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By Patrick Locke, DTM, Area 84 Director
“Make it Matter.” Isn’t that something we all want? To “make it matter” is to
make a difference in our personal and professional lives while touching others.
Inspiring people in our spheres of influence while collectively increasing our
ability to communicate on higher levels. Did our experiences on November 6th
and 7th translate into personal growth? I believe that if you were there, you
gained from the experience!

                                        Beginning on Friday evening, November
6th, the room was filled with excitement in anticipation of hearing from
2012 World Champion Public Speaker Ryan Avery. We waited three
years for this, now only minutes away. Our own Ryan Avery was about
to share with us the exhilarating experience of winning the title. Ryan’s
theme for the evening was “little things make a big difference!” Ryan
shared with us how, when working at his job with Special Olympics,
he had sent an email with the subject line reading “Order your special
Olympic shirt now!” only to realize that the “r” had been left out of
“shirt.” Little thing, big difference, wouldn’t you agree? We chuckled
and laughed but everyone came away with increased insight.
We received many tidbits of wisdom that otherwise may have never
entered our consciousness. Ryan talked about removing two minor words from our vocabulary. He explained
how the words “just” and “only” were words which portrayed low confidence. Since then I have become hyper-
aware of these words and I have observed the behavior they support.
Another tidbit which was significant to me related to what Ryan called the “4 Q’s of meeting.” Why am I meeting?
What is one objective of the meeting? What are points or stories I can inject? And how much time do I have?
These may seem simple on the surface. However, when you consider them from a perspective of increasing and
maximizing your communication skills, there is another dimension brought into play. The richness of what Ryan
shared (coupled with his ability to inspire) made this evening a rich learning experience.
Saturday morning seven o’clock! Breakfast with fellow Toastmasters from every division in the district. Some
came from as far south as Northern California. From the North came members from Longview and Astoria -
a most diverse group of people from all walks of life. We conversed over breakfast as the hustle and bustle

                           of display setup created a special energy. There is Harvey Schowe. He always finds new
                           information about the history of District 7 and Toastmasters International. I wonder what
                           he found in the past six months to share with us. There is Maria Lee and crew setting up for
                           the prison raffle. Lots of jewelry and the ladies were taking notice. Everywhere people were
                           greeting friends as they arrived. Some of the speech contestants arrive. “You’re going to do
                           great,” I said to one. She looked around as if to say, “There are so many people… how will I
                           do this? I think, “This is going to be the most fun day you have ever experienced.”
                           As eight o’clock approached, everyone began migrating towards the auditorium. Greetings
                           were continuously exchanged as we move through corridors, stairways, and elevators. The
                           conference Toastmaster was none other than Libra Forde, our recent international speech
                           semi-finalist who performed so eloquently in Las Vegas. She was at her very best that day. At
                           six-foot-five, she is a most beautiful woman with a smile that melts hearts in a millisecond.
Hugs abounded as she flowed through the room waving and blowing a kiss here and there. It seemed like only
moments and then, it was time for the conference to begin.
Libra stepped to the stage, gazed at the audience and silence began to flow like a wave across this ocean of
people. Her opening comments were filled with the joy of the moment. Having taken care of logistics, it was
time to introduce the keynote speaker, Ryan Avery, who leaped to his feet and was instantaneously poised for
action. “Real Leaders Are Real Speakers: Communication Strategies All Leaders Should Know, But Most Don’t”
was the title of Ryan’s opening talk. He began with personal stories about how he came to compete for the

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