Conference Breakout Topics / Speakers

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Conference Breakout Topics / Speakers

In addition to the keynote speech by the 2018 World Champion of Public Speaking, Ramona J. Smith, we will have two breakout sessions during our conference, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Each breakout will feature three speakers. You get to choose a breakout session in the morning and another one in the afternoon.

We will also have our first-ever conference “Power Hour.” It will be held at the same time as the Business Meeting and is perfect for our non-Toastmaster guests and those not carrying a vote. The topic is “Leadership Through Laughter.”  This session will be recorded and available after the conference for those who do not get a chance to attend it.

“Get Real!”
How to Bring Your Authentic Self to the Stage

Speaker: James Jeffley

What makes speeches memorable and speakers unforgettable?


In this thoughtful, provocative and experiential workshop, James Jeffley, a three-time District 57 International Speech Contest winner and two-time finalist at the World Championship of Public Speaking, shares:

  • How to discover your “authentic self”
  • Three ways to make your speeches memorable
  • His “secret sauce” for speaking authentically

James is a presentation skills & life coach, published author, musician and minister.

Pivot from Fear Into Natural Power

Speaker: Abigail Diaz Juan

Is FEAR slowing you down or stopping you from fulfilling your true desires in life, vocation and success? It’s a barrier that can overpower even the most courageous and spiritual! You can gracefully “pivot” from fear into your natural power, which gently guides you to your next intuitive step, without drama or force. Learn this fresh approach in Abigail’s session.

Abigail Diaz Juan is an international speaker, global citizen, venture capitalist, entrepreneur, women’s empowerment advocate, and the author of “How Me Found I: Mastering the Art of Pivoting gracefully Through Life.” She is also the founder of the Diamond Quest Company. She now pivots through her high-pressure world with flow and ease.

Persuade with a Story

Speaker: Henry DeVries

Henry DeVries is the CEO of Indie Books International, which has published more than 100 titles since he co-founded the company in 2014. In addition to speaking to thousands of business leaders each year, he writes a weekly column for

Henry believes nothing is as persuasive as storytelling with a purpose. At his session, you will learn the techniques of telling a great story employed by Hollywood, Madison Avenue and Wall Street. 

After attending his session, you will understand how to craft persuasive stories to effectively promote your ideas and your business, utilize the top eight-most psychologically powerful story formulas, and follow the three-step fast formula to promote your company, cause or career.

Video! How to Best Prepare for and Use It

Speakers: Ashley Harkness and Alan Zoraster

Video is used everywhere today. Whether you are recording a webinar or instructional video, meeting via video conference, or presenting in a TV studio, you need to appear poised and professional.

Ashley Harkness and Alan Zoraster are veterans of video and TV production, with years of experience with Toastmaster Time (District 57’s TV show), webinars, online meetings and other video productions.

In this session you will learn how to look and sound your best on video, regardless of the venue, which could vary from a video conference, remote training, your own business production or in a TV studio. Ashley and Alan will share real-life tips, examples and will address a number of topics, including: How do you make eye contact with the camera? What should you do when there isn’t an audience? What should you wear to look your best? You’re guaranteed to come away with a better understanding of how to best prepare for, and use, video.

Posture for Speakers

Speakers: Evelyn Hess and Steve Bollhoefer 

When you step on stage, the first thing your audience sees is your posture and presence. What do you look like? Have you ever noticed that you’re holding your breath while speaking? Do you want to have the easy, relatable movement and natural power you see in the best speakers?

Evelyn Hess has taught the Alexander Technique for over 15 years, and has a private practice in Oakland. As a violinist, Steve Bollhoefer became interested in posture and body mechanics. He began studying the Alexander Technique three years ago when he realized it was his true passion.

This workshop will be a hands-on, interactive place to recognize your habitual posture and tension while speaking. You will have the opportunity to get individual attention! You will learn your own habits and how to address them, as well as what truly good posture and natural presence looks and feels like. Let the great speaker that is inside you out! Release tension and stress in your body and embrace your natural true self.

The Audacity of HOPE

Have a BIG Dream, Overcome Obstacles, Perceive the Best, Expect to Receive

Speaker: Jeffrey Hatchell

Life is tough. It can beat us up and hurt us. In this session, Jeffrey Hatchell, an executive coach, corporate facilitator and motivational speaker, will share his experience and insights to overcome and leverage difficult experiences and maximize the current situation to set yourself up for success.

Jeffrey will share his personal journey and will empower you to see things from a fresh perspective. A perspective that will allow you to leverage seemingly negative experiences to propel yourself to success and happiness.

Jeffrey, who has coached mid- and senior-level executives and their teams in Fortune 500 organizations, will also include a values assessment to determine your top five values and big, hairy, audacious goals (BHAG).

Leadership Through Laughter

Speakers: Ray Engan, Cody Cotulla, Jon Lehre

From the floorboards of the stage, to the boardrooms in business, humor has always been our greatest asset to instantly connect and communicate in a memorable fashion. Come see how “Leadership through Laughter,” and creating connection through comedy can give you a more entertaining life… and maybe even make your dreams come true.

In this first-ever, district conference “Power Hour,” Ray Engan, Cody Cotulla and Jon Lehre will entertain us, make us laugh and show us how to be funny!

Ray Engan was a shy little boy who used to walk inside of his Mom’s wrap around skirts to avoid talking to strangers. He went on to a career in stand-up comedy, performing with and writing for some of America’s best comedians. Today he gives workshops around the country teaching America’s business leaders the value of humorous storytelling in the workplace. Ray is a past District 57 International Speech and Humorous Speech contests champion. 

Cody Cotulla has been in the army, worked as a stand-up comic and served as a Toastmasters Area Director. In 2015 and 2017 he won the District 4 Humorous Speech Contest. Cody is also a long-time husband and the parent of a teenager, who he believes will someday appreciate all the stories and jokes she’s had to listen to over the years.

Jon Lehre, a Toastmaster since 2013, hails from Santa Rosa and has performed comedy all over Northern California, including at The Punch Line, Cobb’s Comedy Club, Tommy T’s, numerous bars and taverns and participated in the 2018 Sacramento Comedy Competition. Jon competed at a Grand Slam for the storytelling group, The Moth, in 2018, and runs a popular monthly open mic comedy night in Sebastopol.