Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. 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 of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience.
Toastmasters recently named seven speeches as the most “buzzworthy” of 2015. The speeches were chosen because they were thought-provoking, emotional and inspiring, and they captured the attention of audiences around the world. What is the secret to giving a speech that is viewed and shared by millions of people? As Toastmasters says, “A successful speech resonates with interesting content and a heartfelt delivery.”
Each speech below has its merits. You should take the time to watch at least a few of them. And if you would like to recommend one of your favourite speeches of 2015, please leave a comment with a link to it.
- February 9: As Beck walked on stage to accept the Album of the Year Grammy®; he was met by Kanye West who looked as if he was going to repeat his infamous Taylor Swift interruption from the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Fortunately, West sat back down without incident, Beck kept his composure and delivered a thoughtful and gracious speech.
- February 22: When J.K. Simmons won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar® for his performance in “Whiplash,” he took the opportunity to remind people to call their parents. “I’m told there’s like a billion people or so (watching). Call your mom. Call your dad, if you are lucky enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet. Don’t text. Don’t email. Call ‘em on the phone. Tell them you love them, and thank them, and listen to them for as long as they want to talk to you.”
- May 17: As he gave the commencement speech at George Washington University, Apple CEO Tim Cook implored the graduates to follow their values as they seek a career. “Graduates, your values matter. They are your North Star. Otherwise it’s just a job—and life is too short for that.”
- May 20: After 33 years and more than 6,000 episodes, David Letterman ended his final Late Show with his typical self-deprecating humor, telling the audience “in light of all of this praise, merited or not, do me a favor; save a little for my funeral. I’d appreciate it.”
- July 15: As she accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs, Caitlyn Jenner made an emotional plea to viewers. “If you want to call me names, make jokes, doubt my intentions, go ahead, because the reality is I can take it. But for the thousands of kids out there who are coming to terms with being true to who they are, they shouldn’t have to take it.”
- August 15: With his humorous speech, “The Power of Words,” Saudi Arabian Mohammed Qahtani was crowned Toastmasters’2015 World Championship of Public Speaking. Qahtani beat nearly 30,000 other contestants from more than 100 countries to win the championship with his a personal tale about events in his life where “if words had been said differently, they would have elicited a radically different response.”
- September 20: Becoming the first African-American to win the Emmy® for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Viola Davis gave a speech about the need for more diversity in Hollywood. “The only thing that separates women of color from everyone else is opportunity,” she said. “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”