The Belfast Experience

By | December 22, 2014
By Mairead Haugh

After two false starts I finally arrived in Carrickmines, where my lift awaited me. Larry Power had kindly offered to give me a lift to Toastmasters International District 71 conference in Belfast on 7-9 November 2014.

We hurried up the M1 at great speed, my capable companion and driver wasted no time and arrived at the Europa Hotel at approx. 6.30. We were not sure where to park the car, but were delighted to hear the hotel staff would park it in their overnight car park for a reasonable fee. After checking in and a quick change of clothes we met again in the bar to quench our thirst after the speedy journey. We were not long in the bar when William Killeen arrived in to help us order a second round. He appeared relaxed and as had arrived a bit earlier and was excited at the prospect of the final of the humorous speech competition the next day.

We then attended the buffet dinner where a roomful of Toastmasters were settling in for the evening. The buffet was basic but hit the spot. The Evening commenced with a question and answer session hosted by the Area Governors for District 71. A question from the floor highlighted the difficulty where a club splits.  One recommendation from the top table suggested not hosting both clubs in the same venue; this is of particular interest to Dublin 18 and Dublin South Toastmasters clubs as we both meet on alternative Tuesday evenings in the same venue.


The Grand Ballroom at the Europa Hotel, Belfast

We’re obviously the exception to the rule. Hopefully we’ll keep the close link we have, and continue supporting each other.

The evening’s entertainment was a local Irish Dance school who took us though some of the steps from Riverdance and Lord of The Dance. An excellent show with participants from age 8 to age 18.

The weekend comprised of workshops and two Competitions, The Humorous Speech Competition and The Table Topics Competition. As I was only staying for 24 hours I did not have time to attend any of the workshops, but had the privilege and excitement of attending The Final of the Humorous Speech Competition, where William Killeen represented us with his fantastic Speech ‘ The Aqua Park ‘.

Toastmasters International District 71 Conferences are fantastic events, I attended one day and met so many interesting, positive, friendly and empowered people. The next Conference is on May 15-17 2015 in Nottingham, so book your place now!

According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than delivering the eulogy.”

– Jerry Seinfeld (Comedian)