Back from the Toastmasters District Conference

OK, after a hiatus of several days (during which I did not turn on a computer or watch TV – heaven!) I am back from the District 59 Toastmasters Conference. The venue was the Intercontinental Hotel in Düsseldorf, Germany. As usual, it was a great time.

So, how did I do? Second place in the International Speech Contest. As the contest featured the top speakers from 18 countries in Continental Europe, I am happy with the result, even if it is tough coming so close to making it to the next round! I don’t think that I could have given a better performance on the day. I had my youngest daughter (and coach) Kristen with me, so it was all the more special to be able to perform with her in the audience. And, when you have people coming up to you afterwards and telling you how your speech affected them, it’s a great feeling.

My congratulations to Peter Zinn of Utrecht, the Netherlands who took first place, Martin Brown of Munich, Germany who took third place and my six other co-finalists. It was a great competition and the competitors were all great people. I and others will work with Peter so that he can do well in the United States in August.  All of District 59 must now get behind him and support him as he moves on.

Switzerland again did very well in the competition. I represented the International Geneva Toastmasters Club. My friend Lesley Stephenson from the Zuriberg Toastmasters took second place in the Speech Evaluation Contest. My friend Thomas Skipwith from the Rhetorik Club in Zürich took third place in the German Speech Evaluation Contest. Congratulations to them both; they were great.

Of course, the best part about the weekend was the people. This was my third District Conference and it was great to see other Toastmasters from around Europe who have now become good friends, especially the first place and third place winners in the Evaluation Contest, Mel Kelly (Munich Prostmasters) and Amy Hamilton (Stuttgart Toastmasters). It was also great to make new friends and to see some wonderful speeches and evaluations.  You really do learn an awful lot during these weekends and I encourage Toastmasters who have not been to a District Conference to try to attend one in the future. They really do add a whole new dimension to the Toastmasters experience.

Contests are a great way to improve your public speaking skills no matter which level you reach. International leadership expert, Robin Sharma, recently posted the following on Twitter: “Ambition is not a dirty word. Authentic ambition is nothing more than you reaching for your very best. And that’s such a profound move.” That’s what contests force you to do – to reach for your very best.

As for the future? Well, the competitions seem to get tougher with each round as veteran competitors get better and new, talented ones emerge, but once bitten by the bug, it is hard (for me at least) to sit still when the contest season comes around. So, to end with a quote from someone whom most of you know, “I’ll be back!” In the meantime, my performance in Düsseldorf can be seen below.

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  1. Superb speech John! Certainly adds credence to the theory that non-verbal communication is as essential an element of public speaking as verbal. Good use of humour (whilst remaining serious) and an emotionally engaging topic. Top stuff!

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John delivered a keynote address about the importance of public speaking to 80 senior members of Gore’s Medical Device Europe team at an important sales event. He was informative, engaging and inspirational. Everyone was motivated to improve their public speaking skills. Following his keynote, John has led public speaking workshops for Gore in Barcelona and Munich. He is an outstanding speaker who thinks carefully about the needs of his audience well before he steps on stage.

Karsta Goetze

TA Leader, Gore and Associates

I first got in touch with John while preparing to speak at TED Global about my work on ProtonMail. John helped me to sharpen the presentation and get on point faster, making the talk more focused and impactful. My speech was very well received, has since reached almost 1.8 million people and was successful in explaining a complex subject (email encryption) to a general audience.

Andy Yen

CEO, Proton Technologies

John gave the opening keynote on the second day of our unit’s recent offsite in Geneva, addressing an audience of 100+ attendees with a wealth of tips and techniques to deliver powerful, memorable presentations. I applied some of these techniques the very next week in an internal presentation, and I’ve been asked to give that presentation again to senior management, which has NEVER happened before. John is one of the greatest speakers I know and I can recommend his services without reservation.

David Lindelöf

Senior Data Scientist, Expedia Group

After a morning of team building activities using improvisation as the conduit, John came on stage to close the staff event which was organised in Chamonix, France. His energy and presence were immediately felt by all the members of staff. The work put into the preparation of his speech was evident and by sharing some his own stories, he was able to conduct a closing inspirational speech which was relevant, powerful and impactful for all at IRU. The whole team left feeling engaged and motivated to tackle the 2019 objectives ahead. Thank you, John.

Umberto de Pretto

Secretary General, World Road Transport Organization

I was expecting a few speaking tips and tricks and a few fun exercises, but you went above and beyond – and sideways. You taught me to stand tall. You taught me to anchor myself. You taught me to breathe. You taught me to open up. You taught me to look people in the eye. You taught me to tell the truth. You taught me to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I got more than I bargained for in the best possible way.

Thuy Khoc-Bilon

World Cancer Day Campaign Manager, Union for International Cancer Control

John gave a brilliant presentation on public speaking during the UN EMERGE programme in Geneva (a two days workshop on leadership development for a group of female staff members working in the UN organizations in Geneva). His talk was inspirational and practical, thanks to the many techniques and tips he shared with the audience. His teaching can dramatically change our public speaking performance and enable us as presenters to have a real and powerful impact. Thank you, John, for your great contribution!

Sara Canna

HR Specialist, World Health Organization

John is a genuine communication innovator. His seminars on gamification of public speaking learning and his interactive Rhetoric game at our conference set the tone for change and improvement in our organisation. The quality of his input, the impact he made with his audience and his effortlessly engaging style made it easy to get on board with his core messages and won over some delegates who were extremely skeptical as to the efficacy of games for learning. I simply cannot recommend him highly enough.

Thomas Scott

National Education Director, Association of Speakers Clubs UK

John joined our Global Sales Meeting in Segovia, Spain and we all participated in his "Improv(e) your Work!" session. I say “all” because it really was all interactive, participatory, learning and enjoyable. The session surprised everybody and was a fresh-air activity that brought a lot of self-reflection and insights to improve trust and confidence in each other inside our team. It´s all about communication and a good manner of speaking!"

Jon Lopez

General Manager Europe, Hayward Industries

Thank you very much for the excellent presentation skills session. The feedback I received was very positive. Everyone enjoyed the good mix of listening to your speech, co-developing a concrete take-away and the personal learning experience. We all feel more devoted to the task ahead, more able to succeed and an elevated team spirit. Delivering this in a short time, both in session and in preparation, is outstanding!

Henning Dehler

CFO European Dairy Supply Chain & Operations, Danone

Thanks to John’s excellent workshop, I have learned many important tips and techniques to become an effective public speaker. John is a fantastic speaker and teacher, with extensive knowledge of the field. His workshop was a great experience and has proven extremely useful for me in my professional and personal life.

Eric Thuillard

Senior Sales Manager, Sunrise Communications

John’s presentation skills training was a terrific investment of my time. I increased my skills in this important area and feel more comfortable when speaking to an audience. John provided the right mix between theory and practice.

Diego Brait

Director of the Jura Region, BKW Energie AG

Be BOLD. Those two words got stuck in my head and in the heads of all those ADP leaders and associates that had the privilege to see John on stage. He was our keynote speaker at our annual convention in Barcelona, and his message still remains! John puts his heart in every word. Few speakers are so credible, humble and yet super strong with large audiences!

Guadalupe Garcia

Senior Director and Talent Partner, ADP International