Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Whole is greater than the Parts - 9th October

Flower Power Conference Adds Toastmasters Value

This past weekend saw close on two hundred Toastmasters from all over Southern Africa make their way to Kirstenbosch gardens, nestled beneath the majesty of Table Mountain as it was time again for MiniCon.

Traditionally, this is the time for the Humorous Speech Contest, but for the first time the Impromptu Contest was also defended.

Friday night saw Cape Town funny man; Rob van Vuuren (of Corné and Twakkie fame) entertained the delegates after the cocktail meet and greet with his particular brand of humour.

Thereafter, a closely fought Impromptu Speech Competition was held. For those delegates who were used to the one word or short phrase impromptu topic, there was a surprise in store. What would you have made of the following topic ‘Dr Seuss said: Sometimes the questions are complicated, but the answers are simple. What do you think?’ In any event, the hardy contestants were not put out and came up with some wonderful responses. Congratulations to the winner, Graham Shirley!

Early Saturday morning the brightly dressed delegates (in honour of the Flower Power theme of the Conference) were raring to go. The Flag Ceremony was followed by introductions and welcomes and then we were inspired by the keynote speaker, comedian and entertainer, Allan Committie (known by all for his wonderfully popular Defending the Caveman). His easy, interactive style had the whole audience laughing and learning – which is what Toastmasters is all about, not so? All too soon an hour had passed and it was time for more serious matters – the Hall of Fame, where Toastmasters and their clubs were acknowledged for their achievements of the past year. Special congratulations go to all the Division E Toastmasters for achieving their own goals – and for enabling the Division to achieve Select Distinguished Division status!

Another change that was rung was the introduction of the Afrikaanse Humoristiese Skouspel. Following on from the Zulu speech contest in May this year, we were treated to the best of Afrikaans humour by four intrepid Toastmasters. The winner, from the West Rand, had the audience howling with her account of a family trying out a new motor boat on the Vaal Dam during a time of extreme cold, because Boot gaan ons boot! (Roughly translated that means, ‘we have a boat, so we are going to use it!’ – it was a whole lot funnier in Afrikaans)

A choice of three workshops followed. I was really impressed with the presentation on Becoming Better Impromptu Speakers and those delegates who attended the other two: On Speaking as a Leader; and the Discussion Leader, were equally satisfied.

After a really delicious lunch, it was time for the Humorous Speech Contest. Eight contestants delivered their best material and we found ourselves transported with them to scenes of trout fishing; road rage and India. Our congratulations go to Biddy White from KZN on taking home the winner’s trophy this year. Sadly, our own Nicholas Mitchell was not placed, but we all enjoyed his speech, Why Four? (or should we say Five?)

Executive members then went on to do the business of Toastmasters.

Later that evening after the Banquet members were inspired and empowered to embrace change by extreme adventurer, Braam Malherbe who regaled them with accounts of his work in conservation. Truly, this was a fitting end to a weekend of learning and growth.

So, I look back over a weekend of amazing moments and can truthfully say that the whole experience was so much more than the sum of its parts. If you are looking for some inspiration; for an experience that will motivate and stimulate you to greater achievement, then look no further than the next Conference – MaxiCon 2013 (called most aptly, LeaderCon). It will be held in Gauteng and details (including Early Bird special price offers) will be available very soon. Watch this space.

Until next time
Ricky Woods

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