Speech and Presentation Tips from the Toastmasters International World Champion of Public Speaking 2015

Presenting an effective speech not only requires a significant amount of self-assuredness and confidence, but also a set of techniques and skills that are applied to establish an authentic connection with the audience and evoke feelings within the people you are speaking to.

The Toastmasters International World Champion of Public Speaking, Mohammed Qahatini has shared some tips on how to deliver an effective presentation.

Qahtini is a security engineer from Saudi Arabia who was recommended by a friend to join a Toastmasters club in 2009. He took extensive training in order to become the best speaker within his personal capacity.

In 2015 he made it through seven rounds of a competition that spanned over six months and held 33,000 world-wide competitors. On the 15th of August he won the final round for his speech, “The Power of Words”.

Tell yourself you’re “Better” Than Your Audience

Having grown up with a stutter, and still being affected by it at times, Qahtini said that speaking on stage to an audience made him feel empowered and able to overcome his speech impediment.

He learned this technique from a public speaking coach, who advised him to tell himself that he was “better” than his audience. This should not be taken from an egotistical perspective, but rather with a sense that you are speaking in front of people who are interested in what you have to say. It is a state of mind that eliminates the fear of embarrassment and humiliation. There is no need to feel insecure as they are the ones who are admiring you.

Determine Your Key Message that You Want Your Audience To Leave With and Make it Relevant Throughout

When writing a speech, it is of utmost importance to ensure that you have a clear and coherent message that is reiterated throughout your presentation. The message of Qahtini’s “The Power of Words” speech was straightforward: We need to be aware of the power that our words may hold over other people, whether this is a positive thing or not.

Your Audience Should Be Your Main Concern When on Stage

Ideally, your speech should have been practiced enough beforehand for you to feel completely comfortable about its content and delivery. Qahtani said that a friend once advised him not to worry about how you look, sound or where you are on stage – the most important thing is speaking on a personal level to your audience and playing off of their energy.

Acknowledge Your Strengths and Use Them to Your Advantage

A fellow speaker once told Qahatani that, some people’s strengths lie in their use of words, their voice or their stage presence, and that his strength was humor. Qahtani had casual experience in stand-up comedy in his student years at Arizona State Universiy and has a knack for finding the humorous aspects in situations.

He kept it authentic though; if people didn’t find a particular topic funny, he would not use jokes in his speeches.

Establish a Balance of Emotions

Although humor can be very effective in breaking the ice with an audience, it is important to bring in an essence of seriousness and personal anecdotes throughout the speech – otherwise it may seem more like a stand-up act.

No matter how you determine the way in which your speech will progress, it is important, however, to remember that a speech that is too serious may leave a melancholic effect on the audience, instead of leaving them feeling empowered and satisfied.

Perform Your Speech as Many Times as Possible to an Honest Audience

Remember that you are writing a speech for an audience, and not for yourself. Saying your speech to people who you can trust not to give sugar-coated feedback will make a world of difference to the revision, polishing and quality of your speech.

It is also for this reason that joining a Toastmasters group is highly beneficial. Not only do you receive great support from fellow speakers, you also receive honest and well-informed criticism and feedback.

Try Not to Memorize Your Speech

According to Qahtani, attempting to commit every word of your speech to memory will only result in a less effective performance. He prefers to visualize a plan with key points in his speech that he expands on during his presentation. It is imperative to be familiar enough with the content you have written that you can naturally speak about it.

You can view Qahtani’s full speech here.

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