Ohio Native Crowned Toastmasters 2018 World Champion of Public Speaking
The political slogan as Ohio goes…so goes the NATION apparently doesn’t apply solely to politics. In an unprecedented historical victory where three females took the top public speaking positions at the 2018 Toastmasters World Championships it can now be applied to public speaking as well.
Ramona Smith, a 31 year-old high school teacher originally from Cleveland, Ohio has been crowned the 2018 Toastmasters World Champion of Public Speaking. During the past six-months of competition she has outlasted and bested over 30,000 competitors, which was reduced to 106 semi-finalists, then to 10 finalists, and over the past couple of weeks, one world champion.
For the first time in the contest’s history, female competitors swept the top three positions with Ramona Smith being only the fifth woman to capture the title since the competition officially began in 1938 and only the second African-American woman.
Ironically, Smith is a relative newcomer to public speaking and over the past four years since embarking on this journey she has constantly refined her skills ultimately culminating into a World Championship.
Most novice speakers pace back and forth for absolutely no reason. One’s movements should be on purpose. There should be a method to the madness.
Throughout Smith’s winning speech (video below) pay particular attention to how she moves with each point, how she plants her feet, says what she has to say, and then moves on to the next point.
On the championship stage, Smith used movement to strategically reinforce the theme “Still Standing” of her star-studded winning performance.
Smith speech titled “Still Standing,” explored how she overcame three major periods of adversity in her life when in her early adult years she dropped out of college, divorced her husband and previously failed within the speaking arena. She meticulously leveraged a metaphor of a boxing match to help drive each one of these points home and tie the entire story together.
Just like Ali and Frazier or the Thrilla in Manilla she danced across the stage, throwing jabs, hooks, and uppercuts at an imaginary opponent to represent the adversity she experienced. She even mimicked the times where adversity took jabs at her knocking her down for an 8 count but not knocking her completely out.
As Smith has progressed through her public speaking career she has become more confident with her abilities and began caring less about whether she looked silly or stupid fully committing to her character’s role.
When I got on the stage, I said, you know what? I’m just going to do whatever feels good and whatever feels right. I’m not going to care about what happens.– Ramona Smith
Her commitment allowed her audience to become absorbed in the speech, and helped them relate to her, she said.
What is one of the best ways in order to engage your audience and give them a chance to react? Ask them questions, but also be sure to pause long enough in order to provide them with the opportunity to react and think of an answer reflecting how they would respond to the question.
Open-ended questions are designed to encourage a full, meaningful answer suing the audience’s own knowledge and feelings.
In Smith’s seven minute speech she followed each of her open-ended questions with a pregnant pause. This is a technique often used in comic timing to help accentuate an element and to help build up suspense.
Those pregnant pauses are so important, I really look at them like I’m waiting for an answer.– Ramona Smith
How often do you get so excited during your speech that you’re moving and talking faster than the Road Runner? This is a problem for many trying to climb the public speaking circuit to success. Fast speech is like fine print. It’s easy to ignore. Speaking too fast makes your listeners work too hard. And that’s the last thing you want to do. One of the most important areas of improvement for Smith became learning how to talk slower.
Often times learning to talk slower means cutting content, possibly taking out vital parts of your story. Which means that the content of your speech has to be even better. Looking people in the eye also helps because it gives you direct feedback from your listeners.
Slowing down and talking clearly is critical on the international stage of competition, where many of the audience participants and competitors are from international countries and speak English as a second language. If you speak too fast it may sound like something else. Therefore one has to be able to slow down and enunciate properly. When speaking in front of international audiences one has to be aware and cognizant of that critical factor.
Follow these four pointers and you too can possibly become the next World Champion of Public Speaking.
Looking for additional tips on how you can become a better public speaker? Join a local Toastmasters Club. Simply click the hyperlink to find a club within your local area.
Maybe you want to speak with the 2018 Toastmasters World Champion herself. She’s a very personable individual and can be reached via her Facebook Page where she often hosts Q & A’s and Facebook Live Sessions for her followers.
Or maybe you need private coaching from some of the best within the industry. If that’s the case check out Darren LaCroix and Stage-Time University.