Members of an international group devoted to public speaking are meeting in Fort Dodge this weekend for their annual spring conference.
The Toastmasters District 19 spring conference, which began Friday afternoon at the Best Western Starlite Village Inn and Suites, attracted presenters, speakers and anybody else who was interested in attending.
Distinguished Toastmaster Jacque Johanson said many different events go on at a spring conference, all of which are required for Toastmasters groups.
"There's lots of education and lots of presentations," Johanson said. "We have our business meeting and the election of new officers, and we also have speech contests."
In one contest, participants are given 30 seconds to prepare for a 30-minute speech on a topic they've been given. The winner of that contest moves on to the semi-finals, and from there they can move on to the international conference in Ohio.
"The contestant really needs to rock somebody's world," Johanson said.
She added that it's been more than 10 years since the spring conference was held in Fort Dodge. Toastmasters held one in town back in 2001, and were planning on having it in Fort Dodge again in 2008, but there was a conflict.
The weekend's agenda includes a number of speakers.
"We're going to have a trainer come up and give the attendees a class on how to become a trainer," Johanson said. "There's also going to be a one-hour presentation on thinking outside of the box."
Toastmasters International Director Pat Hannan gave a presentation Friday afternoon and was set to give a keynote address today.
"I will be presenting a session about managing personal roles within an organization," Hannan said Friday. "Later on I'll be doing a keynote to the Toastmasters on why people come and why they stay."
"One reason they stay is because of the deep friendships they've made that they wouldn't have otherwise," she said.
Hannan said most of Friday was spent speaking with different members of the Fort Dodge community.
"We've been running all over talking about what Toastmasters can bring to them," she said. "Fort Dodge has a large community and is way underserved. We have one Toastmasters club, but I'd love to see that change to four or five."
Regarding the conference, Johanson said she was hopeful those in attendance would gain new knowledge.
"I'm hoping people take home lots of information that they can then turn around and use the next day," Johanson said. "It's about positive changes. I get a big smile because everybody gets to meet new Toastmasters friends and get reacquainted with people they've met before."
She added that meetings are held every Tuesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Iowa Central Community College's fitness center and anybody is welcome to attend.
"If everybody would take part in Toastmasters, we wouldn't have all the problems we have in the world," Johanson said. "I truly mean that."