This last week, I had a wonderful time at the Toastmasters International Convention in Las Vegas, where I delivered the opening keynote to a truly international audience. (Just in case you don’t already know, Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organization teaching public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network.) One of the many highlights of this year’s convention was the final competition for the World Championship of Public Speaking. Congratulations to Mohammed Qahtani of Saudi Arabia, who emerged from a field of 30,000 contestants to become the 2015 Toastmasters World Champion of Public Speaking! Past winners of this prestigious competition include: Ed Tate, Mark Brown, and Darren LaCroix, my co-presenters at the Lady and the Champs conventions. I share this from Toastmasters’ International:
Saudi Arabian Engineer Wins Toastmasters’ 2015 World Championship of Public Speaking
Mohammed Qahtani rises above 30,000 participants to win world’s largest speech contest.
With a humorous speech titled “The Power of Words,” Mohammed Qahtani, a security engineer from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, won the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking on Saturday, August 15, 2015. Qahtani, along with nine other final contestants, reached the championship level after several eliminating rounds that began six months ago with 30,000 participants from more than 100 countries.
“It’s a dream I never thought would happen in real life,” said the happy winner, who said he entered the contest “for practice” but never expected to bring home the World Championship trophy. His speech resonated with the capacity crowd of 2,500 people from around the world who attended the contest at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. His winning speech was a personal tale about events in his life where, “if words had been said differently, they would have elicited a radically different response.”
“Your mouth can spit venom, or it can mend a broken soul,” said Qahtani, who grew up being teased for having a severe stuttering speech impediment. He said as a child he was a mute who uttered his first word at age 6. “Words are power,” he said in his speech. “Words can be your power. You can change a life, inspire a nation, make this world a beautiful place.”
Watch Qahtani compete:
Qahtani joined Toastmasters six years ago. He competed in many speech contests and honed his timing in standup comedy before reaching his goal of earning the title of World Champion of Public Speaking, which he hopes will be a springboard into a career in professional speaking. In his acceptance speech, he encouraged others in the audience to “face your fears.” He said, “I used to be the laughing stock at school, but look at me now. If this can happen to me, imagine what could happen to you.”
Contestants delivered five-to seven-minute speeches on wide-ranging topics and were judged on content, organization and delivery.
Qahtani claimed the title of Toastmasters 2015 World Champion of Public Speaking during the organization’s annual convention held in Las Vegas, August 12-15th. This was the first time in the history of the contest that all three top winners came from countries outside North America.
Second- and third-place winners were Aditya Maheswaran from Mumbai, India, with his speech titled “Scratch” and Manoj Vasudevan from Singapore with his speech titled, “We Can Fix It.”
About Toastmasters International
Toastmasters International is a worldwide nonprofit educational organization that empowers individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organization’s membership exceeds 332,000 in more than 15,400 clubs in 135 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people from diverse backgrounds become more confident speakers, communicators and leaders. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit www.toastmasters.org. Follow @Toastmasters on Twitter.
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