Did you miss the 2014 International Convention? Or do you want to experience it all again? Sign up for Toastmasters On Demand, an easy-to-use website where you can pay to watch convention events instantly on any device with Internet. You can also buy a DVD of the World Championship of Public Speaking from the site.
The 2014 title was awarded to Dananjaya Hettiarachchi from Nawala Rajagiriya, Sri Lanka, with his winning speech, “I See Something.” Watch video clips from Mr. Hettiarachchi’s speech. Second- and third-place winners were, respectively, Kwong Yue Yang from Guangzhou, China, with his speech, “Four Words” and Kelly Sargeant from Houston, Texas, with her speech, “Good Bye Wi-Fi.” View the full list of finalists at www.toastmasters.org/semifinals.
Public speaking can be terrifying for many people simply because they’re not accustomed to having a room full of people paying attention to their every word and action. There are also plenty of people brimming with self-confidence who, due to a lack of practice or preparation, give a presentation that doesn’t connect. In both cases, the result is a wasted opportunity to teach your employees, impress your boss, or win over clients.
To find out how to give an excellent presentation, we turned to one of the best public speakers in the world, Sri Lankan human resources consultant Dananjaya Hettiarachchi, recently crowned the World Champion of Public Speaking by Toastmasters International. Hettiarachchi survived seven rounds of a competition that lasted six months and included 33,000 competitors from around the world.
He and eight other finalists competed at the Toastmasters annual convention last month in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. On Aug. 23, Hettiarachchi took first place for his speech “I See Something,” which clocked in at seven minutes and 20 seconds.
Below, he shares his best advice for novice public speakers:
1. Always start with a message.
Hettiarachchi says that a common mistake beginners make when crafting their speeches is by starting with a topic. Instead, he says you should begin with a message, and it should be as concise as possible. This message is whatever you want your audience to be thinking about when your presentation concludes.
For example, the message of the speech that brought him through the semifinals, “Deadly Samba,” was: “If you don’t burn for your dream, your dream will burn away.”
He says that there are two approaches to developing a speech. In the first, you write your speech as an essay and practice it until it becomes memorized and conversational. The second, which he prefers, is starting with a speech off the top of your head and then refining it until you are happy with writing it down.
With a recorder in hand, Hettiarachi will focus on a message and then begin speaking spontaneously. He’ll listen back to his speech, making note of what needs improvement and then begin again.
2. Be confident enough to be yourself.
“You need to sell yourself before you sell your message,” Hettiarachi says. And the way to do that is by being genuine, which Hettiarachi admits is easier said than done. “It took me 10 years to learn to be myself on stage,” he says, laughing.
Hettiarachi entered the Toastmasters contest every year for the past 10 years, reaching the semifinals four times, but didn’t make the finals, he explains, until he stopped behaving as if he were an actor on stage. A speech should be conversational, not theatrical, he says.
Sure, he understands the value of using a prop like a flower to add drama to his words, as he did in the finals, but he did so in a way that engaged the audience rather than focusing the attention on himself.
The only way to go in front of an audience and to present in a way that isn’t simply miming is to practice again and again, pretending (if need be) that you’re talking to a room full of your closest friends.
Hettiarachchi with his championship trophy.
3. See yourself through your audience’s eyes.
Novice speakers tend to become wrapped up in themselves, which may just be because they’re afraid to acknowledge a room full of listeners. But if you’re going to speak, you need to realize that you’re doing it for the benefit of others, not yourself.
Hettiarachi’s championship speech “I See Something” began its life as a 20-minute TEDxYouth talk. It was a talk that he gave about 90 times, he says, and each minute of the personal story he told about going from a wayward child to an adult who wishes to inspire others seemed important to him. But then he went back and tried to imagine what information was essential to communicate his message and was able to cut it down to 10 minutes.
To make Toastmasters’ regulation time of seven minutes and 30 seconds, he imagined being an audience member who knew nothing about his life and cut away whatever they did not need to hear.
He uses this mindset to keep his audience guessing. He has a rule where he will not communicate a lesson for longer than 30 seconds, since the focus should be on storytelling.
In “I See Something,” Hettiarachchi tells the story of his mother picking him up from jail when he was a teenager. Within the span of 20 seconds, which you can see in the video excerpt below, he gets the audience to answer a question, makes them laugh, and then suddenly brings them into somber territory.
“A speech has to be like a roller coaster,” he says.
4. Have a forum to practice.
Eighty percent of the path to becoming a great speaker is trial and error, Hettiarachchi explains, and the only way to learn is by speaking in front of an audience that will give honest feedback.
It’s why he says he has enjoyed giving speeches at schools, since children often react honestly, unrestrained by etiquette.
