The Laughing Toastmaster: What They Don’t Tell You About the D91 Conference

When Rakhi Jain (conference PR) suggested I write an article on, ‘Why Attend the D91 Conference’ I was all for it! At the same time, I thought, ‘Shouldn’t she ask someone who’s a bit more Toastmasterly?’ And by that, I mean people who say things like, ‘Everybody’s a Winner!’ Not a bitter person like me who thinks, ‘If everybody is a winner, why didn’t I even PLACE?‘ and starts to cry?

But then I realized these Toastmasters are too busy doing Toastmasterly things, like TED Talks, or travelling to far-away lands to get photographed with their Toastmaster magazines.

So, you’re stuck with me, which isn’t such a bad thing. Who better to convince you to go to the conference than someone who’s prepared to tell you what nobody else will?

Let’s start with the Evaluation Contest, in which one courageous speaker gives a speech and then waits for ten contestants to tear it to pieces (I mean analyse it thoroughly and thoughtfully) and provide constructive feedback.

Under these circumstances you’d think first prize would go to the speaker for their bravery. Not the case. Another set of evaluators (called ‘the judges’) evaluate the evaluators evaluating and decide on ‘BEST EVALUATOR’. Besides being a terrifying tongue twister, it begs the ultimate evaluators’ question, ‘Who judges the judges?’

Next up are the Workshops, not to be confused with pawnshops, which is where I ended up in order to buy the ticket (cost of living crisis and all that).

Workshops are divided into two main categories, EDUCATIONAL and INSPIRATIONAL, below some excellent examples:

EDUCATIONAL

  • Using Storytelling to do your Tax Returns
  • Learning When to SHUT UP (reserved for advanced Toastmasters)
  • Overcoming Procrastination (usually postponed)

INSPIRATIONAL

  • If You Can’t Convince Them, Confuse Them.
  • When One Door Closes, Pick The Lock
  • Why Toastmasters make good lovers (always oversubscribed with a massive waiting list)

Then there’s the Keynote Speaker, who usually features as the headliner of the event. Now, in most conferences around the world, the keynote speaker is a smashing success! An outstanding communicator! A worthy conference headliner!

But this is Toastmasters.

And what the keynote speaker does not realize is that their world-renown-speech is being scrutinized, analysed and evaluated by every single Toastmaster attending. We can’t help ourselves, it’s part of our DNA! In fact, I would argue the keynote speech should be followed by an evaluation, if only to make the speech even better? Just my opinion.

This leads to the most important event of the conference, The International Speech Contest, which alone is worth the family silverware I had to pawn.

This is the Superbowl of Speakers! The Cricket Cup of Communicators! The Olympics for Orators! And like in the Olympics, these outstanding speakers have faced huge hurdles to get to this point: CLUB, AREA and DIVISION levels. They now face the DISTRICT, which is not so much a hurdle but more like a POLE VAULT, the stakes are so high!

Because of all the years you would want to reach the World Championships, this is the one to do it, as the event will be taking place in beautiful Nassau! Imagine! A beach combo of sizzling sun, sea, sand, sex, speeches and speakers!

But we’re not there yet, and while the more Toastmasterly folk from D91 will be saying, ‘May the best speaker win’, I’m cheering,  ‘May my club member win!’

Finally, there’s the Gala Dinner. An opportunity to relax with fellow Toastmasters while enjoying a delicate meal and drinking responsibly. Ha, ha! Wishful drinking. More like skipping the meal and hitting the booze for a decadent-debauched-downright-degenerate-all-nighter!

If you think this is some kind of joke, it’s not. This year the conference title is ‘Inspiring Futures’ and the gala dinner is sure to inspire all kinds of shenanigans and  over the top fun! Not to mention the perfect opportunity to practice what you learned in the Lover’s Workshop:

Why do Toastmasters make good lovers? They practice body language, know about pace and rhythm and get to the point.

I won’t go into any more detail, because as every Toastmaster worth their speech knows,

‘What happens in the Toastmasters Gala stays in the Toastmaster Gala’.

See ya there!

Sonia Aste is an engineer, writer and comedian. She’s a Toastmaster and member at Riverside Communicators Club.
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Last Updated on 9th October 2023 by Nikita Parks