Toastmasters

District 45 Toastmasters Fall Conference – November 3-5, 2017

I attended the 2017 District 45 Toastmasters Fall Conference on November 3-5.

District 45 includes all of
Vermont, New Hampshire, & Maine in the USA, and all of
New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, & Nova Scotia in Canada.

Sad to say, but this will be the last District 45 Fall Conference. Toastmasters International has called for Districts to only have one annual conference to be held in the Spring, starting next year. For the last Fall Conference, though, this was a blast!

The weekend conference was hosted at the Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee, Vermont.

Lake Morey Resort - Fairlee, VT - Entrance
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Entrance

Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Front side view
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Front side view

The ground-floor back-side of the building provided a vastly spacious dining room for breakfasts, with spectacular views of Lake Morey.

Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Breakfast Dining Room
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Breakfast Dining Room
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – View from Breakfast Dining Room
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – View from Breakfast Dining Room
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Beautiful View from Breakfast Dining Room
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Beautiful View from Breakfast Dining Room

Stepping outside the Breakfast Dining Room, the panoramic view of Lake Morey was positively gorgeous.

Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Outside Back View looking into Breakfast Dining Room
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Outside Back View looking into Breakfast Dining Room
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Panorama View of Lake from Left to Right #1
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Panorama View of Lake Morey from Left to Right #1
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Panorama View of Lake Morey from Left to Right #2
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Panorama View of Lake Morey from Left to Right #2
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Panorama View of Lake Morey from Left to Right #3
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Panorama View of Lake Morey from Left to Right #3
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Panorama View of Lake Morey from Left to Right #4
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Panorama View of Lake Morey from Left to Right #4
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Panorama View of Lake Morey from Left to Right #5
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Panorama View of Lake Morey from Left to Right #5
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Panorama View of Lake Morey from Left to Right #6
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Panorama View of Lake Morey from Left to Right #6

I shared a room with two other gentlemen, my mentor Joe Grondin and David Cormier. This room, which overlooked the Main Entrance, was extremely huge!

Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Room overlooked the Entrance
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Room overlooked the Entrance
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Window of Room  that overlooked the Entrance
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Room Window on left that overlooked the Entrance
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Room - View from beds toward only window
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Room – View from beds toward only window (sofa is also a pullout bed)
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Room - View from window toward beds
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Room – View from window toward beds
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Room - View from beds toward additional couched room, closet, and huge bathroom
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Room – View from beds toward extra space, closet, & huge bathroom
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Room - View of beds from bathroom door
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT – Room – View of beds from bathroom door

The functions throughout the weekend were such fun as well as productive, especially sitting at table with good friends.

District 45 Fall Conference 2017 - Priscilla Hansen Mahoney, Angela Chute, Dawna-Jean Davis Turchon
District 45 Fall Conference 2017 – Priscilla Hansen Mahoney, Angela Chute, Dawna-Jean Davis Turchon
District 45 Fall Conference 2017 - David Cormier, my mentor Joe Grondin, and Priscilla Hansen Mahoney
District 45 Fall Conference 2017 – David Cormier, my mentor Joe Grondin, and Priscilla Hansen Mahoney
District 45 Fall Conference 2017 - Joe Grondin and Tom Dowd
District 45 Fall Conference 2017 – Joe Grondin and Tom Dowd

Some fantastic educational workshops were also given throughout the weekend. My mentor, and brand new Accredited Speaker, Joe Grondin, presented what was (in my opinion) one of the best workshops of the whole event, titled,
Goal Setting and Planning – “I DID IT!”.

District 45 Fall Conference 2017 - Joe Grondin teaches original workshop #1
District 45 Fall Conference 2017 – Joe Grondin teaches original workshop #1
District 45 Fall Conference 2017 - Joe Grondin teaches original workshop #2
District 45 Fall Conference 2017 – Joe Grondin teaches original workshop #2
District 45 Fall Conference 2017 - Joe Grondin teaches original workshop #3
District 45 Fall Conference 2017 – Joe Grondin teaches original workshop #3

Because this was the very last District 45 Fall Conference, that means that this was the last District-level contest-cycles for the Humorous Speech Contest and the Evaluation Contest.

