World Champion of Public Speaking 2014
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What better to improve your public speaking than by observing those who already excel in it? Our ‘Get Inspired’ series will look at different people who have delivered incredible speeches and see what made them engage with the audience.

In the first of this series is Dananjaya Hettiarachchi from Sri Lanka who won the 2014 Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking. His speech, entitled ‘I see something’ encompasses all the elements of an excellent speech with elements of surprise, inspiration and humour.

These are the two things I found exquisitely done in Dananjaya’s speech.

Vocal Variety

Dananjaya used the fool-proof technique of repetition very well and not only weaved it cleverly in his speech but he used his title to turn it into a catchphrase. Combined with carefully timed pauses, the impact of each time he said the catchphrase, created a real connection with his audience – the evidence is in their rapturous laughter. This is what I found made his speech so powerful and egaging.

Body language

We know body language is important to delivering a good speech (no surprise that it’s part of Toastmaster’s Competent Communicator program) and Dananjaya’s gestures and movements are done with deliberation to add drama and visual emphasis to his words. Watch how his actions when he talks about his mother crying and how the emotions you felt when he described this.

Watch the video yourself and see how many best practices you can learn from his storytelling techniques. What did you found inspiring in Dananjaya’s speech? Let me know in the comments below.

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Self confidence
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Go to the gym more.

Spend more time with the kids.

Eat more healthily.

Quit smoking.

Get a (new) job.

How many times have you seen these on people’s lists of New Year resolutions? With the start of the New Year, we’re looking for ways to improve ourselves and this is why you should seriously consider public speaking as your new interest.

Personally, attending my local Toastmasters club has already helped me grow in different ways including these:

Increase my self-confidence

Self confidence

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I have seen myself grow more confident in being at ease in front of a crowd and I did it all in small, sure steps. The first step was when I just psyching myself to get up and talk for the first time, followed by my  first Icebreaker speech to leading an entire evening as the Toastmaster.

Manage stress and handle change easily

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There have been times where I’ve helped run the evenings and there have been a few unexpected surprises that required making slight amendments to the agenda or how we run things. You learn to roll with it and adapt with a sense of humour. These types of situations are essential if you want to effectively manage your own study and work environment.

Socialize and network more outside of work

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When I came back to France, I buried myself in my new job where I’ve often been too tired to do much else when I got off work. Toastmasters restored my work-life balance and our group members are amazing people who bring lively stories to each session.

Broaden my horizons

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As I just mentioned, you meet interesting people from all walks of life and geographies from African sociologists, life coaches, and photographers to engineers, HR professionals and finance auditors. It’s without fail that you’ll learn something new at every Toastmasters session, from Word of the Day to improve your vocabulary, to random subjects from people’s speeches. We recently learned the psychology behind eating a gingerbread man!

Improve my analytical skills and hone in my attention to detail

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At Toastmasters, it’s not just about talking but also about listening. One of the best ways to learn how to improve on your public speaking is evaluating how others do it. Listen out for what they do well and also what they can improve on. I’ve picked up some best practices just by doing evaluations.

Become a quick thinker

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Doing impromptu speeches in front of strangers is no easy task and it really does get your heart pumping the first few tries. Yet now, I’ve grown to love and thrive in Table Topics; even winning a few!

Learn to become a storyteller

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I love finding ways to make my speeches be more colourful from similes, alliterations, metaphors to onomatopoeia and personification. Toastmasters gets your creative cogs in motion and I’m becoming smitten with the English language every day.

Have you already joined Toastmasters, I’d love to know how it’s helped you. If you’re new to Toastmasters and want to see what it can do for you, sign up to our next session or get in touch.

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