Thursday, May 18, 2017

2017 District 69 convention and speech contests - Chinchilla, QLD. Report by Ursula Beatty

Round 4 of the TM speech contests took place at the 2017 District 69 conference, held at Chinchilla, Queensland on the labour day long weekend. (Apr 29th to May 1st )

I had never been to Chinchilla or a district conference before, so this was  a whole new experience for me!   Julie Anne and  I travelled by car on the Saturday. A leisurely road trip of  over 5  hours, along the Warrigo highway, through  Toowoomba, and numerous other towns I had only  heard of, but not yet visited.  

In our absence, the conference took place all day Saturday at the Chinchilla cultural centre – a full day of inspirational keynote speeches, workshops and the evaluation speech contest.

Alison Cleaver, did the southern Division proud, by taking home a medal for first place. Congratulations and well Done Allison, who in my opinion, is an excellent speech evaluator and speaker.

Place getters in the Evaluation Contest: Alison Cleaver (Centre)  - 1st place

We  arrived at the Chinchilla RSL, in time for the International Speech contest, followed by the semi-formal Gala dinner.  

Getting to the outback town of Chinchilla may well have been a deterrent for many toastmasters in D69, especially if coming from further afield such as Darwin or PNG Divisions.

It didn’t matter though, as the large function room of the RSL was filled with plenty of  enthusiastic, well ‘scrubbed up’ Toastmasters and  guests from around District 69.

Billy Jazz, Teresa Brake (Southern Division Director), Sarafina Zubovic, Julie Anne Cantwell , Alma San Antonio (from PNG) and ?

     Julie Anne Cantwell and Sarafina Zubovic

Ursula Beatty, Julie Anne Cantwell, Christine Lennon & Sarafina Zubovic

One of the things I liked about attending this conference was networking with toastmasters from other clubs in the district.  In particularly, I  enjoyed meeting two  members of the Entrepreneurs Capricorn club in Rockhampton.  I was impressed hearing about their vibrant and popular club, plus their marketing /PR strategies. I also enjoyed meeting Alma from the PNG division.

We know that as speakers, things don't always go to plan, and that includes speech contests. We have to learn to stay calm, adapt and improvise....

Picture this: You are the 2nd contestant in the International contest, all psyched up and ready to get on the stage to give your prepared 5 to 7 min speech.
Then …. at 6pm sharp , the PA system kicks in automatically– filling the room  with the beautiful sounds of the bugle and the “League Ode” as happens every night apparently, at that time in most RSL's.
You then join the rest of the audience, standing up in respect to this traditional tribute to commerate "the fallen" RSL soldiers.
If your nerves weren't frayed by that.. Then you get up for a  2nd and 3rd attempt.  Starting your speech from the beginning each time, and stopping when the  microphone and sound system refuses to co-operate.

Finally, the decision is made to ditch the microphone altogether, asking all of the 13 judges to sit closer to the front to ensure the speakers could be heard clearly – which they were.

So, I  was impressed too with the way contestants and district officials dealt with these microphone/sound system 'problems' in a calm and professional way.

Just as well this 2nd contestant, Marilyn Freeman , a well seasoned TM and speaker  wasn’t too phased by the disruptions. She went on to win the competition. 
Well done Marilyn, who will be the district 69 representative at the TM International Conference and world championship of public speaking contest in Vancouver, Canada, in august this year.

International Contest : Mahongo Fumbelo - 3rd place, Marilyn Freeman - 1st Place
and Billy Jazz -  (from Southern Division) 2nd Place.

Dinner was very welcome after the contest , followed by dancing to the very lively, one man band who sang and played songs that gave most people’s dancing shoes  a good workout. Isn’t that right Julie Anne? It was good fun too.

Teresa Brake, Julie Anne Cantwell, Christine Lennon and Sarafina Zubovic enjoying the Gala Dinner on Saturday evening at the Chinchilla RSL


The following day – Sunday, An early start at the Chinchilla cultural centre.
Five  different educational workshops were on offer. I attended Carolyn Shaw's very interesting and worthwhile workshop:  ‘Are you a Multiplier or a Diminisher?'
Based on the work of  Wiseman  & McKeon, showing how to play to others intelligence, using more empowering and effective relating styles. 

The Table Topics and  humorous contests were held later that same day. Julie Anne Cantwell represented  Southern Division in the Humorous contest and although she didn’t get placed, she did a great job and of course did our club and division proud. Well Done Julie Anne! A Terrific achievement reaching District level in only 1 year of your TM membership.

Some of the attendees at Sunday's Speech contests.

Humorous Contestants (above): Linda Blackstock, Patrick Byrnes, Cathy McGilabray, Matthew Savage, Neil Kleine, Julie Anne Cantwell and Mona Giheno.

Left: Mona Giheno - 3rd place, Patrick Byrnes - 1st Place, Cathy McGilabray - 2nd Place.

Teresa Brake (Southern Division Director) and Sarafina Zubovic (VPE, Helensvale Daybreak TM ) enjoying the conference and speech contests.
The Mystery Tour.
Late Sunday afternoon, we piled into 3 busses and were taken on a  guided 'mystery tour'. Out into the Chinchilla countryside, our guide showed us the local coal seam gas (CSG) extraction site and then, as the sun was setting, we arrived at the Condabilla Fish farm, for a guided tour, followed by a BBQ  dinner.

Although I am not a huge fan of either CSG or fish farms. I did have a fun and enjoyable evening with good company.

