This is it. The recap that you have been waiting for. Or is it? Whether it meets or expectations to a T or falls just short of them, here it is, in its entirety. The Fall Conference aftermath from the Toastmasters District 62 Fall Conference at the H Hotel in Midland Michigan: November 11-13, 2016.
First of all, the theme. Having already mentioned it in the past, I believe that it bears repeating. The theme for the Midland’s Fall Conference was “Give Humor a Chance”. And there was a lot of humor this past weekend. How so? Follow me, and I will show you the funny. And try not to laugh too hard. You might want to get some extra underwear just in case. It was a weekend of laughs, chuckles, titters, speaking and networking.
First of all, the name of the theme was decided because it was along our conference chair’s expertise. He has won the humorous speech contest a couple of years ago at the District Level, and he wanted to focus be on how we can improve humor in our own presentations. With that, the theme “Give Humor a Chance” was born.
When will he get to the weekend already? Here it is. First of all, the journey.
My journey consisted of a very long 8.3 miles to the H Hotel. I had to drive down Saginaw Road. This was the first leg. After I got to Herbert Henry Dow High School, I turned right on Main Street. This was the second leg. I drove through the sun dappled roads, past Orchard road, Currie Parkway and M-20. I was then on the final leg. I drove past the Courthouse and to my final destination: the H Hotel. I turned on Ashman, driving downhill to the parking deck. I then proceeded to park my car in a nearby space.
Checking in was quick and efficient. I got my room key and took my luggage to an elevator. I went down the hallway and found my room: 227. Taking my “room badge”, I held it near the scanner. The light turned green. The door was unlocked. I took my luggage and entered the room…
Once inside, I knew what to expect. It was just like before. The room was stylish and contemporary. A charge station sat on the nightstand, complete with an HDMI slot, a USB slot, composite cable jacks, an iPad slot two three-pronged wall outlets and a few other slots and jacks. For those who love gadgets, you could charge them all here. An analog alarm clock radio sat on top, with the phone to the right.
The bathroom was separated by a stained glass sliding door encased in wooden paneling. Inside the bathroom was an open shower, with glass and wall tiles. The shower fixtures were all Kohler. The sink was spacious. A large rectangle with soap and mouthwash.
Right outside the bathroom was a system of drawers and cabinets. One of the smaller cabinets opened a mini fridge. Perched above the drawers was a coffee station. A Keurig coffee brewer sat there, with a rather mediocre assortment of coffee and tea K-packs. I mean, come on! The selection was a lot better in 2014 and here’s the proof.
Here’s the Keurig Station in 2014, with the wonderful selection of K-cups and Tea K-cups.
And this the same Keurig Station, two years later in 2016. Note that there’s much fewer K-cups then what they had in the past. From a fine selection of nine to a pathetic selection of four. Two regular and two decaf. REALLY H Hotel?! You really went cheap on us. So much for the selection! But I digress…The REAL coffee mugs were still there, but I was disenchanted with the subpar selection of coffee flavors.
I checked out the surprises from two years ago. I pressed a switch on the wall, which moved three different curtains up and down. The mirror portrait was an HDTV, which sat directly across from our double beds.
On the side with the HDTV sat a small table with two lounge chairs on either side. A lamp with a floor switch sat to the right of the lounge chairs. This was the perfect place to settle down.
But with a conference to begin, we didn’t do that. I left the room with the items I needed.
When I got to registration, I noticed a few familiar faces at the registration desk. Katherine, the Facility Chair was there. After registering, I entered Indigo I & II, the conference space for the conference. I was tasked with finding the tech person to deliver the lavalier microphone to our room.
A little later, he came and delivered the lavalier microphone. I put it on and tested it, to make sure that it worked. I then exited and helped with registration name tags.
When dinner was set out, I had some lasagna, some fruit, and some dessert.
The evening began with DTM and Accredited Speaker, Conor Cunneen, giving his first keynote titled “Adden Humor Two You’re Presentashun!”. He outlined some tips on how to make people L.A.U.G.H. This was an acronym that incorporated listening, anecdotes, making people “uncomfortable“, googling, and having a hero not. When this was over, we have improv and skits from every table of attendees.
After that, the evening was over. I went up to my room and went to bed.
The next morning was breakfast. The Veterans tribute was done yesterday, so there wasn’t anything done this morning. The tribute involved a video clip of Lady Gaga singing the National Anthem. The Vets then had pins placed on them.
Conor Cunneen then gave his second keynote, titled “What Mark Twain Learned Me ’bout Public Speakin’”. In this keynote, he shared his M.A.R.K. T.W.A.I.N. acronym, and talked about Mark’s life and history as a presenter and a writer.
I then went to a break out session. I went to Steve Carlson’s session, titled “How to Safely Infuse Humor Into Your Speech (and NOT Have It Blow Up!)”. In the session, Steve just talked about earthworms. Yup. There was so much that I learned about earthworms, and how good they were as a food. Actually, that was a mislead, which is what he taught in his presentation. I learned about how to infuse humor and different joke, and the tips and tricks that he used to pull this off. When he finished, I was disappointed. Come on Steve! Go back to talking about the earthworms!