I had the joy and pleasure of coaching a fellow member from one of my own clubs through this last and final cycle, Priscilla Hansen Mahoney. So exciting, she made/won/earned it all the way up to winning 2nd Place in the Humorous Speech Contest. I was (and am) of the personal opinion that the “real competitive contest” among the contestants was a neck-and-neck horse race between those “Top-Two.” (Please see the separate blog post I made regarding, Priscilla wins 2nd at District!)

Last D45 Humorous Speech Contest 2017 - 3rd Place, Angi Francesco
Last D45 Humorous Speech Contest 2017 – 3rd Place, Angi Francesco
Last D45 Humorous Speech Contest 2017 - 2nd Place, Priscilla Hansen Mahoney
Last D45 Humorous Speech Contest 2017 – 2nd Place, Priscilla Hansen Mahoney
Last D45 Humorous Speech Contest 2017 - 1st Place, Talia Steeves
Last D45 Humorous Speech Contest 2017 – 1st Place, Talia Steeves

The other last & final Fall contest was conducted on Sunday morning. In my opinion, my friend from New Hampshire, Manasi Kadade, stood way ahead and showed us all how a truly Excellent Evaluation is done. As genuinely well-done as the other contestants’ evaluations were, I was of the perspective that there really was never a doubt that she had won 1st Place.

Last D45 Evaluation Contest 2017 - 1st Manasi Kadade, 2nd Aidan Matchett, 3rd Ross Mabey
Last D45 Evaluation Contest 2017 – 1st Manasi Kadade, 2nd Aidan Matchett, 3rd Ross Mabey
Last D45 Evaluation Contest 2017 - Manasi Kadade wins 1st Place
Last D45 Evaluation Contest 2017 – Manasi Kadade wins 1st Place

We were fortunate enough to have not one but two powerful presentations from VIP guest speaker,
Lance Miller, the 2005 World Champion of Public Speaking (WCPS).

D45 Fall Conference 2017 - the 2005 WCPS Lance Miller workshop
D45 Fall Conference 2017 – the 2005 WCPS Lance Miller workshop
D45 Fall Conference 2017 - the 2005 WCPS Lance Miller keynote at District Director's Banquet
D45 Fall Conference 2017 – the 2005 WCPS Lance Miller keynote at District Director’s Banquet

At the Awards Ceremony, I received two awards.

The first award was for sponsoring at least 5 or more new Toastmaster members throughout the previous fiscal year (July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017).

D45 Fall Conference 2017 Awards Ceremony - Award for Sponsoring 5+ new Toastmasters
D45 Fall Conference 2017 Awards Ceremony – Award for Sponsoring 5+ new Toastmasters
D45 Fall Conference 2017 Awards Ceremony - along with fellow award recipients, Candice Buell & Joe Grondin, the D45 Program Quality Director Jeff Hebert (center-right) gives award to Mark Henkel (left) for sponsoring 5+ members
D45 Fall Conference 2017 Awards Ceremony – along with fellow award recipients, Candice Buell & Joe Grondin, the D45 Program Quality Director Jeff Hebert (center-right) gives award to Mark Henkel (left) for sponsoring 5+ members

Actually, I had sponsored 15 new members of the previous year. As no on else in District 45 Toastmasters had sponsored as many as that number, that qualified me to earn the Allen E. Seavey Memorial Membership award. This was not the first I earned this presitigious award, nor was it the second time. After earning for 2012 (18 new members) and for 2016 (16 new members), this last year (2017) is now the third time since I joined Toastmasters in 2010 that I have won (earned) this award.