For Hettiarachchi, his Toastmasters group provided a place to grow as a speaker, but he says any kind of similar forum is suitable, because like any skill, you must practice public speaking to become and then stay great at it.
5. Find the right coach or mentor.
And finally, Hettiarachchi says, you should find someone willing to help you grow as a public speaker. Interestingly, this does not need to be someone who can teach you advanced speaking techniques; they just need to be someone who “gives you permission to explore possibilities, who gives you permission to fail,” he says.
Hettiarachchi has had several mentors in his life, including Arunasalam Balraj, whom he met through Toastmasters. He considers him like a second father, and was privileged to win the speaking championship on the day Balraj was elected second vice president of Toastmasters International.
The path to becoming a great public speaker is the path to becoming comfortable with sharing who you are with other people, and a coach or mentor who understands you personally can help push you toward this goal.
Watch a short collection of clips from Hettiarachchi’s winning speech, “I See Something”: http://www.businessinsider.com/public-speaking-tips-champion-dananjaya-hettiarachchi-2014-9
If yes, then watch this video on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WStG9TnG0Gw#t=453
It will help you better understand what happens during a meeting, and how you can benefit from this experience.
Viviana and Wolfgang “broke the ice”. Congratulations on your first prepared speeches!
Wolfgang during his talk “Why I love to be outdoors?” described vividly his last mountain trip. I believe that everybody could feel the cold, wind in hair, freedom and happiness coming from observing the beauty of nature.
“It’s all about” was the title of Viviana’s speech. In just a few minutes she managed to walk us through many important moments from her life. We learned how to easily remember the name of the city she comes from, why she was training judo, why she became an engineer, and which cold beverages she likes the most.
See you on 22nd September…the much-awaited contest day!
We met at Alex Cafe (Ludwigshafen) to discuss a bunch of topics. The most important point was our first club contest. Exciting! Its goal besides having fun is to choose club members who will represent BASF Toastmasters during the next Toastmasters Area Contest (11th of October, Heidelberg). Another hot topic was the promotion of the club within BASF organization. We’ll let you know soon more details!
In September 2013 a group of BASF employees started to have Toastmasters meetings at The Chemical Company. Thanks to the support of the established Clubs Mannheim International Toastmasters, Rhetorikclub Mannheim and Heidelberg International Toastmasters from the very beginning professional meetings could take place. In June 2014 BASF Toastmasters was officially chartered as a regular club, the only “Company Club” of Toastmasters in Germany at the moment. From now on every member will benifit from all the advantages that the organisation of Toastmasters International can offer.
Leading BASF Toastmasters in 2014|2015 (left to right): Martin, Gabriela, Joanna, Hye-Jin (VP Membership until Oct 2014), Subhi, Ben, Nok-Young.
Club Executive Committee, feel free to contact usª:
President: Martin Ernst
VP Education: Subhamoy Bhattacharya
VP Membership: Kathrin Isenbügel
VP Public Relations: Joanna Martyna Krawczyk
Club Secretary: Gabriela Fonseca
Treasurer: Nok-Young Choi
Sergeant at Arms: Ben Kan
Immediate Past President: —
ªAccess to BASF intranet required, alternatively use the contact form.
The “Joke of th Evening” is part of most Toastmasters meetings. It’s an oportunity to train your skill in providng BASF Toastmasters Germany presentation joke fun comedy blog public speaking formulahumor to the audience. Many jokes consist of one finishing punchline. At BASF Toastmasters we recently had a different kind of presentation. Kathrin Isenhuegel, members of our BASF Toastmasters, presented a joke in comedy style with contradicting comparisons about everyday people where the audience saw themselves in both, the set-up and the punch lines.
Two new additions to the periodic table of elements
Element Name: WOMANIUM
Atomic Weight: (don’t even go there)
Physical properties: Generally soft and round in form. Boils at nothing and may freeze any time. Melts when treated properly. Very bitter if not used well.
Chemical properties: Very active. Highly unstable. Possesses Strong affinity with gold, silver, platinum, and precious stones. Violent when left alone. Able to absorb great amounts of exotic food. Turns slightly green when placed next to a better specimen.
Usage: Highly ornamental. An extremely good catalyst for dispersion of wealth. Probably the most powerful income reducing agent known.
Caution: Highly explosive in inexperienced hands!
Element Name: MANIUM
Atomic Weight: (180 +/- 50)
Physical properties: Solid at room temperature, but gets bent out of shape easily. Fairly dense and sometimes flaky. Difficult to find a pure sample. Due to rust, aging samples are unable to conduct Electricity as easily as younger samples.
Chemical properties: Attempts to bond with WO any chance it can get. Also tends to form strong bonds with itself. Becomes explosive when mixed with KD (Element: CHILDIUM) for prolonged periods of time. Neutralize by saturating with alcohol.
