mohammed qahtani speaker

he survived seven rounds of a competition that lasted six months and included 33,000 competitors from around the world. he and nine other finalists competed at the toastmasters annual convention in las vegas, and he took home first place for his speech, “the power of words,” which you can watch below: qahtani starts his speech with a sight gag, pretending to consider lighting up a cigarette before the audience’s reaction convinces him not to. the audience then roars with laughter. qahtani says it can be easy for a speaker to forget that an audience wants a performer to do well and is waiting to be entertained. every presentation needs to have a thesis — a message that the audience is convinced of and will take with them. his speech is a series of stories: why a pseudo-defense of smoking can be convincing; how he taught his young son a lesson; why academics have a difficult time imparting the dangers of global warming, and how a single phone call ruined a friend’s life. a friend once told qahtani, “when you’re on the stage, the most important thing is the audience. in “the power of words,” he cheats a little bit with the story about a friend dying from an overdose.

the story, about a promising young man’s tragic path to self-destruction partially due to an estranged relationship with his father, is real, but it’s a story qahtani borrowed. qahtani grew up with a stutter and deals with it occasionally. he says that even though the stage empowers him and rids him of the impediment, his vocal delivery will never be his strong point, and neither will his stage presence. a fellow toastmasters member once told qahtani, “some people are strong with their words. some people are strong with their stage presence. there were competitors who had better delivery and more refined movements on stage, but qahtani got the audience to focus their attention on what he did well. qahtani opened his speech with humor to get the audience laughing and relaxed, but he would have fallen into a stand-up act if he didn’t transition into moving personal anecdotes. however you determine your speech will flow, qahtani said, it’s important that you always leave your audience with a feeling of hope.

they come from the world champion of public speaking – yes there is such a thing – and they will teach you to become a more engaging speaker, even if your subject happens to be quite dull! using the cigarette as a prop to shock them initially. these really grab the audience’s attention ensuring they are primed to listen to the rest of his presentation with anticipation and a sense of curiosity. start your own presentations by opening with something new or novel, or by challenging conventional wisdom. it’s fascinating and represents a huge opportunity, but i’ll get to that shortly…” many novice speakers simply engage in a monologue. the role of listener is entirely passive; it’s no wonder they tune out. if you are nervous that they will respond with elaborate answers or debates that disrupt your flow, ask a question, pause and then provide an answer. audiences crave clarity in order to really follow and understand your ideas.

making the core message a prominent focus of your presentation will ensure that it is remembered and much more likely to be acted upon. they are compelling. they stick in our minds and help us remember ideas and concepts in a way that numbers and text on a slide with a bar graph don’t. he accepted that his son kept on with such behaviour just to spite him. this could easily go wrong or cause the audience to laugh at him rather than with him. perhaps this comes from the mistaken belief that to be credible, they must come across as strong, powerful and knowledgeable. surprisingly, it’s vulnerability and your willingness to show that your are human, and therefore fallible, that is at the core of friendship and likeability. so take a calculated risk when presenting by showing that your are human and therefore fallible. helping you to understand the specific behaviours, techniques and strategies of the world’s best speakers and influencers provides the platform to transform your presentations and sales skills.

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