There has been much conjecture over the past few months about the upcoming change in Toastmasters regarding the end of the Region conferences.  As many of my Toastmasters friends follow my blogs, I thought I’d chime in.

Originally, I was against it.  I didn’t see how taking away the Region Conference could be good for the International Speech Competition or the professional development that comes from the event.

I’ve changed my mind.

After listening to a presentation on how the change will alter the process, I have to say that it’s not all that bad.  Perhaps I should have educated myself better earlier.  Regardless, the information was not disseminated well as I heard from Toastmaster leaders that weren’t all that clear either.

Here’s the deal – Starting next year, the Region Conference is out.  I think the biggest reason is money related (aren’t they always).  It takes a lot of cash to hold one of these events and it only draws between 250-350 people any given year.  The majority come from the area it’s being held.  The balance are district leadership and presenters.  That’s not bringing in the numbers to justify the cost.  As much as the education piece is critical, it now must be strengthened at the district and international levels.

As a speech competitor, I was worried how the demise of a Region conference would be good for me.  I didn’t compete this year as I was a Region educational presenter, but I might again next year.  What I learned was this – a District winner will head straight to the International Convention.  That will bring the top 100 or so Toastmasters into a sort of Round Robin tournament to determine a World Champion.  The good news (that I didn’t know) is that you can keep your District winning speech and give it in the semi-finals.  You still have to come up with a different one if you advance, but it doesn’t mean coming in with two new ones.  You will be randomly drawn to one of 10 semi-finals to compete with others from around the world early in the week.  The 10 winners face off on the Saturday night of the convention.

Here are the cons:

1 – Judges could get overworked.  How many contests can you actually listen to.  My guess is they will need to come up with MANY judges to avoid this.

2 – Added cost for District winners to head to the International.

3 – If you bow out after the semis, it’s probably going to be tough to stay excited the rest of the week.

The pros:

1 – One less date to reserve.  That’s a biggie for me.  When you have to start planning ahead to make sure you can be there, one less contest is a good thing.

2 – You get to use your undefeated speech at the semi-finals.  You can tweak it, massage it, improve it, and then give it all over again. This is again a great time saver.  I’d rather come up with two speeches than three.

3 – You get to compete at the semi-finals with people outside your old region.  If you had a speaker that dominated your region for years, this gives you a chance to get by another group and maybe not meet them until the finals.  Heck, a region could conceivably have 3 or 4 speakers represent them in the finals.  Talk about bragging rights!

I’m sure there will still be some that disagree.  The bottom line is that from a cost standpoint, it’s a no-brainer.  From a competitive standpoint, it actually makes it simpler.  In the end, I changed my mind and am looking forward to throwing my hat back in the ring in 2010.  Will I see you there?
ew months about the upcoming change in Toastmasters regarding the end of the Region conferences.  As many of my Toastmasters friends follow my blogs, I thought I’d chime in.

Originally, I was against it.  I didn’t see how taking away the Region Conference could be good for the International Speech Competition or the professional development that comes from the event.

I’ve changed my mind.

After listening to a presentation on how the change will alter the process, I have to say that it’s not all that bad.  Perhaps I should have educated myself better earlier.  Regardless, the information was not disseminated well as I heard from Toastmaster leaders that weren’t all that clear either.

Here’s the deal – Starting next year, the Region Conference is out.  I think the biggest reason is money related (aren’t they always).  It takes a lot of cash to hold one of these events and it only draws between 250-350 people any given year.  The majority come from the area it’s being held.  The balance are district leadership and presenters.  That’s not bringing in the numbers to justify the cost.  As much as the education piece is critical, it now must be strengthened at the district and international levels.

As a speech competitor, I was worried how the demise of a Region conference would be good for me.  I didn’t compete this year as I was a Region educational presenter, but I might again next year.  What I learned was this – a District winner will head straight to the International Convention.  That will bring the top 100 or so Toastmasters into a sort of Round Robin tournament to determine a World Champion.  The good news (that I didn’t know) is that you can keep your District winning speech and give it in the semi-finals.  You still have to come up with a different one if you advance, but it doesn’t mean coming in with two new ones.  You will be randomly drawn to one of 10 semi-finals to compete with others from around the world early in the week.  The 10 winners face off on the Saturday night of the convention.

Here are the cons:

1 – Judges could get overworked.  How many contests can you actually listen to.  My guess is they will need to come up with MANY judges to avoid this.

2 – Added cost for District winners to head to the International.

3 – If you bow out after the semis, it’s probably going to be tough to stay excited the rest of the week.

The pros:

1 – One less date to reserve.  That’s a biggie for me.  When you have to start planning ahead to make sure you can be there, one less contest is a good thing.

2 – You get to use your undefeated speech at the semi-finals.  You can tweak it, massage it, improve it, and then give it all over again. This is again a great time saver.  I’d rather come up with two speeches than three.

3 – You get to compete at the semi-finals with people outside your old region.  If you had a speaker that dominated your region for years, this gives you a chance to get by another group and maybe not meet them until the finals.  Heck, a region could conceivably have 3 or 4 speakers represent them in the finals.  Talk about bragging rights!

I’m sure there will still be some that disagree.  The bottom line is that from a cost standpoint, it’s a no-brainer.  From a competitive standpoint, it actually makes it simpler.  In the end, I changed my mind and am looking forward to throwing my hat back in the ring in 2010.  Will I see you there?

Cheers,

(c) 2009 Dan Weedin All Rights Reserved <Photo 1>

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