World Champions of Public Speaking

Toastmasters is a community of over 345,000 members in 15,900 clubs in over 140 countries. Each year thousands of those members gather for the annual convention, culminating with the final round of an International Speech Contest, to produce the World Champion of Public Speaking. For readers not already familiar with Toastmasters, check out my introduction to the organisation here.

In this blog post my aim is to showcase the best speakers in Toastmasters by providing a selection of previous speech winners from the World Champion of Public Speaking.

Before we jump into the speeches, first a quick note on how the contest works… a panel of experienced Toastmasters judges evaluates nine contestants from different parts of the world, all of whom have advanced to the final following a year-long elimination process through club, area, district and semifinal competitions. Contestants deliver five-to-seven minute speeches on wide-ranging topics. The judging criteria includes speech content, organisation, voice quality and gestures.

2017: Manoj Vasudevan

The winner of the 2017 World Championship of Public Speaking was Manoj Vasudevan. His speech was titled “Pull less, bend more” and told the tale of Manoj’s quest to find a life partner.


2016: Darren Tay

Darren Tay, a 27-year-old Singaporean lawyer, became the 2016 Toastmasters International world champion of public speaking with a speech called “Outsmart;Outlast”. Darren’s speech shared a personal story that deconstructed the audience’s perception of dealing with conflict and hardship.

Hey loser. How do you like your new school uniform? I think it looks great on you.


2015: Mohammad Qahtani

With a humorous speech titled “The Power of Words,” Mohammed Qahtani, a security engineer from the Saudi Arabia, won the title of 2015 World Championship of Public Speaking. His winning speech was a personal tale about events in his own life where, “if words had been said differently, they would have elicited a radically different response.”

Words are power. Words can be your power. You can change a life, inspire a nation, make this world a beautiful place.


2014: Dananjaya Hettiarachchi

With a humorous speech titled “I See Something,” Dananjaya Hettiarachchi, a human resource specialist from Sri Lanka, won the title of 2014 World Championship of Public Speaking. His winning speech was a personal tale about being a rebellious teenager whose life was changed because mentors took an interest in him.

I see something in you… but I don’t know what it is.

The message of “I see something” is that anyone has the potential to be great, even if they’ve long abandoned their greatest aspirations.


2013: Pres Vasilev

The title of 2013 World Champion of Public Speaking was awarded to Presiyan Vasilev, a professional salesman from Illinois, for his speech titled “Changed by a Tire.” His speech was about the personal experience of reaching out and asking for help.

I stopped to change a tire; instead the tire changed me. I believed reaching out was a weakness, but I discovered my weakness was in refusing to reach out.

To learn more about Pres Vasilev’s keynotes, training, and coaching, visit

I had the pleasure of speaking with Pres Vasilev as part of a growing series of interview posts.

2012: Ryan Avery

Ryan Avery from Oregon, was selected as the 2012 World Champion of Public Speaking. His speech titled “Trust is a Must” was about the importance of keeping promises. At the age of 25, Avery was the youngest winner of the competition ever.

To learn more check out the excellent interview with Ryan Avery over at 6 minutes blog.