Musings from the Conference Chairs

It is now just one week since we wrapped up the final closing ceremonies of the District 21 Fall Conference. How can it be that something that began as a seed of an idea at this time last year, and has taken the full year to plan, visualize, organize and orchestrate, can now be over?

And yet, it’s not really over, is it?  When a team comes together with a clear vision, and that vision is realized regardless of the obstacles, hurdles, and hard work to keep it alive, the after-glow sticks around, the learning lingers.  

Phyllis and I had a very clear vision for the District 21 Fall Conference. Our mission was to create a Fall Conference that was unspecified-2different from some of the others we had attended. We wanted to bring it to Tigh Na Mara Resort & Spa in Parksville, where attendees could enjoy the oceanside setting in a beautiful forest, the little log cabins with fireplaces, access to the Grotto Spa. We wanted spaces in the agenda so that Toastmasters could talk to each other, get to know each other, spend time together. Our mandate was to have Toastmasters connect with each other, be inspired by the surroundings, the speakers, the learning, and the food. And we wanted to ensure that everyone enjoyed themselves and raved about this conference.

I have to be honest, there were many times in the planning stages that it felt as though the District council did not fully embrace our vision and it was a learning process for us all to be mindful of both the District’s needs and our own vision, whilst working together focussed on the common purpose of serving the Toastmaster members. The organization of the conference was not without tension, and I don’t imagine planning a conference ever is. In the end, I believe that communication, compromise, teamwork and understanding on the part of the conference chairs, our PQD John Sherber, and the conference team, prevailed to keep us all on track and the result was a fabulous event.

Would I do this again? Well, never say never. It was a huge and arduous undertaking for the whole team, who committed countless hours and support. I can honestly say it was a labour of love for me and it’s still too soon to articulate all the lessons learned. I would absolutely, unequivocally encourage all of you to consider taking this job on at some point in your Toastmaster career. You do not have to have an abundance of experience – there are lots of people out there who are willing to mentor and support you. The skills acquired will follow you out into the real world; organization, team work, facilitating, negotiating, project management, leading. The work is hard and the rewards are great. Will I do this again? Not right away……I am just going to let the whole experience sink in for awhile…..

Kristin Nickells, DTM

D21 Fall Conference 2016 Co-Chair