Saturday, April 17, 2010

Conference (Day Two)

*** Note...my wife heckled me a bit for writing a fairly dry entry yesterday...my apologies for that. I had little time to write it so just went for the quick facts.  I will endeavour to do better this time around...but be prepared, it'll be a long one.

Now on with the story. ***

As to my presence at the conference itself, Saturday did not start well.  As I mentioned previously, to save some coin I stayed at my friends down the road from the convention.  Well, being nice people that they are, after a late night of chatting away they let me sleep in.  Problem was, I didn't WANT to sleep in...I wanted to get there as early as possible so that I could grab a coffee, maybe do some writing and hopefully chat with some of the other possible early risers.
As soon as I realized what time it was (already 7:40am, only 20 minutes before opening ceremonies), I made a mad scramble to get myself showered and ready to head out the door.  But then I realized I was starving, so stopped to grab myself some breakfast.  This turns out to have been a mistake.  I missed seeing such events as the Parade of Banners, the general introductions of the district executive and especially missed seeing Hazel McCallion, the Mayor of the City of Mississauga give a speech.  I was fortunate enough to catch most of the morning's Keynote Speech by Brian Brennan from the Towns of York club in Aurora so all wasn't a total loss.
Once that meeting was adjourned, it was the time  for workshops and some dilemnas to face.  Each block of time was shared by four workshops, so you had to pick and choose each time.  For myself, the first workshop I chose was by a gentleman named William Cassels who discussed how to Write unique speeches using music as a guide.  His was a truly inspirational story where he discussed how his major setback to providing good speeches was a dibilitating stutter he suffered from.  Through practice he discovered that if he wrote his speeches to music; concentrating on such things as the timing of the melody to the length of his lines of dialigue it provided him with a great ability to deliver his speeches in an impactful manner.  He gave many examples of the classical musical he used for his speeches, followed by using the same piece of music as he spoke.  In addition to this, he showed how as a fan of ballroom dancing he would use the same music to control how he used the stage with his movement and gestures.  To me it was a fantastic idea that I am thinking of trying for one of my future speeches.
My next workshop choice was by a younger lady named Erin Lau, who provided a great session on Leadership called Flexing Your Creativity.  It was very much a think outside of the box concept; how to see the world in a new way.  For her youth, she held the room extremely well and had us all go through exercises including using 2 pipe-cleaners to make something in one minute.  I formed mine into the shape of a mouse and when my immediate neighbour noticed this he took delight in my little bit of artwork and Kept It!  Not that I was too worried about it...I'm sure it would have ended up in garbage if I brought it home, but I never figured out why he did that.  Oh well, at least I inspired somebody with my little creature design.  Worst case scenario I know where his club is....I could also go pester him about it..{grin}.
Following lunch, I was talked into taking Judy Suke's seminar on From Free To Fees and I'm so glad I did.  Judy is a fantastic comedic speaker who has been speaking for corporate groups for several years now.  She gave plenty amount of information on how to properly market yourself as a professional speaker as well as tips on what kind of material is in high demand.  Plenty food for thought there....feft me quite psyched to get working on my own material as soon as possible (after I've finished blogging, of course).
Next, it was time for the District 86 speech competition.  These speakers are those that have won at their club level, their area level and their division levels...so I knew we were in for a treat.  Doubly exciting though is that a member of my own club, Annette Lavigne was one of the eight contestants.
All I can say following the contest was WOW.  I would not have wanted to be one of the judges, because all of these speeches were truly fantastic.  I had thought about discussing them here, but for the sake of timing I'll just cut to the chase.  The winners were:

3rd place...Annette Lavigne 
2nd place...Frederique Herei
1st place...Gregory C.N. Smith

So now in August, Gregory will have the opportunity to compete at the International level in California.  I wish him well, and will be watching the results from afar.

They had the business meeting next...but I honestly skived off from most of it to do some writing.  I did catch some of the elections though and got to know a few of the people who will be representing us as executive members.  Suzette Leeming, who has been my clubs Area Governer is now moving upwards, taking on the role of Division M governer.  I truly wish her all the best with that role.

To end the day, it was time for the District Governer's Ball.  It began with a spectacular dinner finished off with one of the best pieces of chocolate cake I've ever had.  We had a dynamic range of conversations at our table, ranging from my background in theatre to a spirited discussion of Ayn Rand, where Suzette and I kind of tag-teamed our individual knowledge of her works for the rest of our captive audience.

But then sadly, I realized that it was getting close to 10:30, and that I had once again broken my promise to Joe and Chi for when I'd get to their place.  So, just as the first dancers took to the floor in their finest duds, I bid adieu to many of my new friends and the conference for the night.  I did feel bad about doing so, part of me wanted to stay.  Lessons learned...but I'll discuss that in part three.

Look forward to my information on that and much much more coming soon.

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