The north East Valley will be full of hot air this week. And not just because it’s the sizzling summer season.
Toastmasters International is taking over the JW Marriott Resort at Desert Ridge for an annual get-together.
Nearly 2,000 of the big talkers will be in town doing Board business, networking, listening to guest speakers from around the world and hosting an international speech contest.
While the average person may tremble at the thought of public speaking, about 10,000 vie for a spot in the limelight to be judged by their peers, said Suzanne Frey, Toastmasters spokeswoman.
Frey dubs the competition’s final heat, which will take place Saturday, the “Olympics of oratory.”
The average Toastmaster member is a corporate professional, aged 30 to mid-50s, she said. Toastmasters belong to more than 11,000 clubs in 91 countries, and the Valley alone lists 73 clubs that “all have their own personality,” she said.
The garrulous group picked the sprawling northeast Phoenix resort for their meeting, partly “because it’s drop-dead gorgeous,” Frey said.
But the JW Marriott got the nod mostly because Toastmaster events planner David Kull had set his sights on an Arizona location, and the Marriott was the only one big enough to handle the crowd, he said.
The 950-room resort has more rooms than any hotel in the state and a 200,000-square foot conference center, more than half of that meeting space indoors.
“We’ll use all of it,” Kull said. The group comes with about eight tons of stuff trucked in by two semis full of special lighting and audio equipment as well as a large retail component, he said.
The smooth talkers can speak on any subject for the competition, Frey said.
But it’s what they say when they leave that local tourism leaders are most interested in.
“We hope they spread the word about how great Phoenix is as a year-round destination,” said Doug McKenzie, spokesman for the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Some of the best facilities, conference rooms and amenities are here in August.”