District 91 Conference 2020 Embracing Change

Picture this: You’ve invested months in meticulous event planning, envisioning its triumph in a prestigious London hotel. Then, just over a month before the grand day, the world turns against you. That’s exactly how our team felt when COVID-19 was announced, hurling our carefully laid plans for District 91’s annual conference into chaos. Ticket sales halted, attendees clamoured for refunds, speakers cancelled, and the hotel adamantly refused a refund. A mere month before the conference, the team faced an agonising decision: to cancel the in-person event and replace it with an online conference—an unprecedented move. No one anticipated this curveball, but what unfolded was an incredibly gratifying journey filled with challenges, backstage camaraderie, and moments of profound pride amid the pandemic’s uncertainty. Little did we know, it would evolve into the largest Toastmasters conference ever held in Europe, drawing 840 attendees from 33 countries, defying all odds. It wasn’t a smooth ride, but our team’s resilience shone brilliantly. We recognised the significance of embracing innovation when giving up seemed the easier path. The experimentation phase was genuinely exhilarating, as if breaking new ground eliminated expectations, allowing us to fearlessly explore unconventional marketing campaigns and cutting-edge broadcasting technology integrated with Zoom. It was an electrifying journey! Our proudest moment arrived on the day when everything fell seamlessly into place. Twenty hours of high-pressure moments, a few minor hiccups we hope nobody noticed, and an overwhelming sense of accomplishment followed. Ultimately, our 2020 conference emerged as an extraordinary success born from adversity. It conveyed to us that preparation, experimentation, and teamwork can lead to remarkable triumphs. We hope that our story inspires you to view challenges as opportunities, conquer your fears, and never give up! Diana Robertson Conference Director 2020