Inspire! Write a speech that moves audiences!

I go to Toastmasters to embrace my fear of public speaking. I am a Toastmaster because I have something to say and I want to learn to say it well. Do you ever feel that way? … Do you want to tell your story and inspire audiences. Me too. But how?


To find out, I looked at the World Championship of Public Speaking, specifically Jeremey Donovan’s book, How to Win the World Championship of Public Speaking. I watched the winning speech of Dananjaya Hettiarachchi, World Champion in 2014. Jeremey is theory; Dan is practice. Putting them together we get concrete tips for any inspirational speech.


I have selected four areas: Topic / Opening / Catchphrase / Connection.

We’ll look at Jeremey’s tips first and then at Dan’s winning speech I See Something.

(Note: For a summary of Jeremey’s 51 tips click here.)


Every speech, starts with … a TOPIC.

Pick a topic that is personal and universal. Ask yourself, what struggle am I experiencing? What struggles do we share? A topic that you are passionate about adds emotion, but be sure it will also interest your audience.


Next, find your core message. What did you learn that you can give your listeners? Dan’s topic is self-doubt “we often feel broken and lost”. His core message is “great people piece us back together.”


Your topic deserves a strong OPENING:

Open with a question, a story, or an image. An image creates a visual metaphor. A personal story builds rapport. A compelling question grabs attention. Dan uses a rose as an image. He tells a story that shows him as a character with flaws. His question “Do you know what makes you special?” gets our attention.


Another device to grab attention is a CATCHPHRASE.

A catchphrase is about 6 words – short and memorable. It broadcasts your core message. Repeat your catchphrase in the introduction, body, and conclusion. Using it in your title forces you to stay on message. Dan’s catchphrase “I see something in you” leaves a clear and lasting impression.



How do you connect to a diverse audience? Simple: simple language, no slang, no offensive stereotypes. Use characters that appeal to men and women. Remember, connections are made between equals. Let someone else be the wiseguy. Show us your vulnerability, your imperfections, your ability to laugh at yourself.


Paying attention to your Topic, Opening, Catchphrase, and Connection will result in a solid, engaging, inspirational speech.
To see how Dananjaya Hettiarachchi puts theory into practice, click here.

Founder, Center Berlin Toastmasters