Semi finalist Kopano Kwapeng

I am from Good to Great Speakers Club, Division A.  I have been a Toastmaster since August 2020.

Honestly, I can’t trace it back to a particular time. However I grew up being a very outspoken child, so I believe I grew the confidence and competence over time as I got opportunities to develop the skill in the various extra mural activities and leadership positions I got growing up. I would say that was the foundation for the passion.  However, in relation to my adult years, I believe I chose to develop my public speaking based on the recognition that every aspect of our lives succeeds or fails on the back of communication, so the value of effective communication became much clearer to me as an individual, leader and business person, I thought it’s a great opportunity to develop that competence if I plan to be successful or effective in my leadership pursuits.

The core message was that “words are powerful seeds, let’s use them positively & wisely”. This message is a key reminder for every person who interacts with others verbally. However I believe it’s especially critical for any role model who holds a position of influence, because their words carry even more weight. I was prompted to share this message after an unpleasant experience I had recently at the hands of a close relative who is careless with words. This triggered me to want to remind people of the power & impact of our words first, but most importantly that words also have consequences and so as people we must be aware and conscious of the consequences of our words both for ourselves, others and the legacy we leave  behind. It was a message of consciousness.

On a personal note; speaking is really one of my greatest gifts- the progression served as an affirmation. Professional public speaking is more technical than most people think- there are many things that need to come together to construct a compelling speech. Getting support for the journey is critical- getting external ears and eyes to give you feedback is critical. Competitive speaking is taxing and demands a lot of commitment and sacrifice. I had to practice for hours on end, both to memorise the speech but to also try out various iterations of the speech in order to decide which is the best version that serves my story and also connects with my speaking style the most. Practice, practice, practice.

On a lighter note- I learnt that I need to change my network- as I always stressed about connectivity during contests and literally had to migrate from one neighbor to another on contest days as my network was unstable.

My goal was to deliberately stretch and challenge myself by putting myself in the heat of the competition, to grow my speaking competence via the contest and to enjoy myself throughout the learning journey.

Firstly, be authentic in your speaking and speak about the things you care about. Secondly take advantage of every opportunity you get to practice and to get better and make the most of it. Make it fun for yourself so that you remain motivated to keep at it. Lastly, do it with support, get into a small safe team, get a coach or a mentor for the journey, share your goal with them so that they can encourage your, support  and hold you accountable along the way.