Submitted by Sheila C.
I was so excited to learn that the 86th Annual Toastmasters International Convention would be in Vancouver, BC in 2017, and I looked forward to the event all year. By the time it actually rolled around, I admit I was feeling a little weary of Toastmasters. I’d had a big year already serving as Area Director, achieving President’s Distinguished Area, completing a High Performance Leadership Project that included co-sponsoring a new club, and completing the DTM award — all of which culminated at the end of June.
But with the convention so close to home, it was a MUST. Held at the Canada Place convention centre in downtown Vancouver, the location could not have been more superb. Even as a somewhat “local”, I was blown away by the atmosphere created in such a beautiful building — and proud to be hosting the world from this magnificent place. Approximately 1800 people (including 200 Helping Hands volunteers) attended a very well run event.
Although I was most interested in watching the semi-finals and the finals of the World Championship of Public Speaking, I enjoyed many of the other sessions as well, such as hearing the candidates for international office positions answer table topics style questions, and learning more about the Accredited Speaker program. I really enjoyed storytelling sessions by Kindra Hall and Mohamed-Ali-Shukri, and I know I missed presentations by some other great speakers too.
The absolute highlight of the week for me was being front row centre for the presentation by Sandra McDowell. Sandra has been educating herself on leadership for the past 15 years and is passionate about sharing her knowledge with others to create better work environments and relationships. Her presentation connected with many, and it was THRILLING to witness a huge lineup of people waiting to talk to her about her book, Your Mother Was Right: 15 Unexpected Lessons About Leadership and the Brain (which I helped her produce!).
I will bet there are some Toastmasters out there who would love to offer evaluations to help bring Sandra’s speaking to the next level. Maybe she’ll join a club because, up to this point, she has been a DIY-er. She and I have known and supported each other since we were six years old, and she wouldn’t even let ME preview her presentation. It was a BIG deal for her to be on this international stage sharing her message. She shared it well, and I couldn’t be more proud!!