A Movie I Have to See!

When it comes to being on the cutting edge of cinema … I’m not your guy. Case in point: Slum Dog Millionaire was the first movie in perhaps 20 years that my wife and I saw in the theatre before it won the Academy Award for best picture.

Still, I do enjoy a good film every now and then. My taste is fairly eclectic, including everything from Hollywood blockbusters such as Avatar (which I did see – in 3D) or The Terminator (of course!) to more subtle European fare such as Il Postino or Les Choristes.


And I have just heard of a new documentary film that has got me pretty excited – for obvious reasons if you are reading this blog. It is called “Speak”. Here is an excerpt about the film from Tumbleweed Entertainment, the production company:

“Speak” is a documentary exploring the fear of public speaking and the ways people seek to overcome it. Specifically, “Speak” will follow several members of Toastmasters International, an organization dedicated to improving public speaking and leadership skills. …

“Speak” will chronicle the journey of several individuals on the club, or local, level who are taking on their fear of public speaking. Most are hoping Toastmasters will help give them the skills they need in order to accomplish the goals and dreams they set out to achieve in their personal and professional lives. Some of those who conquer their fear, however, decide to take on bigger challenges, like competitive speaking.

A documentary film about Toastmasters is long overdue. I am proud to be a member of the organization. It has helped millions of people around the world improve their public speaking and leadership skills. Toastmasters contests help members to “push the envelope” and take their speaking to a whole new level.

Yes, contests are challenging; yes they are nerve-wracking; but they draw thousands of participants year in and year out. Why? David Brooks, the 1990 World Champion of Public Speaking, put it best. He said that “speech contests are your fastest route to your greatest improvement”.

Update: Since writing this post, Speak has become available. You can watch it below.

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3 Replies to “A Movie I Have to See!”

  1. Dear John,
    Have just formed a club in the south of Spain and we are enjoying great progress, so quickly! Love your site and thank you for the Public Speaker’s Checklist which I have printed off for all our members.
    Best wishes,

    1. Dear Angela,
      Thank you for the message and kind words about the blog. Glad that you find the checklist useful and glad that you have shared it with others. Big congratulations on your new club. That’s always very exciting. I just returned from Milan where I spoke this past weekend to a great group of people who are enthusiastic about Toastmasters and who have already formed three or four clubs. The next step for them is to form an official Area and then try to join one of the Divisions in District 59.
      Best of luck with it. I hope to see you and your fellow members at a TM conference soon.

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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