Me & My Muse – Day 1760: Toastmasters District 62 Spring Conference Aftermath

This is it.  The recap that you have been waiting for.  Or is it? I don’t know if you were anxiously sitting around your computer wondering “When is Kyle going to get that recap posted?”  Whether this was you or not, it is all finished.  The recap is ready to read. All 2225 words.  Are you ready?

This was my experience from the conference that I attended the past weekend.  The Spring Conference aftermath from the Toastmasters District 62 Spring Conference at the Delta Hotel by Marriott in Grand Rapids, Michigan: April 27-29, 2018.

First of all, the theme.  To change gears, the theme for Grand Rapids’ Spring Conference was “THE POWER OF CHANGE: Celebrating 60 Years of Toastmasters in Michigan”.  And my, was there change everywhere!  How so?  Experience the change as I will share my stories about this exciting weekend full of food, speaking and networking.

First of all, the name of the theme was decided because of the changes the District has experienced with pathways and going with only one conference per year, instead of the two that they used to have.  They also wanted to tie in the 60 years of the District’s history.  With that, this wonderful theme was born.

So what about the weekend?  It begins with the journey.

My journey consisted of a rather lengthy 117.98 miles to the Delta Hotel.  I had to drive down M-30.  This was the first leg.  After I got to M-46, I turned right.  I then stayed on M-46 for quite a while.  I then turned on southbound US-131.  I followed that until I got off on Ann Street, since there was a detour.  With the directions all messed up from the detour, I had my brother use Google to navigate the remainder of the trip.  I took a side road which eventually routed me onto Leonard Street.  From there, I got on I-96 East for a short time.  I then followed M-37 until I got to 28th Street SE.  I finally turned right into the entrance to the Delta Hotel.  I then parked in a spot that was a little ways from the hotel.

Instead if checking in right away, I went with my brother to check out the Woodland Mall.  I walked around with him, checking out all the various stores.  After the brief tour, I left and went back to the Delta Hotel.

I checked in and took the elevator to the fourth floor.  I then went down the hallway and found my room:  407.  I took the key, scanned the door, and entered.

Upon entering, I was greeted to the sound of the HDTV, which was turned on and was displaying one of the hub channels.  Not caring to watch any TV, I shut it off.

The furnishings were pretty good, considering the $10 million renovation that the hotel had.  Queen-sized beds, a modern looking alarm clock, HDTV and a coffee machine.  A nice change of pace.

The bathroom was also nice. These pictures speak for themselves.


Outside the bathroom was the closet, which I used to hang my belongings.

So as to not overdo it on the room, let’s get to the meat.  Or vegetables if you’re a vegetarian.  After getting situated in the room, I took the elevator to the first floor.  I then went around the corner to the conference rooms.  I went to the registration desk, which was right in the lobby.

I registered and then entered the Great Lakes Room, where I saw various people getting ready for some appetizers.  I helped myself to the buffet and made myself a plate of chips, melted cheese, buffalo/bleu cheese chicken spread, fried mushrooms, chicken wings, tomato, mint and mozzarella cheese kabobs, and some fruit.

Pam Nagel and Karen MacLean began Friday Fun night.  Various table topics were held in a unique game show format.  All in all, it was a lot of fun.

After Friday Fun Night, the Hall of Fame ceremony began.  This was led by Aaron Templeton, who gave recognition to all who earned awards and announced all the unique awards for the year.

With the Hall of Fame done, the District Director’s Reception followed.  This was upstairs, in rooms 500 and 502.

For snacks, I helped myself to all seven cheeses from around the world.  My favorite one was the Fromage blanc.  I had some truffles and washed them down with some water and had a few nice talks.  With my new job right around the corner, I talked to Aaron about investing for the future.

I stayed until 11:30.  Overall, it was a lot of fun and the networking was great.

The next morning was breakfast.  I got myself a venti mocha espresso from Starbucks and entered the ballroom for a breakfast of croissants, pretzel croissants, a fruit pastry, some doughnut holes, and an apple.

Johnny Campbell then made his debut.  He gave his first keynote, titled “The Power of Change: How Change Happens and Excellence is Achieved”.  In this keynote, he talked about change and how he went from selling insurance to becoming a professional speaker.  Throughout the speech, he went through all of his key points regarding change.

I then went to a break out session.  I went to Crystal Mosher and Pam Evan’s session, titled “How to Birth a Toastmasters Club”.  In the session, the duo talked about this strategy using the acronym of S.P.A.M.  I even received a can of SPAM as a consolation prize.

There was then a communication and leadership presentation honoring Shelley Irwin, an important public figure in the community.  An award was given to her and she gave her acceptance speech.

A short memorial followed.  Cindy Pavella and Bruce Frandsen honored Gretchen Smith and Bev Wall, two Toastmasters that are no longer with us (one retired and one died).

Lunch followed, where I was able to enjoy a delicious Turkey and Provolone sandwich with a dill pickle.

After lunch, Johnny gave his second keynote, titled “Win the Crowd: The Insider’s Guide for Creating and Developing Winning Presentations”.  This presentation covered these strategies in great detail.

A second break out session followed.  I went to Doug Klievver’s session, titled “Grow You, Your Club, or Your Profession by Creating a Powerful Story”.  In the session, Doug shared some secrets of how to do this from his book.

The International and Evaluation Speech Contest followed.  Overall, there were some really good speakers, with it being very close between two contestants.  In the end, the winner was Paul Artele, a member of the Grand Blanc Area Toastmasters Club in Grand Blanc, Michigan.  Paul got first place with a speech where he talks about being superman and how someone coached him to do this.  He also won the evaluation contest so he swept both categories.

After the contest was the Business Meeting, which started really late due to the speech contest setting things behind schedule.  To be honest, I was a little antsy during this part.  I did cheer when I heard that Faith Cooper was elected as the Club Growth Director, effective July 1st.  Different items were discussed, with me carefully listening to ensure that parliamentary procedure was conducted properly. Much of the time was spent on the budget, but regardless of this, the meeting ended behind schedule.  All in all, the meeting was pretty good.

After the meeting,  Karen Newhouse gave her last speech before handing it over to Helen Dotson, the new District Director for the next year.  Helen than gave her speech and began the installation of what she had, since most of the appointments would have to be made at a different date. For Area 15, it was Yi Han.

Dinner followed.  I had a salad, a dinner roll, and chicken Parmesan.  I then had a chocolate cake for dessert.

The DTM ceremony followed.  Jeannie Dellar led the ceremony, and there were twelve new DTM’s that would receive their DTM medallion. I stood in the DTM line and congratulated each new one as they went by (including Faith Cooper, who earned her first DTM).

When this was over, the Murder Mystery began.  I semi participated in it, but mostly sat and watched.  I did enjoy watching Joslyn Chulski dress up as the bride.

Part two of the District Director’s reception followed.  There wasn’t anything to eat, so I brought some bold Chex Mix over and had that with water.

The next morning, I got another venti mocha espresso from Starbucks and had a plated breakfast of a breakfast bagel sandwich.  I listened to Johnny Campbell’s final keynote speech “Accredited Speakers Secrets Revealed”.  It was an informative speech with a bunch of information on how to become an Accredited Speaker.

Following that was the last speech.  I and everyone else participated in Lori Haynes’ “Pathways Educational Experience”.  It was a board game and I got to the end with my brother and the other person that I was playing with.

I then stayed for the conference glows and grows, thanks yous and other announcements.

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:  I loved the change theme.  The tie-in to the district’s history was also good.

Yeah.  I agree.  It was a pretty good theme this year.  Well, I’m finishing, okay?  I believe that I said everything that I needed to.

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 60 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…