The 87th annual Toastmasters Convention was a great experience. I recommend that every Toastmaster attend one International Convention in their life time.

Hosting a conference of this size requires lot of planning and commitment. The Convention was attended by over 2,000 delegates from all over the world. There were 500 helping hands. I was very lucky to be part of the Helping Hands Team, which included over 10 people from District 86. I was also lucky to cover the events in the convention. I promoted the various events via Facebook posts in the group page. This year, more than 30 people attended the convention. We all wore our red and white on the inaugural day. We proudly supported our country and the District. The national anthem of the US was followed by the Srilankan anthem. The flag procession was an epic scene. It was indeed an awesome and beautiful sight.

Kristina Johnston, our District 86 Director, was recognized in the “Excellence in Program Quality for 2017-2018”. Outgoing International President Balaraj Arunasalam presented this award. There were 105 recipients this year. This was presented at the Hall of Fame Awards. Jocelyne Vezina Club Growth Director presented the new International President, Lark Doley with New Club charter papers.

Roger Caesar did our District 86 proud as one of 106 semifinalists around the world. Roger has represented our District for the third time. Dennis Bartel, Cindy Tate and the team back here organized great viewing event, partnering with the Brampton Library for Roger’s speech. Roger's family joined the party. There were over 60 people who saw this via live streaming. This was a District PRM initiative.

With a speech titled, 'Still Standing' Ramona J. Smith, a high school teacher from Houston, Texas, won the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking on Saturday, August 25th. For the first time in the Contest's history, female competitors swept the top three positions. Smith is only the fifth woman to capture the World Champion of Public Speaking title since the contest began in 1938. The second place was taken by Zifang Su D88, China and Third Place, Anita Fain Taylor D47, USA.
The finalists were:
Ramona J. Smith, D56
Zifang Su, D88
Anita Fain Taylor, D47
Wiwiek Najihah Binte Hairudin, D80
J. A. Gamache, D61
Kenny Ray Morgan, D6
Eric Feinendegen, D30
Al Frederick Lacorte, DF
Kwong Yue Yang, D89
Kevin Matthew Johnson, D37

Some of the other features in the Convention were:

  1. An amazing presentation by Keith Ferrazzi, 2018 Golden Gavel Recipient. Ferrazzi's extensive influence in encouraging individuals and organizations to build trusting, mutually beneficial relationships. As chairman and founder of ‘Ferrazzi Greenlight’, a research institute focusing on behavioral science and its effects on business, Ferrazzi works to determine how companies can eliminate behaviors that hinder progress and instead adopt those that foster growth. His research on relationships, along with decades of experience as an entrepreneur and chief marketing officer for multinational corporations, helped him develop his influential leadership techniques for “Leading Without Authority”. Ferrazzi says connection is the driving force behind all success both personal and professional.
  2. The other Convention presenters were: Pat Johnson, Steve Gilland, Sarah Khan, Johnny Campbell, Michelle Tillis-Lederman, Lars Sudman, Mohammed Murad and Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez.
  3. There was the 'Smedley Step Challenge' to promote the Smedley Foundation.
  4. There were networking lunches.
  5. The marketplace, and the candidates' corner was awesome:
    • We learned so much about leadership by just attending the candidates’ corner. 
    • We met the various Regional Advisors, International Presidents and our very own Canadian Second Vice President, Margaret Page. 
    • We have a new International Director now, thank you Vera Johnson for an awesome job! 
    • Carol Prahinski is the new International Director Region 6 who has joined the Board of Directors. 
    • Melissa McGavick joined Jeff Sobel as Region 6 Advisor.
  6. The hotel and the river tour were great, it was an awesome experience.

The next Toastmasters Convention is at headquarters, Denver, Colorado. Thereafter it will be in Paris so, hopefully after reading this, that you will plan your next convention.

Mallika Sothinathan  DTM
District 86, PRM

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Toastmasters International Values:  Respect • Integrity • Service • Excellence
Our Principles:  Lead By Example • Work / Play as a Team 

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