Are you happy with the results, Thomas?

Third Place Winner - Semifinal 1 - World Championship of Public Speaking 2015 - Photo by Susanne Kischnick Photography

The day after…

Friday, August 14th, 2015. 06:30 in the morning.

I wake up.

Immediately – even before I open my eyes – this line runs through my head:

When I was a little boy I knew everything about Superman and Spiderman.

But then it hit me…

I don’t have to do this anymore.

It’s over.

Relax.

The days before…

I am in Las Vegas, Nevada, US. Lying on my back in the bed of my hotel room. I breathe slowly and relaxed after my heartbeat has settled again. I feel deep contentment.

This project is over. But it’s only the beginning of a completely new journey.

The project named “Why not become the World Champion of Public Speaking?” has started on March 12th, 2015 in Cologne, Germany. I won the competition in my home club (Rheinredner) with a speech that was then still titled “What does it take to be a superhero?”. All around the globe the season of public speaking competitions in the organization Toastmasters International had started. An estimated 30,000 members (out of 320,000 world wide) start competing and strive for delivering their best speeches in order to progress to the next level.

After the club contest I won the contests on area level, division level and district level. And this is where the temperature rises. Because if you win the International Speech Contest on district level you are entitled to compete in the World Championship of Public Speaking (WCPS). From the 30,000 members that went on this quest, only less than 100 continue to the WCPS. In 2015 the WCPS took place in Las Vegas, NV.

And I was there. Well, almost…

The final weeks before the World Championship

The European Toastmasters Universe

In the Toastmaster universe Continental Europe is divided into two districts – my district (D95) and “the other one” (D59). To cut a long story short: I met the champion of the other district, the wonderful Antonio Meza, we really connected and worked together. Thanks to our supporting European Toastmasters we collected tips and evaluations on our speeches in Germany, Belgium, the UK, and later in California. In the UK we even met the two district champions of Great Britain (Jim Gregory, representing the North of UK and Ireland, and Jeremy Robinson, representing the South).

Top three suggestions during the preparation

One of the corner stones of Toastmasters International is to provide feedback for what ever you do in and for this organization – especially when it comes to speeches. Hence, I gathered an enormous amount of feedback during the approximately 20 presentations of my Superhero speech. There is lots to say about the feedback itself (probably in a separate post), but there are three piece of advice I want to share with you.

  1. The first eye opener came from acclaimed TEDx speaker John Zimmer. Let me quote from a mail he sent:

    “Before getting into specifics, the most important piece of advice I can give you as you continue on this amazing journey, is this: Don’t overcook the speech!

    Have you ever boiled vegetable for dinner and left them in the water too long? They don’t taste very good. All the goodness has been boiled out of them.”

    John phrased best what many evaluators said as well: “Don’t let feedback destroy your speech. In the end, it has to be and to remain your speech!”

  2. Second pearl of wisdom came from the gifted story telling coach Michael G. Parker: “If somebody comes to you and says: ‘I would do it that way!’ – ignore them. But if somebody comes to you and says: ‘There is something that I didn’t understand in your speech.’ or ‘I missed the connection between those two parts.’ – than pay attention!”

    In a nutshell: There are many different speakers and many different ways of presenting a speech. You will never please everybody with your speech. Some like it. Some don’t. Always go for the common denominator of your audience.

  3. Finally a power tool shared by Erick Rainey, two times finalist of the World Championship of Public Speaking. Here is what he suggested:

    “Once your speech is ‘ready’, i.e. the script has been written and you are happy with the lines, go into a speed drill of your speech. That is: Try to give your speech in 2.5 minutes. If you can do this, you know your lines. Don’t worry about emotions, drama, humor, pauses, and delivery. It’s a drill. Not a presentation.”

    Later Bob Mohl added: “If you want to do it the Seinfeld-way, then let somebody throw a line from your speech at you and you continue with the speed drill from there. Although I think, Seinfeld would probably be able to give his speeches backwards from there…”

Drilling

And this was what I was doing during the final days before my appearance in Las Vegas: The moment I woke up, I speed drilled my speech:

When I was a little boy I knew everything about Superman and Spiderman.

And I agree with Erick and Bob: It is a powerful tool to become comfortable with your lines.

When I stepped onto the stage as the first speaker in the first semifinal (you can get access to all the speeches at ToastmastersOnDemand) I felt comfortable and I wasn’t remotely worried about going blank. I ended well on time (nicely in the red, if you know what I’m saying ;-)), felt well with both my pace and my pauses, and after thanking Opa for sharing his lessons with me and the audience I happily went of stage. I got un-mic’ed (thanks to the awesome work of Freeman), went back to my seat and could enjoy a fantastic array of awesome speakers. I had a blast.

In the end I placed third. It is the smallest trophy you can win at the WCPS – but it is a trophy 🙂

Especially I am a bid proud that in the 90 years since the establishment of Toastmasters International I am only the second person bringing home a trophy to Europe (after Olivia Schofield) and I am the first German ever who brings back a trophy from the World Championship of Public Speaking. Pride is a dangerous thing. But this trophy made me grow an inch.

Thomas Rose: Third place in Semifinal #1, World Championship of Public Speaking 2015

Thomas Rose: Third place in Semifinal #1, World Championship of Public Speaking 2015

Thomas, are you happy with the results?

After the semifinal many people came to me and asked me how I feel and whether I am happy with the results. And my answer has always been: “Yes, I am happy with the results.” I love the speech of the winner Gil Michelini, Indiana, for whom I will be rooting in the finale. He truly deserves to be in the finale this afternoon. And I am very happy to have met the second winner Dwight Edwards from Idaho, with whom I connected so easily and deeply at the same time.

“If I had to relive this semifinal again and if I had to go on stage with my superhero speech once more, I would probably give it in the same way I did in real life. This is my speech. It has my message. And even though it is not about me, this speech is important to me. Yes, I am happy with the results.”

And now I am happy as well that this project is over. For the time being. I hope to be back in Washington, D.C., next year. We take it from there.

For now, all is well.


Featured Image by Susanne Kischnick Photography – http://www.susannekischnick.com/


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2 Comments to Are you happy with the results, Thomas?

  1. Silvana says:

    You can grow more inches! 🙂

  2. […] Note: The picture of Thomas Rose comes from here. […]

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