An impressive sunset thanks to the  beautiful clear and cool autumn evening, plus the very flat terrain of this part of  Queensland.
later that evening,  It was fabulous to  witness  the stunning star filled sky with the half moon, making this  mystery tour in the  Chinchilla countryside, all the more worthwhile!

Another D69 conference  "in the bag".

Although I did not attend the full conference, it was overall a  positive and different experience. I was glad I made the trip and enjoyed the company of my fellow club and district members.

I take my hat off to all the contestants (especially to Julie Anne) and to the organisers of this huge event. Very well done.

Perhaps, I may see some of you at next year’s District 69 Conference at Ipswich -  whether as a speech contestant, an official or a regular attendee.

Links to blogs on previous rounds of the speech contests:
Round 3: Southern Division conference and speech contests March 2017

Round 2: Area 24 Conference and speech contests - Oct 2016

Round 1 : Helensvale Daybreak Club speech Contest - Sep 2016

What are your thoughts on D69 conference? how did it compare to other conferences you may have attended? do you feel inspired to attend next year ?  Please leave your comments below

Some extra photos:
Evaluation contestants

Table Topic Contestants

Table Topics winners with  contest Toastmaster Mark Snow

                       Julie Anne Cantwell (centre) and 2 of the other Humorous contestants

Some of the attendees at Sundays Conference and speech contests at the Cultural Centre

What is better than desert? more desert of course!
Ursula Beatty, Julie Anne Cantwell and Alma San Antonio at the Condabilla fish farm.

Teresa Brake, Sarafina Zubovic, Julie Anne Cantwell and Alma San Antonio.

Leadership, Possibilities, and Perfectionism- Meeting highlights for April - Report by Ursula Beatty

Leadership, Possibilities, and Perfectionism were 3 of the interesting , different  yet related themes for our meetings in April 2017.

  For Meeting #719, Christine chose Leadership as her theme.
Her intro question (for all attendees): “What leadership roles have you held or aspire to hold?”

The answers to this question gave a wonderful insight into each members leadership accomplishments to date.

Christine demonstrated her leadership skills at the beginning of the meeting, when her assertiveness was required to to keep the meeting on track.

 Interesting too, as Christine pointed out that being a leader of a voluntary organisation teaches you many skills. I certainly agree with this.

Attitude was my chosen  word of the day.
Tying the word in with the quote:  ” It’s your attitude and not your aptitude that determines your altitude.”

Nicole led the table topics with some interesting thought provoking questions such as this one:  Would you rather be the leader or the follower? ”  

Paul presented and facilitated a mini-workshop on relationships.
First, he gave  examples of important relationship  qualities. Then,  he asked each of us to write on a piece of paper, what we considered the 3 most important qualities.

Just like a raffle, a few people were selected to tell us in 60 seconds what words they chose and why. The different points of view from young and old , male and female members were fascinating to hear. This stimulated discussion and got the involvement of entire group, which I particularly liked.

Mark gave a very inspiring speech about ‘living your life’ ,  taking responsibility for pursuing your goals and achieving financial freedom etc, through following your inner compass/intuition.

My own role as Word of day and Grammarian.  Grammarian is a challenging role as you are required to listen to word and grammar usage of all participants throughout the meeting and report back at the end of the meeting.   It is a different listening skill to evaluating a speech, plus if like me, you do not claim to be an expert on English grammar, it can stretch you - in a good way.

All in all, the meeting was lively with a good vibe. Sadly though, it was Nicks last day in our club due to a change in his work and family commitments. He has been a wonderful asset to our club as a member and in his role as SAA. We wish him well in his future endeavours.
For Meeting # 720, Rivella chose Possibilities as her theme.
With the intro question: If it were possible, what would you do?”

Some interesting answers to this question. such as: ” If it were possible, I would travel by hovercraft. Then any damaged bridges (from the recent flooding in SE QLD) and congested traffic would not be a problem for me getting to TM in good time.”

Ian was the Table Topics master with some innovative Table topics.
Being a Non-native, ( I am Irish),  I was called on to do a table topic which to be honest, I didn’t think would be possible to answer:
Ian read out a list of many Aussie slang words and then gave me the list on a page.  My job was to use as many of the words as possible, in a one min table topic!  What sort of a Galah did he think I was?   To be able to use all these ‘non-queens English’ words in a story.  But, by Crikey I think I pulled it off, as I gave it a fair go,  much to my own and everyone else’s surprise and amusement!!
For Meeting # 721 Ursula Chose Perfectionism as her Theme.
Intro question “Perfectionism and your Toastmaster journey…”

The meeting was good fun even though we only had a small group.  Despite the meeting not going to plan  (2 scheduled speakers gave apologies),   everyone  adapted as.

Julie Anne stepped in with an interesting speech about ‘Mind over matter’. She took us through an exercise on how to bend her perfectly good kitchen soup spoons, using the power of the mind. Sarafina proved her theory correct,  and gave Uri Gellar a run for his money. She completely bent the soup spoon!!  There is a new career for you Sarafina. Well done.

I think Julie Anne was a bit surprised and aghast to see her ‘perfect’ spoons looking so  … well…  very  bent and imperfect.

Then somehow or other, the ‘round robin’ section took us in a very different direction. Thanks to Zach, there were some very amusing stories from members about their siblings behaving badly toward each other, resulting in broken bones and other  interesting/dreadful injuries and scars. Of course, we know,  they were not funny at the time for the poor ‘victims’ and to the parents of these ‘imperfect children’’ playing badly.   

All in all 3 different but highly entertaining and/or interesting meetings. Do you have any other interesting stories or highlights to share from these meetings?

Leave your comment below.