesley Stephenson from the Zuriberg Toastmasters took second place in the Speech Evaluation Contest and my friend Thomas Skipwith from the Rhetorik Club in Zürich took third place in the German Speech Evaluation Contest. Congratulations to them both; they were great.
Of course, the best part about the weekend was the people. This was my third District Conference and it was great to see other Toastmasters from around Europe who have now become good friends, especially the first place and third place winners in the Evaluation Contest, Mel Kelly (Munich Prostmasters) and Amy Hamilton (Stuttgart Toastmasters). It was also great to make new friends and to see some wonderful speeches and evaluations. You really do learn an awful lot during these weekends and I encourage Toastmasters who have not been to a District Conference to try to attend one in the future. They really do add a whole new dimension to the Toastmasters experience.
Contests are a great way to improve your public speaking skills no matter which level you reach. My friend and international leadership expert, Robin Sharma, recently posted the following on Twitter: “Ambition is not a dirty word. Authentic ambition is nothing more than you reaching for your very best. And that’s such a profound move.” That’s what contests force you to do – to reach for your very best.
As for the future? Well, the competitions seem to get tougher with each round as veteran competitors get better and new, talented ones emerge, but once bitten by the bug, it is hard (for me at least) to sit still when the contest season comes around. So, to end with a quote from someone whom most of you know, “I’ll be back!” In the meantime, my performance in Düsseldorf can be seen below.