D45 Toastmasters 2017 Allen E Seavey award for sponsoring the greatest number of members in the previous year
D45 Toastmasters 2017 Allen E Seavey award for sponsoring the greatest number of members in the previous year
D45 Fall Conference - Program Quality rJeff Hebert (right) awards Mark Henkel (left) with the Allen E Seavey Award
D45 Fall Conference – Program Quality rJeff Hebert (right) awards Mark Henkel (left) with the Allen E Seavey Award

I admit that I was rather stoked to have actually been able to earn this award for the third time.

D45 Fall Conference 2017 Award Ceremony - Mark Henkel earns Allen E Seavey Award for third time
D45 Fall Conference 2017 Award Ceremony – Mark Henkel earns Allen E Seavey Award for third time

Truly, this last and final District 45 Toastmasters Fall Conference was full of fun and education.

The "Thought Takeaway " Board - what Toastmasters said they got out of the D45 Fall Conference 2017
The “Thought Takeaway” Board – what Toastmasters said they got out of the D45 Fall Conference 2017
Goodies in the Swag Bag of the D45 Toastmasters Fall Conference 2017
Goodies in the Swag Bag of the D45 Toastmasters Fall Conference 2017
Yummy Dessert at District Director's Banquet at D45 Toastmasters Fall Conference 2017
Yummy Dessert at District Director’s Banquet at D45 Toastmasters Fall Conference 2017

Best of all, seeing old friends is one of the best reasons for attending the Distirct 45 Toastmasters Conferences.

D45 Fall Conference 2017 - Deb Steeves from Canada poses with the New Hampshire ladies, Sue Francesco, Angi Francesco, and Candice Buell.
D45 Fall Conference 2017 – Deb Steeves from Canada poses with the New Hampshire ladies, Sue Francesco, Angi Francesco, and Candice Buell.
D45 Fall Conference 2017 – David Cormier, Deb Steeves, Charlene Fox, & Joe Grondin
D45 Fall Conference 2017 – David Cormier, Deb Steeves, Charlene Fox, & Joe Grondin
D45 Fall Conference 2017 - District Director and friend Malinda Regimbal & Mark Henkel
D45 Fall Conference 2017 – District Director and friend Malinda Regimbal & Mark Henkel

As a fellow pursuer of excellence, I enjoyed and was truly educated by the public presentations by – and the private conversations with – the 2005 World Champion of Public Speaking, Lance Miller. Having access to such proven expertise definitely makes attending the Conference effectively “pay for itself.”

2005 WCPS Lance Miller & Mark Henkel at the D45 Fall Conference 2017
2005 WCPS Lance Miller & Mark Henkel at the D45 Fall Conference 2017

Most of all, for me, the biggest value was having live (non-skype) time to learn directly from my amazing mentor, Accredited Speaker, Joe Grondin.

Accredited Speaker Joe Grondin & Mark Henkel at the D45 Fall Conference 2017
Accredited Speaker Joe Grondin & Mark Henkel at the D45 Fall Conference 2017

What more can be said? Not much else, really. This was a fantastic and productive time at the last and final District 45 Toastmasters Fall Conference, at the Lake Morey Resort, in Fairlee, Vermont, United States, on November 3-5, 2017.

Lake Morey Resort - Fairlee, VT - Entrance
Lake Morey Resort – Fairlee, VT

Priscilla Hansen Mahoney wins 2nd Place at last Humorous Speech Contest of District 45 Toastmasters

By the Autumn of 2017, World Headquarters of Toastmasters International had made a new requirement that all Districts must reduce from two Conferences down to only one District Conference each year. Hence, at the District 45 Fall Conference, on November 3-5, 2017, at Lake Morey Resort, in Fairlee, VT, US, the District 45 Toastmasters Humorous Speech Contest was the last and final year that this particular contest cycle will ever happen in the District.

For this last and final year of the Humorous Speech Contest cycle, I chose not to compete.

The reason was easy. I wanted to, instead, focus on supporting and coaching a fellow Toastmaster and friend, Priscilla Hansen Mahoney.

