October 30, 2008

Toastmasters MapCon 24 – 25 October

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MapCon Toastmasters Conference has come and gone (by the way, the MAP stands for Make A Plan). Here's my journey.

Friday 24 October

Caroline Thomasset greeted me at the registration table at the Barnyard Theatre. What a babe. If this was how my night started off, I knew that the rest of the conference was going to be a knockout. Caroline and I have been chatting on Facebook, so it was great to put a face to the name. We were entertained to a live show called Rocking All Over The World. There was a lot of foot tapping as we went down memory lane. And, wolf whistling when the beefcake singer came on. No, not from me … I was ogling the saxophonist (a girl). Great time had by all. After the show, I headed to my guest house, The Honeypot (always thought that was a spy term). And there were no bees and no honeys either. Sorry, there was one, Keryn House, but she was fast asleep.

Saturday 25 October

Met at the conference venue, 1 0n 1, a Three Cities venture. Once again, I was walking around like Mr Bigshot editor, telling anyone within earshot that I was Editor of On a Point. I'm still getting blank stares with questions like, "What is On a Point?", "Who are you, again?" "Why should I care?". And those who did recognise me would say something like, "Have I got a bone to pick with you …", "When are they going to appoint a real editor?", "Where did you get your matric and was English your fourth language". I don't think I'll go to conference again with the view to having my ego boosted 😉

The flag parade always catches me off guard and brings a tear to my eye. Ok, I cried in Under the Tuscan Sun, so maybe I'm just a big baby.

  • Division F Governor, Craig Perry gave the opening address and set the scene.
  • District Governor, Lois Strachan then addressed the audience. I'm always impressed when Lois speaks … her memory is flawless and her delivery faultless.
  • Glen McQuirk, author of Map4Life gave the keynote address and spoke about purpose and goals. Maybe I should be following his advice. I wanted to be editor of The Star and ended up editor of On a Point. I suppose I'm just taking baby steps.
  • The humorous speech contest was something to behold … funny, funny, funny. I laughed so much that I was almost sick … ok, I'm not used to laughing that much. And the humour started with the contest chair, Ruth Goodbrand. I wish she'd quit her official duties so that she could enter a contest … I'm sure you'll do really well, Ruth. By now you all probably know that Jay Hari won the contest. I attended the judges briefing by chief judge, Rod Taylor. Yes, I am mature enough to be a judge. What an experience, I'll never look at judging the same way. I used to declare the winner on who was best dressed … boy, did I get it wrong. Rod is a master at his craft and I learned a lot. I suppose that's why he is the chief judge, after all.
  • The MaxiCon team gave us a presentation on next year's conference in Cape Town. Keep a look out for further news on this event on the website. They came up with big promises – two of the guest speakers (yet to be confirmed) are Helen Zille and Richard Branson. If that promise can be kept, it will be a full house.
  • Three workshops were held at the breakaway sessions. Mind mapping by Attie Swanepoel, financial planning by Mike Byron and Coaching by Tracy Wallis.
  • After lunch the Hall of Fame or HOF was conducted by Rob Douglas. Is it just me or is Rob looking more statesman-like every day … mmm, there's a DG in the making.

My friend Erich Viedge was dvding the proceedings. Now we all know that Erich is an eccentric genius and he didn't fail to disappoint. He dyed his hair red. He wore a khaki kilt (looked like a Scottish member of the AWB) and the brightest shirt ever. Whenever I nodded off (which was seldom), I just looked at Erich and got such a start that I stayed awake for at least another hour. I can't wait to see the DVD, Erich.

District Council Meeting

At around 15h00 all the big kokedoore met for the District Council Meeting. Some of the kokedoore were anxious as they didn't want to miss the big game between the Sharks and Bulls. A motion was put forward to end the Council Meeting early … it was soundly defeated. Ultimately, we missed a bit of the game, but I don't think it was a train smash. Of course, the worst kept secret in District 74 was the main item for discussion at the meeting and caused some heated debate, especially from the Past District Governors' camp. If you don't know what I'm talking about, come to conference next time … there's more drama there than in a soap opera. If you don't know "The Secret", ask your president to fill you in. Through all the drama, what struck me the most is how well run the meeting was. I was proud to be a Toastmaster. I reckon if we ran the country according to Toastmasters principles (and Roberts Rules of Order) we'd be in better shape. The meeting ran smoothly and with decorum. I think our District Parliamentarian, Vic Britz had a big role to play in making sure everything played out smoothly. Although, he did remind me of the court advisor to the king (whispering in Lois's ear every now and then). Kind of a Machiavellian thing going on there.

The meeting ended at 17h00. Some items had to be carried over to the next Council meeting.

19h30 – The Banquet

Everyone looked really spiffy in their formal attire. Rob Urquhart from Sages Toastmasters wore a kilt and looked extremely dapper. The theme of the evening was Around the World and each table represented a different country. I was seated at the USA and got a small bottle of Jack Daniels. We were entertained to an after dinner speech by Jonathan Payne. He gave a rather cynical view on motivation which certainly made me think. I think he pushed some hot buttons. But, that's the whole idea of a speech isn't it. Nobody wants vanilla (bland, non-confrontational, average) – we need a bit of spice. I've come to realise that Toastmasters aren't dancers. When the dance floor was opened up, we didn't see too much action. The Makerena got everyone going, but that was about that. Advice to the MaxiCon organising committee – The trick is to put a lectern and microphone on the dance floor, then you'll see the Toastmasters flock.

Well Done

I think that it was an excellent conference. I learned a lot as I do at every Toastmasters Convention. I'll definitely be signing up at MaxiCon in Cape Town. Congratulations to Conference Convener, Attie Swanepoel and his team: Ann Robinson, Harry Thompson, Brandon Walker, Louise Walker, Brenda Ely, Miranda Train, Caroline Thomasset, Oded Rouche, Craig Perry, Terry-Ann Hunter and Elaine Swanepoel. Take a bow one and all.

Jacques de Villiers is a member of Rivonia Toastmasters

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