Tag Archives: Public speaking

How was the speech that won the World Championship in Public Speaking last night?

The winning speech at yesterday’s World Championship of Public Speaking.

Here’s the great speech that won the World Championship of Public Speaking last night. Watch it for your benefit!

This is my take on what was interesting in the winning speech and what anyone can learn from.

Courage is the key word

The main thing I saw was… courage:

  1. Courage to talk about a topic that comes from a non-Western cultural context.

  2. Courage to avoid exaggerations in body language, use of voice, and props.

    Why do I say this? Because in this contest the judges often reward you for such exaggeration, which looks slightly odd even for many Toastmasters members, let alone non-members.

  3. Courage to take a risk by choosing a speech title that is easily misheard and impossible to understand without hearing the speech itself.

    This sort of a choice about the speech title usually creates confusion in the audience.

    During the speech the audience actually found out that the difficulty to understand the name of the speech matched with the content and the message of the speech.

Other building blocks of a good speech

For me the main thing in any speech is that the content of the speech is clear and there’s a message that is relevant and easy to relate to.

Even better if the speaker is able to make the audience laugh.

The winning speech totally achieved each of the above goals.

I also saw great interaction with the audience. In this case, with a very large audience!

The speaker also did a great job of gradually building expectation during the speech. In this case, he did it by making the audience eager to hear another key word, and having them wait all the way until the end of the speech to hear it. This is a technique used both in suspense movies and in stand-up comedy.

This sort of performance looks easy when you watch it, but it takes not only great talent, but a huge amount of hard work. Like in Olympic sports.

Good to know about the context of this speech situation

Don’t expect to see a speech that takes a strong stance on an important current issue. In Toastmasters contests, you tend to be punished by the judges if you talk about something that can be interpreted as political. This is a challenge for the speakers as they still need to try to say something meaningful.

All in all, great job, incredible achievement, Cyril Junior Dim, well deserved!!

P.S. The topic of the speech was about the difficulty of being proud about what makes you different from everyone else. Because being different from those around you can put you into trouble.

As to myself, life has taught me that where people are different from others, or do something different from what most others do, is usually where they achieve their greatest heights of accomplishment and achievement.

Where we are different from others is what enables us to shine, and also succeed in life, whatever that means to each one of us.

But being different also takes… courage.

Do you find it hard to convince your audience when presenting a technology product?

If your answer to the question in the headline is yes, then this webinar is for you! (NB The webinar will be in SPANISH)

At the beginning of the year, I wouldn’t have thought I would end up as a panelist in South America this week. Not even virtually, from the comfort of my home in Finland. But here we are 😀 Time and again, I’ve seen that the best things tend to be those that are a bit out of the ordinary.

The event is organized by Centrum PUCP, one of the best business schools in all of Latin America. They created the below banner about the webinar and us speakers.

In the webinar, we will discuss:

  • What challenges public speakers in the tech industry tend to face?
  • How are those challenges best tackled?
  • Presentation techniques that separate the best from the rest 

We will of course use a lot of examples and personal stories from Nokia and other companies.

In addition to yours truly, the panelists will include Oscar Santolalla, who has written two books about presentation skills in the tech industry, as well as Katherina Kuschel, who teaches MBA students and coaches startup entrepreneurs in business skills. 

The event is open to everyone. You just need to sign up beforehand here https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_7bsgtK29SMiwykZObvr2Cg 

Time and date: Thursday, February 24, 2022 at 6pm Finnish time (5pm Central European time, 11am Peru). The duration of the event is one hour.

The organizers told me that more than 200 people have already signed up. You’re warmly welcome to join us!

What can you learn about public speaking by coaching public speakers?

What can you learn about public speaking by coaching public speakers?

Here’s three things I’m seeing lately:

Puhuja

  1. Back to the basics

    Whether the person is a beginner or an experienced speaker, their key areas to improve tend to be in the basics.

    For example, it’s surprising how many speakers forget to ask themselves what the goal of their talk is, or who their audience is, and how that should influence what they say. Hint: ”Informing the audience about x” is not a good goal for a presentation.

  2. Improving, fast and slow

    Some aspects of a person’s speech can be improved quickly, sometimes all that is needed is feedback in the form of a single sentence.

    For example, if someone talks too fast and monotonously, I often ask them to identify the single most important word or phrase in their presentation, and focus on saying that one slowly and clearly. The audience immediately gets the message better.

    Other stuff may take years to fix, but the pay-off could be huge. For instance, I needed a speech therapist and endless drills to learn how to pronounce the letter ”r” in my native Finnish.

  3. Observing a symptom is just the first step towards the cure

    When you see an issue with someone’s presentation, you often only see a symptom. To help the speaker overcome that symptom, it helps if you understand a bit more deeply the person you’re coaching and where they come from.

    For example, I met two speakers who both talked too fast.

    It turned out the first one had a background in college debate and simply had to unlearn the habit of always speaking fast when on stage.

    The second one had spoken too fast because she wanted to deliver the maximum amount of information in the allotted time. Here the fix was different: to ditch all material that was not mandatory to achieve the goal of the presentation.

…which brings us to an additional conclusion: trust is essential when coaching public speakers.

What do you think?

How do you turn a journalist into a public speaker performing to sold-out audiences in one month?

This Saturday morning was pretty special at my local Toastmasters club, where we help people improve their public speaking and leadership skills.

My club held a meeting at Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s largest newspaper.

Jaakko Lyytinen and Riikka Haikarainen in action.

Jaakko Lyytinen and Riikka Haikarainen in action on December 1, 2018.

The highlight of the day was a talk by two award-winning and super-innovative journalists, Jaakko Lyytinen and Riikka Haikarainen, who created the Musta laatikko (Black Box) public speaking performance at the Finnish National Theater.

Musta laatikko is a performance where about ten Helsingin Sanomat journalists each give a 10-15 minute talk about one of their news stories before a live audience. You can think about it as something similar to TED talks, yet something quite different and unique.

Musta laatikko has been running for almost three years at the Finnish National Theater and it’s already been seen by a whopping 18,000 people. About 100 Helsingin Sanomat journalists have spoken there and this year the performance was awarded as the Best Journalistic Act of the Year in Finland.

Here are some takeaways from the yesterday’s talk by Jaakko and Riikka:

  1. Content is king. Focus on the delivery of your speech only when your content is in shipshape.
  2. The best speeches have been given by those humble enough to take the coaching that was offered. Those who thought they already knew all the tricks of the trade tended to perform worse.
  3. The best speakers still continue to spend more time training than the rest of the pack.
  4. For the Musta laatikko speakers, one of the best experiences has been the peer support and development of their speeches in a safe and encouraging environment (anyone recognize the Toastmasters ethos here 🙂 )
  5. The journalists have very much enjoyed the chance to face and overcome their fear of public speaking. For a writing journalist, public speaking doesn’t necessarily come naturally.

A bonus tip: if you have an exceptionally innovative idea, the first thing to do is NOT to tell your boss. They’ll most likely kill it. Instead, first develop your idea further with a couple of trusted colleagues. Then present an irresistible case to management and they’ll buy the idea.