I have had the honour of attending my first Toastmasters convention for the District 86 area in Missisauga and what a joy it’s been, Meeting and socializing with so much talent has been an incredible inspiration and it leads me to work in a more productive manner.

I arrived Friday evening at the Delta Meadowvale just as the First Timer’s meeting was about to start. Now, for those of you who are not members of Toastmasters, this particular meeting is just what it sounds like – for people who are attending their first conference. I have no issues speaking these days, however I am occasionally still a tad shy on meeting new people unless there is a specific purpose behind it. So this meeting is perfect for people such as myself; it provides the opportunity to break the ice. As a matter of fact, they FORCE you to meet new people…they provided us with a little book and we had to go around and swap information such as our biggest similarities and differences.

I found myself in my element, talking about my best topic…ME, and people seemed to be very interested in my theatrical background. Seems like people with my kind of background are in high demand (filing that fact away with big bold stickers on it for future reference) as I have already have what many of the people there don’t already have – confidence on the stage.

Then we were honoured to meet with the conferences Keynote Speaker Mark Hunter (2009 World Champion Speaker) who gave us a very rousing speech about his origins as a speaker in Australia. We were introduced to many current and past members of the executive council and were given a good pep talk as to why our contributions to the organization in general was a needed and cherished thing.

Following this meeting the Mardi Gras themed official meet and greet started, and I regretted instantly that I did no go with my first instinct to wear my Hawaiian shirt and beads to the convention. The organizers dressed up in their finest wigs (that’s a joke folks, they were clown wigs) and the most outrageous feathered masks I’ve seen this side of a pantomime. No, I went with a more modest jeans and nice shirt ensemble. However I soon realized I was on par with a good majority of the attendies (at least a couple hundred) so felt a little less guilty for not playing along. It was a good time in general. They had us play a game where we each received one coin and if we had somebody else introduce themselves to us we had to give it up. Of course, the opposite is also true so you have the opportunity to make a good amount of coin yourself (sadly plastic). I lost mine within seconds, and everybody I introduced myself to had already lost their coins. Never did find out who was hoarding them all. I hung around with my groups area governer Suzette, and another member from my club Kathleen but also had the chance to meet a lot of great people there from all walks of life.

Then we had a magician come on stage to entertain us. The Great Gerard did a fairly good yet short performance of slight of hand involving plenty of audience participation. Following this we were introduced to a stage hypnotist, Paul Anthony, who gave a commanding performance. One of the exercises he had us do was interlock our hands, place our index fingers together in a point and raise them above our heads…and keep them there. I ended up on stage with about three dozen other suckers people and was in agony by the time he allowed us to release them. This is likely one of the reasons I was not able to completely find myself in a relaxed state for hypnosis…my shoulders were killing me. Soon enough, it was obvious to him that myself and a couple dozen others weren’t good hypnotic material so he let us go back to our seats…but another eight remained in what appeared to be sleep or at least a very dormant state. He had some fun with them, and apparently the rest of the show went well. I had to run out before the show ended though as I had promised my friends Joe and Chi that I would be at their place to crash for the night just after 9, and it was already 10pm (oops!). Definately looking forward to tomorrows session (workshops and speech competition, yay!), and will write about that in a separate post.