When Manoj Vasudevan took the stage ahead of his winning speech in the finals of the Toastmasters International World Championship of Public Speaking, he saw an audience that looked worn out and ready to leave.
He knew he would have to make some adjustments to his presentation.
Toastmasters is the largest public speaking training organisation in the world, and its competitions typically take place in the morning.
The 2017 finals, however, took place at night, and Vasudevan told Business Insider he could immediately see many of the audience members were fighting through jet lag and empty stomachs.
He decided he would dial back his enthusiasm slightly, so as not the assault them with a high energy level. He’d cut a couple of his jokes, too, for the same reason. Similarly, he added a few words or phrases to bolster something he said had resonated with the audience.
The guiding principle that allowed him to improvise, he said, was: “They remember the message. They may forget everything I said, but they remember the message.”
Through a series of anecdotes, Vasudevan explained how people are inclined to either find a quick fix to or run from their problems, and that conflicts of all sorts could be avoided if people are self-aware enough to set aside their egos and be more flexible.
The exact words he used to communicate this weren’t important, he told us. Interestingly, Vasudevan gave a version of this speech in the 2015 Toastmasters International world championship, and it brought him third place. This year’s performance, however, is tighter and stronger for it. Vasudevan pulled it off this year by cleverly reading the audience, which he was able to do by sticking to his principle.
He said it applies to presentations of all kinds. When developing one, he told us, you should have every line you say pass the test, “Does this further my message?”
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