Sunday, April 6, 2014

The 2014 Division F Spring Contest Was Incredible


The Toastmasters 2014 Spring Contest Season is open now and running nearly at full speed.  Most clubs and areas have had the contests and now the divisions are determining who they’ll send to the District competitions. April 5th was the District 59 Division F Contest and it was incredible. 

Division F (Southeast Germany) is made up of five areas and they were all represented at the contest. There were people from Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, Darmstadt, Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, all assembled in Mannheim for the contest.  I mentioned in my article about the F3/F4 Area Spring Contest, that I really like the cultural diversity of living in Europe. We had contests in French, German, and English yesterday.

Division F Governor- Regina Kroemer kicked off the contest by mentioning that winners of the contest would be eligible to compete in the District 59 Spring Conference in Krakow (May 16-18, 2014) and the winners from the district would be eligible to compete at the Toastmasters International Convention being held in August in Kuala Lumpar. She also mentioned that Division F would become part of the new District 95 but that we’d still be Division F, where we “Focus and have Fun”.  District 59 Public Relations Officer- Ruxandra Balboa-Pöysti delivered and opening greeting via video. While there is nothing like being there in person, it was nice that we were still able to have a district office be part of our contest. Ruxandra was also the French Target Speaker.

While there is always wonderful things going on at Toastmasters and the different clubs, the two contest seasons really give Toastmasters a chance to shine and to show all the skills that they’ve developed.  It is also an opportunity to learn a lot from some great speakers.  In addition to the messaged that mentioned in the F3/F4 Area Contest (since some the winners there advanced to the Division F Contest) here are 3 new messages that I picked up:

·         You need to have special talents or tools to help others and save lives
·         What if we could turn our weaknesses into our strengths
·         Teachers are all around us (often in unusual people), are you learning the lessons their offering

I was really excited to see Rudy Morales put all his Toastmasters years to work in his speech. In fact I first met Rudy at the Division F Spring Contest in 2012, when he evaluated the target speech that I gave that day. Another aspect of Toastmasters that I really love is watching people grow and develop.  You see time and again that people will start out wanting to improve their public speaking and not only do they become better speakers but they also become leaders and better people.

Until you’ve taken part in a contest or watched one, you don’t know all the work that goes into running a contest.  There needs to be the contest chair for all the contests, which can be challenging with contests being held in three different languages.  There is also a large number of judges needed (including tie breakers) and this can be challenging due to all the languages represented in the contests being held.  The timers play a very important role, watching the time of each speech and evaluation and recording the final time.  A lot of contestants are disqualified because they go over the time limits. There are various other roles as well, but at whatever contest, people are needed in order that a contest can be held. Even if you don’t participate as a contestant, you’re help would be welcome at most any contest and the contests are usually a lot of fun, so it is time well spent.

After two contest weekends, I’m getting excited about the District 59 Spring Conference in Krakow.  If you can find the time to attend, I’m sure that you’ll have a blast.  Since District 95 will be starting after the conference, this will be the last chance to meet so many Toastmasters from all over Continental Europe. I hope to see you there.   

Note: The picture above was taken at the contest before it officially opened and gives you an idea of all the hustle and bustle it is in my club's Flickr group. You can see more pictures from the contest there if you're interested.
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