Challenge the Dragon: Impressions about District 59 Spring Conference 2014 in Krakow

by Tetyana Kisyelova, CC, Chamber Toastmasters

I always knew that Toastmasters is an international organization. From time to time I use my account at Toastmasters International website, I have a couple of foreign TM friends in FB, and meet some foreigners in our clubs. Know does not always mean feel. When I heard from my TM friends about European conferences in Poznan or Budapest, I decided to go sometime too.

This 2014 Spring Conference was in Krakow, a Polish city known for its breathtaking architecture, the river Vistula (aka Wisła) and a legend about the dragon defeated by a brave hero. Toastmasters conferences of different kinds are regularly held all over the world, but this one was for District 59, Continental Europe, and had several purposes:

  1. To elect new district team and district governor.
  2. Conduct International Speech contest in English whose winner will represent Continental Europe in the world final competition in Kuala Lumpur.
  3. Conduct speech contests in Polish, German and French, as well as evaluation contests.
  4. Share knowledge through keynote speaker addresses and workshops.
  5. Socialize.

The presence of half a thousand Toastmasters all over Europe impressed me. Below are my highlights in pictures that speak louder than words.

The conference place was just near Vistula. It rained all the time, and we could see how the river overflew the banks.


This gentleman in the left is a Distinguished Toastmaster from France. The red badge on his chest reads “I eat, sleep, live, love and breath TOASTMASTERS”.


We were honored to have Jock Elliott, the 2011 World Champion of public speaking. Here he is giving his famous talk ‘Swimming with Crocodiles’ which he used for 2011 semifinal. Personally I liked it even better than the victorious ‘Just So Lucky’. Jock also gave a master class on how to win the world championship and served as a chief judge during the European speech contest final.


Toastmasters all over Europe brought their club banners with them and hang them out above the stage. As the number of ribbons show, Munich Prostmasters was one of the most venerable clubs.


‘How to take charge of your own leadership growth – and maybe even get your next promotion faster’ by Serge Pegoff from Brussels, ‘Don’t let them steel your thunder’ by Jaroslav Kovac from Brno, ‘PowerPoint revisited – Transform your slides into visual stories’ by Kayley Peng from Karlsruhe, ‘Your Body Talks… all the time… and LOUD!’ by Tulia Lopes from Zurich – these were the workshop which I was lucky to attend, and I just loved them!


I volunteered to be a timer during a speech contest semifinal. It was a great experience because I overcame my fear of this responsibility and learnt some new things, e.g. there were two timers both of whom measured time but only one of them (me!) shown cards to the speaker.


After long working hours we took our time to socialize with toastmasters from other countries.


The Gala Dinner on the second night was an unforgettable experience. It started with a triumphant demonstration of flags of the present countries. I am sure that our blue and yellow bicolor will stay there soon too.


Many tables were set in a big hall, and you could see people wearing their national costumes.


The culmination of the evening was the European speech contest final. The second gentleman from the right, Bernard Sorosi (Switzerland), won.


The gentleman in the middle won the German speech contest.


On the last conference day the District 59 officially divided into two districts because more countries joined. Now District 59 and District 95 will represent Continental Europe in Toastmasters. The district governor introduced new teams of divisions and districts. This is where leaders are made!


Find 95 reasons to challenge the dragon and see you at Toastmasters District 95 Fall Conference 2014 Frankfurt, 14-16 November 2014.



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