After that breakout session was a presentation from Vera Johnson, our Region VI International Director. She talked about 9/11, and how she got over 100 people out of the World Trade Center. She then shared her journey through Toastmasters. Overall, it was very informative. She also incorporated Conor’s L.A.U.G.H. acronym into her speech, so that was a plus.
Lunch followed, with the Hall of Fame Award ceremony. Having earned five awards last year, I got a Triple Crown Award. I also earned a Distinguished Area Award for getting my Area to Distinguished last year when I was an Area Director. And last but not least, I earned the 2015/2016 Area Leadership Award, for demonstrating excellent leadership and teamwork. This was achieved through service to my clubs by providing training, encouragement, and guidance. Overall, that luncheon was quite exciting.
After the awards, Conor Cunneen gave his last keynote, titled “Toastmaster Success through the Gift of GAB (Goals, Attitude, Behavior)” Conor shared his personal story with being pulled over by a cop when he talked about attitude. All in all, it was a fun and informative presentation.
The Humorous and Table Topics Speech Contest followed. Overall, there were some really good speakers, including one that blew everyone away. This was Roni Thebo-Park, member of an S Division club, Zoetis Toastmasters. She got first place with a speech where she talks about the “birds and the bees” with her children. The speech involved her missing not knowing about training bras and Frenchkissing as a kid. She was determined to not have this same thing happen to her children. With all of her well-timed jokes and humor, she won.
The Table Topics Contest followed. All in all, the topics were pretty good. They all answered the question “What qualities do you like in others and why?” Robert Stuberg of the Muskegon Toastmasters Club won.
After that contest was the Business Meeting. Different items were discussed, with me issuing a couple motions. All in all, the meeting was okay.
After that, dinner followed, with the DTM ceremony following. From the luncheon earlier, I was not done. Of the seven new DTM’s that would receive their DTM medallion, I was one of them.
Helen Dotson led the ceremony, recounting her fond memories of joining Toastmasters and her exciting journey to DTM. When she finished her story, she invited all of the past DTM’s to come up and form a line, with Aaron and Karen leading it. Aaron would place the medallion on each new recipient, while Helen read their bio. When it was my turn, I was so happy. I shook hands with each man in line and I hugged each woman. This was a proud accomplishment for me and I cherished each minute of it.
After dinner was the head shaving ceremony. Throughout the conference, Jim of Midland Toastmasters and David of Tuesday Talkers had a contest to see who could sign up the most members for the conference. The loser had their head shaved by the winner. Tuesday Talkers had 8 members signed up. Midland Toastmasters had 18 members signed up. With that, David’s head was shaved by Jim.
But that wasn’t all. Jim also made another bet. If there was more than 100 members at the conference, he would have his head shaved, too. Lorrie reported the results. 117 members registered, so Jim’s head was shaved by David.
Furthermore, Midland Toastmasters had the most members in the District that signed up for the Platinum conference package, so Midland Toastmasters won $100 for their club. This was happy to hear, since we can use that money to get a new banner stand.
When this was over, Vera Johnson spoke about matters that were addressed at the business meeting. She felt that this was a better use of her time than talking about her original speech. The matters included the new Toastmasters Pathways Program, the conference moving to one a year starting in the spring, and Toastmasters moving their World Headquarters to Denver.
The night continued with a Magician/Comedian/Escape Artist. His name was Robert Zarinf, and he was quite impressive.
After this was the District Director’s Reception in room 333. It was “Nacho Average District Director’s Reception”. There was a nacho bar with tortilla chips, cheese wiz, black olives, jalapenos, sour cream, and salsa. There was also a veggie tray with BBQ hummus, and some chocolate desserts. There were pretzels, marshmallows, chocolate chips, Dove chocolate baking rounds, and sugar free caramels. The reception got so crowded that it was hard to hear anyone’s conversation. I made my rounds and talked to a few people, addressing the ultimatum of having the elected positions filled by December 15th.
After that, I called it a night.
The next morning, I had breakfast and listened to Crystal Mosher’s speech “Come! Learn the Knack of Networking!”. It was quite informative and I learned a lot from it.
Following that was my last breakout session. I heard Jerry Conrad’s ”Make a Personal Connection With Your Audience. It’s All About Them”. I loved this session, as it was relevant to everyone.
I then stayed for the conference glows and grows, and thanks yous.
I then went home and relaxed.
If you didn’t have time to read all that, let me give you the short version. I learned a whole lot this weekend, as did everyone else who was present.
With that, I will now end….
Muse: That was beautiful. Not like your fake entry from a few days ago.
Fake? That was real! So I scheduled it in advance. How else was I supposed to leave something like that if I was gone yesterday?
Muse: The hotel did have a computer area. You could’ve left it then.
Well, I’m finishing, okay? I believe that I said everything that I needed to. Except for…oh yeah!
One of the important things that I learned from Conor Cuneen: What do I want my attitude to be?
Muse: That’s pretty good. It really gets to the point.
It does. Whenever you’re angry, think about that question. It really helps.
Muse: I learned a lot from my conference too, but I’m tired. I didn’t sleep well last night so I’m going to take a nap.
Okay. I’ll let you do that…
Today’s high is going to be 58 degrees and the silver lining is getting this recap done.
To all of you who have ever had a wonderful learning experience, I hope that you all have a fantastic day.
Muse: That conference recap was golden. I loved what I learned at my conference too, but man, am I tired…