By Sushma Kanugo, EC4
As a Toastmaster I always wondered of “What is the Ultimate Goal that can be achieved in Toastmasters?” I started to google and started doing some research. I found so many videos about the World Championship of Public Speaking and Toastmasters Conventions. I was amazed and fascinated to listen to all these amazing speakers. That’s when I started to look for Convention dates for 2019 and I was hoping I had not missed out on this amazing opportunity. Voila!!! I was so excited to see the events page on Toastmasters.org about the convention in Denver, CO!!!! I quickly booked my slot and gave an update to my club’s president Elizabeth Fontenot about my travels. She was so excited to hear this, and she booked a slot for herself too.
As we arrived at the venue which was “Gaylord Convention Center & Resort”, we could feel the inside of our body to vibrate. We were surrounded by beautiful smiling faces and could feel so much positivity in the environment around us!!!! We were SUPER CHARGED with this positive energy!!!
At this convention you are Toastmaster first and everything else is secondary. That is the most amazing part of this convention. For the opening ceremony, I got the opportunity to dress up in my traditional attire “Salwar Kameez”; and it was a Grand Ceremony such as I had never experienced in my life. We felt that we were a part of a grand festival on this planet where 143 nations came together as one!
All our education sessions were electrifying and highly motivating. We learned so much about our presentation skills, effective communication, effective teamwork and more. We noted important points from every session we attended; things we wanted to take back home with us and share our lessons with our club members who couldn’t make it to the convention.
The annual business meeting was arranged with good leadership by our Past International President Lark Doley. I have never seen such a fun and peaceful voting system. I hope in future voting for president of the country could be this fun! Although the meeting went for several hours; we could see how serious everyone was about voting for the right candidates. Candidates have really worked hard to be able to compete at this level! Liz got the opportunity to participate in voting this time, she had amazing experience using the fancy “Old Nokia Mobile” style voting gadget.
Coming to the World Championship of Public speaking! I personally watched these contests on YouTube or other means, but I know that it would be totally different to watch it live! Looking at the excitement of the crowd in the hall, we felt like we were at the Olympics of Speech Craft! The most amazing part of this contest was not only the speakers who entertained us with great speeches, but I was amazed as to how everyone kept pin drop silent when the Toastmaster announced for one minute of silence after every speech! I come from a very crowded country, India; and crowd management is the toughest skill anyone can practice and at the contest this skill was executed fantastically. Controlling the crowd of about 2000 people is truly amazing.
In the end I would like to say that as my first-time experience at the convention, has changed my perception about Toastmasters completely. Just the concept of meeting Toastmasters from all over the world, about 2000 plus people, is fantastic to reunite and learn from each other. It is definitely a master class in public speaking, and this convention has by far been my best experience as a Toastmaster. This is truly the place where I got to learn how many lives Toastmasters touches! This is truly an amazing organization and I am so happy to be a part of it!