Toastmasters District 17 Convention 2017

  • Country: Australia
  • Location: Fremantle
  • Venue: Tradewinds
  • Date: 26 - 28st May 2017

  • Intl President 2016-2017: Mike Storkey, DTM
  • International Director 2016-2018, Region 12: David Fisher, DTM
  • District 17 Director 2016-2017: Leonor Ragan, DTM
  • Organising Chairman: Ross Wilkinson, DTM PDG

Overall Rating

Read today's blog post to find out why I attended the Toastmasters District 17 Convention 2017, what I learned from the experience, and what you can learn from it too!



Key Note Speakers




Why did I attend the Toastmasters District 17 Convention 2017?

I have been attending D17 Toastmasters Conferences since 2014.  In 2014 I developed my love of Toastmasters speech competitions.  I came third in the District Table Topics competition.  There are many other benefits from attending though.

In 2014 the Keynote Speaker was Olivia Schofield, the Top woman speaker in the 2011 World Championship of Public Speaking.  She was an inspiration.  She demonstrated how there are many different levels of public speaking, and mastering them all is a journey that is fun to embrace.   I was hooked and wanted to learn everything I could.

In 2015, the Keynote Speaker at the D17 2017 Annual Conference was Ryan Avery, 2012 World Champion of Public Speaking.  I made it through to the District Final of the Humorous competition and won the District Table Topics competition.  More importantly, Ryan inspired me to start my own Toastmasters Club.  Competitive Speakers Perth celebrated its first birthday since chartering in May 2017.

In 2016, the Keynote Speaker was Mark Brown, 1995 World Champion of Public Speaking.  Not only is Mark Brown a World Champion, but he was also the coach of Darren LaCroix, 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking.  Mark infused his speeches with so much emotion; a tissue had to be passed to an attendee as Mark told a story about his Father.  He is a master of communication.

The District 17 Convention 2017 promised to be a little different - but equally valuable.  Rather than one guest speaker, we had eight speakers, including our Keynote Speaker, Gary Schmidt DTM PIP, International President of Toastmasters International in 2009 - 2010

Event Statistics

  • Number of Conference Attendees > 100
  • Number of Clubs in District = 87
  • Number of Members in District = 1,434
  • Number of People on Organising Committee = 9, not including members currently serving in District Roles
  • Home Club - Fremantle Gateway
  • Conference Website
What did I learn from the Toastmasters District 17 Convention 2017?

The District 17 Leaders decided to include six workshops this year, over two sessions.  Three workshops ran concurrently in each session.  These focussed on speaking skills and techniques.  On top of this, there was a leadership Masterclass.

This idea of having several speakers was a significant change to the one speaker approach of previous years.  While none of the speakers had the badge of honour of being a past World Champion or World Champion of Public Speaking Finalist, the variation gave the conference a balanced feel to it and ensured that there was something for everyone.

Then there were the competitions.  I have tremendous respect for all speech competition contestants.  At this Toastmasters District 17 Convention 2017, I'd like to single out three competitors.

The first of these has featured in District Finals before, but this year demonstrated significant improvement.  This growth was reflected in the results too, as she won the Table Topics competition, came second in the Humorous contest and performed well in the International competition, although didn't place.  I chatted to Janette Edwards to find out what she thought was the secret to her improvement.

"There have been a number of significant changes I have made over the last year that I feel have helped me improve in my speeches. I have five key strategies.

  • Get a mentor
  • Go back to the basics
  • Let go of material
  • Stage time, stage time, stage time, feedback, feedback, feedback!
  • Be yourself
Janette Edwards
Janette Edwards

I also spoke to Christina Millingalle, who won the International Speech competition.  She entered the International Speech competition for the first time this year and has only been a member of Toastmasters for a few months.  I asked her what she thought was the secret to her success.

"I didn't even contemplate the idea of winning.  I came into the competition with the attitude that I was just giving another speech.  I was very surprised and grateful to win!"

Cristina Millingale
Christina Millingalle

Lizeth D. Ruiz came second in the International Speech competition.  Lizeth had never entered the International Speech contest before either.  She is a member of one of the most remote Toastmasters clubs in the world, Karratha Toastmasters club, and flew down especially for the event.  I asked her what drove her determination, considering she had to travel a long way to compete at Area, Division and District levels of the competition.

"In Toastmasters I have learnt to push out of my comfort zone, to try new challenges; regardless of what they entail.

Every time I have done so, I have found a supporting and constructive environment celebrating my achievements with me.  When you are surrounded by people who want you to be successful; why would you not give it a go?