Usage: None known. Possibly good methane source. Good samples are able to produce large quantities on command.
Caution: In the absence of WO, this element rapidly decomposes and begins to smell.
sources: http://www.jokebuddha.com, Tim Reckmann / pixelio.de
As a speaker you try to convince the audience of your opinion. They should agree to the major views of the speech. Apart from the contents there are certain techniques that can be uses for to create a feeling of firm conviction. Proceeding one of the previous posts I’d like to give some more suggestions that are based on Robert Cialdini’s principles of persuasion.
Liking or “just be nice”
Have you heard that a waiter in a restaurant can increase the tip simply by adding another peppermint sweet to the bill in front of the customers? Showing sympathy to someone increases your chance that she / he will agree with your own needs. So try to buil a good relationship to your audience. How can you do so if you have just limited time in your speach? Some ideas:
- use positive body language techniques,
- share something personal with the audience that makes them feel special
- show appreciation that people came along to listen to your speech.
Authority or “the prove by power”
Usually we tend to follow people in positions of authority, we feel more obliget to accept what they say. Most of us will do what our managers request us to do or agree with someone who is in a high position.
For this reason try to find a prominent and outstanding personality of your point of view or your proposal. Got a quote or an example given or experience by a well known person with best reputation? Brilliant — take her / him to strengthen your thesis.
Scarcity or “now or never”
If people have the feeling that they might miss something if not acting immediately they decide quicker. To pile pressure on customers limited stock or closing dates for special offers are announced to gain a buying decision on the spot. That way you can influence your audience if you expect them to support your idea or project. By exposing an urgent problem that can (only) be solved by your suggestion your audience will likely agree. When speaking in front of a decision-making body point out the need for a clear and positive decision.
Give it a try, working with the specified techniques will make the audience agree to the strong points and ideas of your speech!
Jetti Kuhlemann / pixelio.de
Tim Reckmann / pixelio.de
A post by our co-blogger and member of BASF Toastmasters Subhamoy Bhattacharya.
Quite aptly the first speech for a new member in a Toastmasters Club is called “The Ice Breaker“. The competent communication manual mentions that in this “project” the speaker introduces him/herself to the audience and also gives them some information about his/her ambitions/interests and background. Below are some excerpts from the speech I delivered which might be helpful for some future Ice Breakers 🙂
Since I find it a bit awkward in general speaking about “myself” (maybe its a cultural aspect I am still to overcome), I decided to narrate a few anecdotes from my life and in the process outline my experiments with public speaking in the short 6 minute speech cryptically titled: P.S. I Love You
My first experience in public speaking came at the early age of a few days. A week after my birth I was “displayed” in front of my relatives and since I was too overwhelmed by all the attention, I didn’t manage to “say” anything. My audience returned disappointed. Lesson learnt: “Audience is everything, keep them engaged”.
My second experience came during my school days in Kolkata (India) when I for the first time faced a “real” audience for the inter-class debate competition. I was selected to represent my class and had 7 days to prepare a speech and deliver in front of a 50 member strong audience. Sounds like an easy job now, but would have been impossible had it not been for my first unofficial speech writer: Dad. He wrote, I learnt and delivered on D-Day the mugged up version. The audience cheered, I came second and learnt the second lesson: In a speech “Content is king”.
With experience and exposure, I very soon was a confident debater still mostly using learnt material to deliver speeches. This changed one fine day when in a fit of excitement during an external visit to another school I forgot my lines. I stumbled, fumbled and luckily could come up with something completely new but thankfully relevant to the theme faring not so bad in the end. I learnt pretty quickly my lesson this time: A good speech should have elements of “Improvisation”.
The next lesson I learnt came during my days in College when as part of the Dramatics team I used to stage plays and sometimes used improvisation in the dialogue delivery styles to make the audience laugh. With the limited independence I got in terms of improvisation during those days I realised interestingly that I derived energy from the laughter of the audience and an aspect I later successfully transferred to my speeches as well. Lesson learnt: “Humor” is to a speech what oxygen is to life.
My final learning experience so far was at the Inter-University debate competition when in a foreign location, devoid of supporters and in front of other seemingly favourite speeches I stuck to the basics, incorporated the above elements and still came out on top. Lesson learnt: “A good speech never fails”.
When people ask me, despite all these experiences so far why I joined Toastmasters, I put on the table two primary reasons:
- A quote by my favourite public speaker: “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” (Steve Jobs, Stanford University Commencement address 2005).
- The title of this speech itself: “Public Speaking: I Love You“
picture: Rolf Handke / pixelio.de / Image-ID: 441778