Priscilla had put together a great and very funny speech, titled, “Sink or Swim.” With this speech, she moved beyond the local club to win 1st Place at the Area 6 level contest on September 26, 2017, in Portland, Maine.

Priscilla Hansen Mahoney - 1st Place - Area 6
Priscilla Hansen Mahoney – 1st Place – Area 6 Humourous Speech Contest

Two and a half weeks later, on October 14, 2017, in Auburn, Maine, after making the already-great speech even better, Priscilla won 1st Place at the Division B level contest.

Priscilla Hansen Mahoney – 1st Place – Division B Humorous Speech Contest

Priscilla then took the next three weeks to make the speech even better.

On Saturday, November 4, 2017, at the District 45 Humorous Speech Contest, she gave a fun, funny, and inspiring presentation of “Sink or Swim.”

Priscilla Hansen Mahoney
Priscilla Hansen Mahoney speech “Sink or Swim” at District 45 Toastmasters Humorous Speech Contest

She was up against a lot of good humorous speeches from some very capable fellow contestants.

Contestants of the very last District 45 Toastmasters Humorous Speech Contest

In my opinion, the contest was really a neck-and-neck horse race of only the “Top Two,” as the most amazing standouts:

Priscilla Hansen Mahoney’s “Sink or Swim,”
vs.
Talia Steeve’s “Pants on the Ground, Mama Would Be So Proud.”

I fully enjoyed eating formal meals with both of these outstanding ladies during the weekend events, making new friends with Talia! She is a great young lady with a great attitude.

Mark Henkel and Talia Steeves

Priscilla and Talia, both of these fantastic women had also become fast friends too!

Priscilla Hansen Mahoney and Talia Steeves

Ultimately, even in a close race like this one, there can only be one 1st Place – which Talia Steeves won.

Priscilla Hansen Mahoney did amazingly: she won the 2nd Place trophy.

Priscilla Hansen Mahoney wins 2nd Place at District 45 Humourous Speech Contest

She did such an awesome job throughout this whole contest cycle.

For me, it has been both a pleasure and an honor to have been even a small part of her outstanding journey to the 2nd Place victory at the very last Humorous Speech Contest of District 45 Toastmasters.

When Priscilla online-posts the video of her speech (which she asked me to record), I will post/embed it here too.
EDIT UPDATE, 1/31/2018:   Here is the video I recorded/engineered of her great speech that Priscilla has youtube-posted:

Absolutely, Priscilla Hansen Mahoney rocked this whole cycle! Congratulations Priscilla!

District 45 Toastmasters Spring Conference – May 19-21, 2017

I attended the 2017 District 45 Toastmasters Spring Conference on May 19-21.

District 45 includes all of
Vermont, New Hampshire, & Maine in the USA, and all of
New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, & Nova Scotia in Canada.

The weekend conference was entirely held at the Grand Summit Hotel at Sunday River in Newry, Maine.

With this venue being a mountain winter ski resort, this conference was held in the hotel’s off-season – which was perfect for us!


As I had reserved a room that was situated nowhere near our conference’s late-night hospitality room, the view from my room looked down into the entryway. Yet, the room also had this wonderful view off into the distance too.

One of the biggest values for me in attending the District Conferences is being able to hang out and learn from my mentor, Joe Grondin (who lives in Canada).

Joe also gave an amazing keynote first thing Sunday morning, called “Why Speak?”.

During the Awards Luncheon on Saturday, I received the 2017 Triple Crown (Repeat Achiever) award – “Triple Crown Repeaters.”

No pre-message was announced to ask picture-taking members of the audience to not block the views of the stage for the rest of the audience. So, as the “Triple Crown Repeater” awards were being announced, several people ran up to the front of the room all at once to take pictures.

Fortunately, the picture-takers eventually did step out of the view. Even so, one of the great things about Toastmasters is that, when situations like this happen, we use them as “learning opportunities” to know how to avoid such things in the future! By seeing how these kinds of things can unfold, future organizers / event planners of our conferences can know how to prevent them altogether.

