Advice on How to Become a Champion Public Speaker–a speech by Dana Lamon


Dana LaMon, a blind African-American and retired judge, earned the title of World Champion of Public Speaking from Toastmasters International in 1992.   He has spoken to audiences from Asia to South Africa, including more than 35 states of the U.S., and our District 30 in Chicagoland was fortunate enough to be able to book him as the keynote speaker for our Toastmasters Leadership Institute (TLI) that was held on June 13th.    I was inspired by two of the speeches he gave at the TLI event, the speech at the opening of the Institute’s day-long program and the keynote speech he did at our luncheon.

The speech he gave at the opening was called Advice for Change, where he spells out the acronym ADVICE for those who are seeking to improve themselves in Toastmasters through their public speaking and leadership training program.

ADVICE on How to Become a Champion Public Speaker

How do you change from where you are now to becoming a champion public speaker?   Even if your goal is not to become the World Champion of Public Speaking, like Dana Lamon, he assured the audience that no matter what kind of champion you want to be, or what cause you want to champion, the art of public speaking can take you there.

1.   A is for Attitude

You have to make the moment meaningful, by willing to temporary forget the past, and be open to new ideas, new techniques, and new challenges.   When you are faced by a change, you have three choices, you can actively resist, you can passively adjust, or you can actively use the opportunity to grow.     If you focus on the now rather than the past, you will find it easier to let go of resistance and start to willingly change.

2.  D is for Desire

If you know what you want to do as a public speaker, you will know what adjustments you will need to make to get yourself to change towards that goal.    Find those who have done it before you and watch what they do.    However, how they do what they do is a different matter:    you will have to be authentic to your own voice and your own style in order to succeed.    So you can copy techniques, of others, but retain your own integrity in adapting them to yourself.

3.  V is for Vision

Keep a mental picture prominently in view, so that if your immediate path wavers, you will be able to hone in on where you need to get go next, like an internal GPS system.

4.  E is for … Innergy

What is Innergy?    A word Dana Lamon made up that encapsulates the power that comes from within that propels you towards the direction of change.

  • I can–rather than saying to yourself “I would like” to be a champion, actually spend some time feeling the feeling of what it would be like to be a champion public speaker.    What kind of influence would you be able to yield?    Feeling this feeling as if it already existed right now, and not sometime in the future, is a key emotional element towards identifying with success.
  • I will–if you have a so-called “failure” on your way towards your final goal, do not let it deter you, but stop and take stock of what you can learn from it, and then move on.     So many people quit because they are discouraging by having to pay their dues before they start receiving the fruits of their efforts.
  • I connect–connect with others who are on the same journey, either those who have gone on ahead of you, so you can be inspired to achieve more, or those who are behind you.    Helping others will give you additional motivational for keeping on the pathway towards success.   Network with as many people as possible and assist them, so they will remember you and be willing to assist you.

5.  C is for Control

Always stay in control when you are on stage, no matter what the circumstances are that you may encounter.    If there is a technical difficulty, you may acknowledge it, but don’t belabor the situation with additional apologies.    If you pretend to ignore it, your audience will, too!    If something happens unexpectedly, you can make the audience think that it was part of the program.   Of course, this takes preparation, but it takes mental agility–which is where the impromptu speeches of Toastmasters, aka Table Topics speeches, come into play.

6.   E is for Excellence

You need to be committed to moving forward.    If circumstances put roadblocks in your way, find another route.    If someone tells you no, keep looking for the person who will say yes.    You must have the drive for excellence!

In fact, he said this drive for excellence was so important, he had an acronym for that as well, which he shared with us during the keynote noon-time address.   That will be the subject of the next post!

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