Monday, December 8, 2008

New Zealand - Dunedin District 72 Convention 2008

When I visited New Zealand some time ago, I met with the District 72 Governor Joan Hook and the LGM Suresh Kumar who was Malaysia born. Attended their speech contest and several club meetings. Found that our Kiwi counterparts ran their Club meetings with formality and putting into practise the Robert's Rules of Order and yet the dress code was very informally.

So it was a nice surprise to receive this email from International Director Poh Kim Siong of an update of the recent New Zealand District 72 Convention.

Goals, Opportunities, Leadership, Direction, Reassurance, Understanding, Support, Help
Dunedin, 14-16 November 2008

The convention opened with a bag piper leading the banner bearers into the auditorium. Dunedin ’s mayor Peter Chin welcomed delegates with a magnificent song in praise of his fair city. He stressed the importance of public speaking and the role of Toastmasters in promoting this in a witty and entertaining speech that had the audience in fits of laughter.

District Governor Chrissy Meyer officially opened the convention using the convention’s gold rush theme to urge participants to open doors of opportunity.

The keynote address from Professor Mark Henaghan, the Dean of Law at the University of Otago was entertaining and informative. He tastefully drew out the parallels between public speaking and sex – why do it if you don’t enjoy it - and urged the audience to consider his ten commandments of public speaking, illustrating his theme with stories taken from his experience in teaching law.

During the convention Immediate Past District Governor Geoff Trotter presented a range of awards to clubs and individuals who had excelled during his term while District Governor Chrissy Meyer presented 11 Toastmasters with their Distinguished Toastmaster award.Table Topics contestants were faced with the subject "We live in a PC world" and all skillfully constructed brief exposes to illustrate their views. David Hatchuel placed first, Mark Baker second and Astarte third.

Humorous speech contestants had the audience in fits of laughter. Adrian Humphries took first honors with 'Wax On – Wax Off' a speech about having his back waxed, Barry Edwards placed second recounting his experiences as the winner of the wooden spoon award in junior rodeo, and Dominic Philips recounted the childhood horrors of being passenger in a car driving up one of Britain’s busiest motorways in the wrong direction.

Sunday's keynote speaker Christian Kasper related some of his experiences in building his company Vouchermate and his success in working alongside key international media companies to develop the business overseas. Using personal stories he transformed what could have been a dry business presentation into an entertaining and informative speech.

There was a diverse range of superb educational. Anna Campbell and Gaelene Woods explained personality types and portrayed that the best speeches are given when they are presented in a way that is true to the speaker's personality type. Gaelene also presented a later educational on speaking from the heart.

Kevin Prohl talked about creating the invisible thread that connects the speaker to the audience. Chris Manly, a Dunedin based drama teacher, explained the fine points of story telling and illustrated them masterfully. (Her description of a pavlova was cruelly evocative with many minutes to go before lunch).

Lindsay Wright’s educational 'Beyond 7 Minutes' focused on techniques for presenting longer speeches. With members of the audience holding up his washing line he illustrated the concept of a theme (the line) holding together a series of inter-related stories (each a piece of washing) and rounded off with volunteers piecing together an effective presentation using this technique (pictured below).District Officers presented educational on membership building and retention and successful clubs.

Chrissy Meyer chaired a well attended district council meeting that dealt efficiently with the business at hand. Past district treasurer Jan Meehan gave a particularly effective visual summary of the district's financial performance for the 2007/8. Chrissy also lead the district officer training on Friday night where area and division governors were briefed on their roles for the coming months and Richard Moffatt, the Division G governor received two bottles of wine for leading his division to a win in the division web site challenge.

There was networking, dancing and general conviviality at the Saturday evening at the dine and dance although some of those who stayed late and then gathered at 6:00 AM on Sunday to watch the Rugby looked a little jaded by the time the conference ended.

Well done to Julie Culpitt and her team for putting together a superb convention.

by Wayne Webley, District 72 PRO

District 72 Official Website

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