Australian Wins World Champion of Public Speaking Title
After 36 years and 380 contests, Jock Elliott captures the coveted title.
By Paul Sterman
Persistence paid off for Jock Elliott, who on Saturday, August 20, won the 2011 World Championship of Public Speaking. The resident of Bongaree, Queensland, Australia, has participated in nearly 380 Toastmasters speech contests in his 36 years as a member. This was his sixth time competing in the world championship finals—the most ever for a Toastmaster. For Elliott, the sixth time was a charm.
“Thank you for more than a lifetime of challenge, opportunity and friendship,” he said in accepting the first-place award in front of a capacity audience of nearly 2,000 people from 50 countries.
Elliott won the judges over with a speech that reflected on relationships with family, friends and romantic partners. In his case, the latter referred to his wife, Robyn (also a Toastmaster). Laced with insights and eloquence, Elliott’s presentation, “Just So Lucky,” took a jab at society’s infatuation with social media. He emphasized the need for human connections over online connections, noting that we count on people closest to us to be there in times of trouble.
Appreciate these “ties that bind,” Elliott urged. “If we treasure these ties, nurture these ties, then we’ll have all the luck we’ll ever need—and we won’t need Facebook.”
Second- and third-place winners in the contest—which was held during International Convention at Bally’s hotel in Las Vegas—were Kwong Yue Yang of Guangzhou, Guangdong, China, with his speech “Fortune Cookie,” and Scott Pritchard of Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., with his speech “Roscoe’s Words.” The 2011 Taped Speech Winners (a category for members of undistricted clubs) are: First place, Rozmina Rana; second place, Okoth Okombo; third place, Sonali S. Shah. All three are from Nairobi, Kenya.
A Long Journey
The last round of the World Championship capped a contest that began six months ago with 30,000 participants from 116 countries. The finalists came from places ranging from Hollywood, California, to Berlin, Germany, to Rotorua, New Zealand. As always in this annual event, the performances were outstanding, with speakers touching on a wide range of topics. Olivia Schofield (from Berlin) spoke about overcoming a speech impediment. Phil Barth, of Batavia, Ohio, told of how a roller-coaster ride solved his midlife crisis. Several of the finalists talked about the powerful impact of their mothers.
In his own presentation, Elliott offered several nuggets of playful humor. He said he and his siblings had their differences over the years—like most brothers and sisters—but that hadn’t dimmed their love for each other. “Blood is thicker than water,” said Elliott—“and nobody is thicker than my brother.”
For this Australian speech coach, it was indeed a long road to victory in the World Championship of Public Speaking. But the path he took was part of the ultimate prize, says Elliott, noting that if he had won the title years ago, “I might have been a richer speaker, but not a better speaker.”