Public Speaking: Mohammed Qahtani Case Study

When I came back from teaching in Japan, for a short while I joined the Hi-Noon Toastmasters in Little Rock. The group was a real welcoming bunch, and I liked the format and atmosphere.

But with a club format, it’s very procedural. While it provided a great environment for the intimidated to really practice and hone their speech craft, it was a little too basic for me. And, I didn’t feel like I was given enough time to test myself.

I’ve had several friends join different chapters all over the world, and I hear the experience really varies from club to club.

At my chapter, you had some who loved to talk (sometimes too much) and needed help in whittling down a focus. Then you had others who would completely freeze and needed help in getting the momentum going.

It wasn’t until after I left that I found out about the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking.

Let’s take a look at 2015’s winner: Mohammed Qahtani.

Mohammed starts with a real gimmicky opening, but you’ll notice the audience is eating it up. As he continues on, it becomes clear that Mohammed is a dork.

But it works!

He fully embraces his inner dork, and that provides a nice contrast to when he hits on the heavier stuff later in his speech. I think being a middle-aged guy catering towards a middle-aged crowd enables him to make his jokes work. I can’t imagine the dynamic playing out quite the same in a college crowd.

He really sticks with his theme: “Words when said and articulated in the right way can change someone’s mind. They can alter someone’s belief.”

Each story he shares builds on that theme. Each story serves to reinforce that idea. He has a cute moment talking about his son. He has a great bit about the problems of scientific lingo.

But near the end, when he talks about things being “clear”– I just wish he would’ve laid off the overacting. It doesn’t take away from his message at all. I have no doubt he was completely sincere in that moment. Instead, I think he could’ve relished in the simplicity of a serious statement, especially after he spent most of his stage time working up to that moment.

When you put a lot of work and effort (correctly) into your setup, you should let things coast in the end.

Grade: B+ 

Published by Jon Dao

Formerly, the Conversation Coach

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