How To Beat Roger Caesar

(This post also appears today on my blog The Toastmaster.)

Roger Caesar spoke at First Oakville Toastmasters a few weeks ago as our featured speaker during our open house meeting. He blew away the crowd.

Roger has been a Toastmaster for a few years now and as emerged as a real contender to win the World Championship of Public Speaking. He’s competed twice now at the World Championship semi-finals and I believe he’s going to go all the way very soon.

So am I blowing smoke when I say you can beat Roger?openhouse2first-oakville

As the only competitor to beat Roger in the last four years I think I’m eminently qualified to offer some suggestions. Okay so it was in the provincial finals of Table Topics when I beat him and not the International but give me a break here.

(In photo: First Oakville Toastmasters VP of PR Zulma Garcia who helped organize the club’s Open House night and Roger Caesar our guest featured speaker.)

And before anyone gets politically upset that I’m suggesting we figure out ways to beat Roger I can assure you that Roger and I are on  the same page here. We want to see speakers and especially new speakers enter the International Speech Contest in their own clubs and we want them to be so successful that they too can see the possibility of winning the world title.

So what makes Roger so good and such a great competitor? What’s his secret?

The club-level International Speech Contest is normally held in January and I bet the speech we heard from Roger in November was an early draft of one of the three speeches he’s going to write and deliver in his quest for world domination.

The point here is Roger is already out practicing his International Speech and I bet you haven’t even written yours yet!

Roger dresses for success. Now I don’t care whether you think dressing appropriately is important or not. Your opinion and mine is irrelevant. It’s the judges who care and most care to see a speaker dressing in such a way as to honour his or her audience and add to the impact to their speech. If you’re wearing jeans then your speech better be about riding horses! Just saying.

At our open house Roger was introduced but didn’t start his speech for a good 10 seconds allowing the the Toastmaster to sit down and the audience to settle. This dramatic pause helped Roger to separate himself and his speech from everything that had come before him on the agenda. It was a smart thing to do.

Roger’s first words were “I believe…”

He then went on to immediately tell his audience what he was going to say in his speech and why it should be of interest, even importance, to his audience. Why this speech and why this audience is the one question you should answer early in your speech if you want your audience to stay with you for five to seven minutes. That’s what Roger did so well.

Roger uses vocal volume and variety to great advantage and his gestures are measured and practiced and add to the impact of his speech. His ability to look into the eyes of his audience members is second to none.

So is there no hope of ever beating Roger Caesar?

The good news is Roger has good days and bad days just like the rest of us. He’s not always at the height of his game in top form. You might get a day when the stars align for you and not for Roger.

But waiting for fate isn’t a plan.

So what can you do to beat Roger?

My first suggestion is don’t try to be another Roger Caesar. One is enough LOL! Be yourself. Tell your own story. Tell it from your heart. Practice, practice, practice until you can deliver your speech in your sleep. Practice in front of a mirror. It helps.

Once upon a time I had a mentee who had delivered six speeches and I insisted that she speak at our club level International Speech Contest. She was reluctant because she’d be going up against the best speakers in our club and some of our best speakers are pretty close to as good as you get in Toastmasters.

But I insisted and persisted. I told my mentee that I didn’t expect her to win. I didn’t even expect her to place. I just wanted her to have the experience of speaking before a large audience during a formal occasion. I wanted her to be nervous and afraid because I wanted her to be less nervous and less afraid the next time she competed.

Of course, you can guess what happened.

My mentee spoke from her heart about a personal situation to which all in the audience could related. And while she may not have done it perfectly, she did it perfectly enough to win our club level International Speech Contest that year.

That’s how you beat Roger Caesar.

First you show up. Second you practice, practice, practice and compete to win. Third you keep coming back until you do win.

It’s that simple and that hard. Good luck.

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