It was an honor receving the award from Program Quality Director Malinda Regimbal.

As a Triple Crown Repeater (who has earned this seven times), this was my third time getting the “Triple Crown Repeater” Coffee Cup for it. This year, they changed the style of coffee cups from the last two years.

It is always a pleasure to stand on the District stage as one of the “Triple Crown Repeaters” next to my amazing mentor, Joe Grondin.

Indeed, it was a pleasure standing on the stage with Joe, with two brand new DTMs (Distinguished Toastmasters) Cheryl Grant (on the left) and Maureen McIntosh (on the right).

After the “Triple Crown Repeaters” filed off the stage, then all new first-time Triple Crown achievers were next up. From one of my own clubs, my friend and this year’s outgoing (in more ways than one!) Area 24 Director Chang Lin received his first-time Triple Crown award from Program Quality Director Malinda Regimbal, assisted by Club Growth Director Jeff Hebert. All first-time achievers receive a notebook, into which they can file future awards!

That evening (still Saturday, May 20, 2017), Chang Lin memorably performed the role of the Master of Ceremonies for the District Director’s Banquet.

I use the word, memorable, because he gave us a smiling memory that few of us will ever forget! After all of the District Leadership and our Conference’s VIP Keynoter, Jana Barnhill, were seated at their places at the head table for dinner, Chang placed something down on the edge of the table and…

CRASH!

Food and drink fell to the floor, as the legs on that side of the table were not stable.

Ever the leader, Chang Lin kept the audience positive and laughing while the fantastic serving crew quickly stepped in to replace the table and setup.

Even drink had ended up on the floor!

A new table was brought in – one with strong legs – and dinner carried on! This became a fond memory I shall not soon forget. I give major kudoes to Chang Lin for being such a smiling and positive leader throughout it all! Chang rocks.

And the rest of the evening went on awesomely. How could it not? Dessert was yummy!

The winners were announced for the District 45 International Speech Contest:
3rd Tom Dowd, 2nd Angi Francesco, and 1st Scott Green.
(This was the first year that Joe Grondin did NOT compete!)

And of course, we had the spitfire of a keynoter, Jana Barnhill – DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster), Top3 Finalist in not one, but two, WCPS (World Championship of Public Speaking) contests, and the fifth woman ever to earn the rare A.S. (Accredited Speaker) award.

Even though my laptop crashed back in my room at 1:00am, I was not going to let it affect me. I was up early and raring to go for the final activities of Sunday morning.

I had to be all suited up because I was competing in the District 45 Table Topics ® Contest.

The question was: Tell us something you planned that did not go according to plan.

And yes, I did all these mannerisms (and more!) in less than two and a half minutes!

As I was the next-to-last contestant, I did not get to see who or what I was up against. I would have certainly enjoyed seeing them as I am sure they were great. The winners of the contest were:
3rd Jose Zirena, 2nd Betsy Black, 1st Sharon Joseph.

Before bringing the Spring 2017 Conference to a close, the VIP Jana Barnhill installed the top District 45 leadership for the coming year. She even came equipped with a BLINGED out gavel!

The new District 45 Officers, effective July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018:
Immediate Past District Director Tom Goodwin
District Director Malinda Regimbal
Program Quality Director Jeff Hebert
Club Growth Director Shane Walsh
Public Relations Manager Jonathan Bohm

For me, above all the other awesome things about this Conference, the biggest value AND enjoyment for me were these three things.

1) Watching and learning from the superb leadership and outstanding presentations of VIP (a Very Important Person indeed), Jana Barnhill;

2) Hanging out with, learning from, and watching the presentation of my amazing mentor Joe Grondin;

And of course,

3) The absolute joy of speaking in front of the District myself!

On top of these three things (and so much more!), this was undoubtedly a valuable, fun, and productive time at the District 45 Toastmasters Conference at Sunday River in Newry, Maine, on May 19-21, 2017.