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April 2024
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International Convention Through the Years

Discover fun facts and photos from past decades.

By Shannon Dewey

Black and white photo of women and children looking at the Gemini and Mercury space vehicles

Man in black suit holding a red baseball cap with international flags behind him
Man bending down to pick up suit jacket from the stage


82nd annual convention in Cincinnati, Ohio

  • George Yen, DTM, became the first International President from Taiwan.
  • Introvert expert Susan Cain was the 2013 Golden Gavel recipient.
  • Presiyan Vasilev made history as the first Bulgarian native to win the World Championship of Public Speaking® with his speech, “Changed By a Tire.”

Woman in white jacket speaking at lectern
Man smiling while holding ventriloquist dummy


72nd annual convention in Atlanta, Georgia

  • Debbi Fields Rose, founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies, was the Golden Gavel recipient for 2003.
  • Ted Corcoran, DTM, was installed as the new International President—the first from Ireland.
  • A ventriloquist entertained attendees during a Toastmasters toga party.

Man presenting trophy to contest winner onstage
Man and woman dressed in costume smiling and waving


62nd annual convention in Toronto, Canada

  • Otis Williams Jr. won first place in the World Championship. (Pictured receiving trophy from International President Neil Wilkinson, DTM.)
  • Members dressed up for themed events, including the Planet Toastmasters costume party.
  • Speeches from convention were made available for purchase on audio and video cassette.

Black and white photo of man speaking onstage
Black and white photo of group of people wearing leis with hands in air


52nd annual convention in San Diego, California

  • Roy Fenstermaker, 70 years old at the time, won the 1983 World Championship with his speech, “Retirement—Never!”
  • Members took an excursion to San Diego theme park Sea World to see a show with Shamu the Killer Whale.

Black and white photo of people walking onto the S.S. Admiral in Missouri
Black and white photo of women and children looking at the Gemini and Mercury space vehicles


32nd annual convention in St. Louis, Missouri

  • Toastmasters founder Dr. Ralph C. Smedley was one of the main convention speakers.
  • Over 800 Toastmasters and their families cruised down the river on the S.S. Admiral.
  • The Gemini and Mercury space vehicles were placed in the hotel lobby as a tribute to four Toastmasters astronauts.


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