Behind the scenes of organizing First International contest among Toastmasters #TOCA2018

In November 2017 I declared I would like to organize speech contest in the framework of High Performance leadership project.
The idea to organize the Toastmasters Open Central Asia speech contest at a global level came up to me, when I was watching for 100th time the speech of famous public speaker and winner of World Championship of Public speaking 2014 – Dananjaya Hettiarachchi. My idea to unite Toastmasters from other clubs of not only Kazakhstan, but also from Central Asia and neighboring countries has become my dream for the last four months.

The next step was to recruit Guidance committee and Organizing committee, according HPL manual. Thanks to Indira Kyilybayeva and Korlan Bektassova for supporting my idea and guiding me throughout the project.

After presenting my dream at one of ATC meetings, new members of our club Aigerim Seitenova and Kuanysh Sadykov enthusiastically joined my organizing team, although they did not know anything about HPL or contest. Thus, it brought me more confidence and motivation to continue pursuing my dream.
Thanks to Officers’ team Kanat Bazaraly, Saule Temirbayeva and Alisher Tazhinov for instantly supporting this idea.
From December 2017, we started to meet almost every two weeks in order to make the contest a success.
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The first challenge – Inviting speakers.
It was a challenge to bring speakers from other cities and countries. Via official letters and channels, I sent 30 letters to official Toastmasters’ clubs in Moscow, Kiev, Dubai, Saint Petersburg, Istanbul and Kuala Lumpur. We invited all to make sure some of them would confirm =)

Thanks to Toastmasters’ values and mission, speakers from Almaty, Atyrau, Bishkek and Moscow supported our idea and confirmed in December. Thanks to Mikhail Pokrutnyi who attended our meeting during his business trip and later on he helped us to persuade speakers from Moscow to come.

One of our organizing member and well-known as Treasurer Alisher Tazhinov flew to Dubai for a vacation and had a chance to attend one of 90 Toastmasters clubs in Dubai. He communicated our vision of uniting Toastmasters in Astana. We had been waiting for an about a month before our speaker from Dubai confirmed her participation.
There was a difficulty in organizing a visa for her. Thanks to Asset Omirzhanov and Alisher Tazhinov for arranging a visa for her. I would never forget how many days Asset was sitting to get a letter from immigration police. I would never forget how Alisher talked to the General Council of Kazakhstan in Dubai to ask him to accept the documents. I would never forget how many calls I had with Rizwana to persuade her to come.

In the end we had 6 brilliant speakers from 6 gorgeous cities:

The first place winner – Vladislav Son from Almaty Toastmasters club (speech title: Hi, my name is Vlad)
The second place winner – Asset Omirzhanov from Astana Toastmasters club (speech title: Eternal dream and perished flesh)
The third place winner – Rizwana Buch from Burj Toastmasters club and Desert Voices Toastmasters club (speech title: My hero)
The speaker – Sergey Saprykin from World Surfers club (speech title: Larger than life)
The speaker – Valeriya Nabatova from Atyrau Toastmasters club (speech title: A true story of the camel lady)
The speaker – Nursultan Sulaimanov from Bishkek Toastmasters club (Love Requires Sacrifice)

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The second challenge – Panel of judges
Our idea was to find an unbiased panel of judges, consisting of 5 people. I and Saule were in charge of finding good judges with either Toastmasters or public speaking experience. When we had a meeting with our partner PwC Kazakhstan, Kanat suggested to invite very experienced judge Director of Advisory – Mr. Michael Adams.

Afterwards, we contacted Ambassador of Ted Talks – Mr. Larissa Pak. She was very enthusiastic about Toastmasters. However, she had some other commitments. I did not stop contacting and calling her. In the end, it all paid off. She came and said: “Aigerim, without your stubbornness, I would not come to the contest”.

Saule invited Ms. Valentina Boroda, who came specifically to Astana to be the judge of the contest. Thanks to Saule persistence. Valentina has a Toastmasters experience, which was very valuable during the contest.

We also invited Professor of Nazarbayev University, who has a great public speaking experience and academic writing, Mr. Lawrence Meztger. He instantly supported our idea.
Thanks to our partner the U.S. mission to Kazakhstan, in particular Zarina Karimova and Aidana Kenesbayeva, for their help to find a judge. Our judge Ms. Heather Priest has a valuable experience in art and costumes.

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The third challenge
For all Toastmasters clubs it is always a challenge to find a good equipped venue. As the aim of Toastmasters Open Central Asia speech contest set a high standard, we had to find a nice, big and well-equipped room. Thanks to our partner Forte Bank. Director of marketing Mr. Anton Kim instantly replied to my message in FB and gave his agreement during the meeting.
Our challenge was waiting for us, when we saw 150 registered people in google form sent before. We started to talk to the Forte Bank administration, who restricted the venue capacity to only 90 people. As all of our organizing committee members are solution-orientated, we found a solution to hold a live-video of the contest on the first floor – La Tartine café. La Tartine there does not work on weekend, so it took us efforts to persuade them. Thanks to VP PR Ainur Kartayeva for translating the video.
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The fourth challenge
PUT ALL THESE CHALLENGES WE FACED IN ONE WRITTEN MESSAGE)))

Results
As a result of overcoming all the challenges, we brought history to life by organizing the First International contest among Toastmasters – Toastmasters Open Central Asia speech contest on 31st of March 2018.
• It brought 100 guests and toastmasters.
• We had 5 experienced and well-known judges.
• 3 amazing partners supported us: The U.S. Mission to Kazakhstan, PwC Kazakhstan and Forte Bank
• Uniting 6 cities and 8 Toastmasters clubs: Almaty Toastmasters club, Astana Toastmasters club, Atyrau Toastmasters, Bishkek Toastmasters club, Burj Toastmasters club, Desert Voices Toastmasters club in Dubai, World Surfers in Moscow and Vienna Speakers club.
• Future cooperation and collaboration with abovementioned clubs
• Reminding of Toastmasters’ vision, mission and core values
• 6 breathtaking stories that touched the hearts of the audience
• Successful organization of social outing – delicious lunch, nice city tour and long warm conversations

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I would like to thank every speaker for touching our hearts for many years. I am thanking our partners for supporting us. I am sincerely thanking panel of judges for sharing their experience and wisdom to find out the best storyteller. I am thanking all ATC members who helped us to make the contest a success, in particular Almat Zhuvashev, Ainur Kartayeva, Nasipzhan Koshanova, Aiymgul Yklassova, Raushan Satibaldiyeva, Assiya Babayeva, Aizhan Zhumabayeva.

I sincerely thank my husband for all his support and motivation.

A million thanks to my organizing committee for putting their heart and effort to make the contest a huge success. YOU ARE MY HEROES. (Kanat, Saule, Aigerim, Alisher, Kuanysh)

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P.s. you can find all photos via this link photos
and video of our brilliant speakers via this link videos

With all my heart
Sincerely yours,

Leader of the #TOCA2018 and Secretary of ATC – Aigerim Akiltayeva

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