That was what my fellow Toastmasters did and that was exactly what I did by taking part in the International Speech Competition."

Lizeth D. Ruiz

Lizeth D. Ruiz

District 17 Convention 2017

Key Note Speakers

  • Cr Ingrid Waltham - City of Fremantle, Deputy Mayor
  • Gary Schmidt DTM PIP - International President of Toastmasters International, 2009-10

Value Bomb - Gary Schmidt

3 Secret of Successful Leaders

  • Building Personal Relationships - because you want to, not because you want something.
  • Communication - building commitment with your team, by earning the respect of your team.
  • Be a Service Leader - you will achieve every goal for yourself when you focus on others.

District 17 Convention 2017

Workshop 1 Speakers

Research findings show that we can often completely ignore the content of discussions and use only the visible social signals to predict the outcome of a negotiation or a sales pitch.

What impact does this have for us on a stage?  How do we consciously use body language to reinforce our message?​

Topics covered were an introduction to vocal health, the Six Areas of Relaxation, posture, breath and 'the breathy sigh.'

​This technique improves vocal sound, stamina and longevity; can refine an established vocal technique; preserves the voice in the classroom/work- space/office; eliminates vocal pain; and allows the user to sing and speak with freedom.

  • John Scotland - "Become your own Teamwork guru.  Conquer dysfunction and create a high performing team."

Each leader and team member must be a team performance guru, and like any activity at which we want to excel, we need to identify those things that are essential for high performance get them right and practice the every day.  These are not always easy things to do.  They are about our fears, our habits and lack of understanding.

So what causes team dysfunction and how can I deal with them?

Value Bomb - Patricia Alessi

Water, Water, Water

  • Your Vocal cords need to be well-lubricated with a thin layer of mucus ('mucosal wave') to vibrate efficiently.
  • Drinking water can achieve this lubrication.  If you have healthy kidneys/heart function, drink at least 2 litres of water a day.
  • Dr Van. Lawrence, world renowned ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist says "drink until you pee pale".

District 17 Convention 2017

Workshop 2 Speakers

Our life story provides the context for our experiences, and through this, we find our inspiration to make an impact in the world and find our passion for leading.

Our ability to achieve greatness as leaders hinges on our ability to know ourselves, know what matters and act in accordance with who we are as people

Contest speeches are not your ordinary speech; they have traits that you need to understand to make sure you know what it takes to speak at the highest level within Toastmasters.  That's from before you walk on the stage until you walk off.

​​Peter shared insights, knowledge and tips that he has learned on his journey and what it takes to deliver contest level speeches that connect and have impact consistently.

  • Karen Robinson - "Your Personal Style."

At its core, leadership influence has three critical ingredients:

    • A message that 'makes sense to the head and appeals to the heart'.
    • A clear understanding of the different 'needs' of those being influences.
    • Authenticity in the leader delivering the message.

Value Bomb - Peter Law

Look for opportunities to refine your speech all the time.

  • It's not about the speaker; it's about the audience
  • Your job as a speaker is to create interest and impact.
  • "Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world" Robert McKee

District 17 Convention 2017


  • Dr Troy Hendrickson - "Leadership lessons, links and learning from Cirque du Soleil."

What if the impact from your presentation(s) was like a Cirque du Soleil show?  ...Participants wanted (and needed) to BE THERE to experience it because a description or summary would just not be adequate.

    • How do you communicate, connect, relate and influence others?
    • What are the traits of "STICKY" messages
    • How can these features seamlessly be incorporated into your speeches or presentations?
    • What can be learned from Cirque du Soleil about how to turn our speeches into 'experiences' rather that mandatory attendance functions

Value Bomb - Troy Hendrickson

The 6 Traits of Sticky Ideas

  • Simple - Gets you focussed.
  • Unexpected - Gets people's attention.
  • Concrete - Helps people understand and remember.
  • Credible - Convinces people to believe.
  • Emotional - Makes people care.
  • Stories - Spur people to act.
  • Smile - Warms and connects you.

Next Week - District 17 Convention 2017 Competitor Insights!

Sign up for my free e-book below to make sure you don't miss out on future blog posts!

Did You Attend This Conference? 

If you attended this conference, I'd love to hear what you learned from the experience.

Please comment below!

Sharing is Caring!
Martin J O'Connor

In 2015, Martin was the District 17 Toastmasters Table Topics Champion and came third in 2014. He was in the District 17 final of the Humorous competition in 2015 and is in the District 17 final of the Evaluation competition in 2017. He is very proud to be a founding member of Competitive Speakers Perth Toastmasters club.