Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Fall Day in Freiburg

October has had a lot of celebration because of 90th Anniversary of Toastmasters on October 22nd. This added a little something special to yesterday's District 95 Division F Fall Contest in lovely Freiburg, Germany. Toastmasters every where are holding division contests in preparation for all of the district conferences that are coming up. This was the last step for Division F (South West Germany) on the way to our district conference in November. Much like the autumn colors outside, there was a lot of color in all the contestants talent and delivery. There was also an excitement in the air as contestants participated in Humorous Speech Contests in German and English and Table Topics (improvisational speaking).

I was really impressed with the very enthusiastic group of Toastmasters in Freiburg who were our hosts. The club had it first meeting in with 4 people back in September 2013 and as of yesterday they have more than 20 members. It is quite an accomplishment to think that a little more than a year ago the club was only the idea of one person and he was able to spread his enthusiasm and excitement to get the club started and with so good support they charted and now were holding a division contest! They're a German speaking club and they told us that they're planning on starting and English speaking club, you just know that they will do this. Hats off to this Toastmaster club!

We were privileged to hear former District 95 Area Governor and now Regional Advisor to Region 11, Morag Mathieson tell us about her Toastmasters adventure. Morag told us about her travels as a Regional Advisor and about a woman she recently met in South Africa who was too scared to speak at her own club and who recently did her Ice Breaker and is now motivated to continue on the path to being a Competent Communicator. She also told us that in our own challenges that we needed three types of people. First, we need Catalysts who inspire us to get started. Second, we need Champions who are there with us along the way, who can advise us in how we can deal with the obstacles that will pop up along the way and can advise and coach us as needed. Lastly, we need Cheerleaders, people who encourage us to keep going when we need a little spirit lifting.

Personally, I was very excited about yesterday's event, because I was actually competing in a division contest for my first time and in two different events. This is not something that I really thought would happen when I gave my Ice Breaker a few years ago. I'm pleased with the opportunity that I've had to develop myself in my public speaking abilities, this is something that is unique to Toastmasters and I can't tell you how much this has meant to me. One of the things that I really enjoy about an event like yesterday is to see the level of talent that was competing and looking at what I can learn from everyone and I will learn.

Within the two Table Topics contests (in German and in English) there were two good questions asked. In the English Table Topics contest we were asked what we would do with one extra hour in a 25 hour day.  In the German Table Topics contest, they were told that Santa (or the Weihnachtsman) wasn't coming, what would they do. As a contestant I only heard two of the English answers (one being my own). In Table Topics you only have a short period of time to formulate your response and depending upon the question and the circumstances at the time, you might be able to put together a brilliant response, but more often than not we come away thinking that I could have said this and I should have said that, but that is human nature and it teaches us how to think our our feet. I liked the German question and the responses because I like the diversity of ways that people celebrate that holiday, knowing that it is celebrated differently from country to country and even region to region within the same country. I can tell you now, that when we do get that extra hour in our days, I'll be ready.

I needed to leave the contest yesterday before the winners were announced. I've just seen that Ben Parsons won the English Table Topics and Kailey Peng won the English Humorous Speech Contest.  Norman Gräter won the German Table Topics and German Humorous Speech Contest. Congratulations to them and all the other participants. I'm curious to find out how the other contestants finished. The Division F Contest seemed like a great way to end all the celebrations related to the 90th Anniversary of Toastmasters that have been happening this month.

To all the Toastmasters who are considering coming to Frankfurt for the first ever District 95 Conference November 14th to 16th, I do hope that you'll decide to attend (the website is here). I was told yesterday that they're expecting around 300 Toastmasters from around Europe. For anyone who is curious to check it out, why not visit an area club (you can search for clubs here) and maybe you can even check out contests and all the wonderful workshops in your first ever district conference, and if you're ever in Wiesbaden, I'd love to have you visit my club.
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