What’s Mark Brown, winner of the 1995 World Championship of Public Speaking, talking about? You’ll find out today – on the table.
Today we’re talking to Mark Brown, winner of the 1995 World Championship of Public Speaking. Good morning, Mark.
Kim Krajci: How are you today?
MLB: I am feeling so great and I’m honored to be able to spend some time with you todya.
KK: Thank you. Where are you right now?
MLB: I’m home in a little town called Lizella, Georgia, some two hours south of Atlanta, having returned last night at 1 a.m. from a week of speaking in Colorado.
KK: Colorado, and you’re going to be in Cleveland. You must travel a lot.
MLB: Actually, I travel close to 100 days a year on the job because I am a full-time professional speaker at the moment, so yes, I do travel quite a bit.
KK: How long have you been in Toastmasters?
MLB: Wow, I’ve been in Toastmasters for about 22 years. I became a member in the spring of 1993.
KK: And you won the world championship in 1995? You must have come in with some pretty amazing skills.
MLB: Well, you know, I often get that question, but I think I was blessed and fortunate with some basic skills. But I really appreciate the Toastmasters program. I took to it right away and actually found myself in the World Championship in 1994 after being in only 14 or 15 months. And then I went again in 95, on my second round. I was able to win the World Championship. It has been quite a ride for the last 20 years. I can’t believe it’s been 20 years, but I tell people I did win in the previous millenium, and I have the old VHS videotape to prove it.
KK: Technology has certainly changed.
MLB: Indeed it has, yes.
KK: Looking back, have you seen the World Championship’s type of speech has changed?
MLB: Since I’ve competed back in 1994 and 95, one of the most significant changes, I think, has been the use of humor in Toastmasters’ speeches to win contests. I have found that most contestants do their best to incorporate humor. They want you to think, to feel, to laugh, to have an emotional response and also a call to action – all in seven minutes. The addition of humorous content is the most significant change I’ve seen since I first began to compete 21 years ago. The other thing I think may be coming down the road is that there may be an increased use of props. The most popular prop I’ve seen in Toastmasters speech contests has been a chair. It has been used for various reasons, in various ways, and used by contest winners as well. I think with the advent of technology, I will not be surprised if, in the near future, we don’t see Powerpoint or some other electronic visual aid being used in speech contests down the road.
KK: That’s really interesting. It presumes there’s going to be availability of that sort of thing at the various levels of the contests. That there will be a Powerpoint project at area, and at division and at district. I don’t know that we’ve got such things, but it’s an interesting thing to think about.
MLB: The reason that I say that is I actually had a discussion about this, in a Facebook group recently, where it was raised by fellow Toastmasters, and they said, the consensus seemed to be that the way things are these days, it will not be a surprise. I’m also a member of the National Speakers Association. Quite recently, I’ve noticed several presenters using Powerpoint slides. At Toastmasters conventions and at conferences, speakers, including keynote speakers or guest speakers come with a laptop and a remote control unit and they use slides. And now, again, we’re 21st century. Projectors are getting smaller and smaller and smaller, and sometimes it’s quite easy to use a small projector, a portable projector that one can carry oneself and use them in competition. Who knows? It may be five years, it may be three. I have no idea, but I would not be surprised if that does become part of a Toastmasters speech contest.
KK: Looking back at your speech, has it aged well?
MLB: Has my speech aged well? I think it has, to a degree. Because, truth be told, full time now I speak in schools across North America to junior and senior high school students, on topics that relate to relationships, how we treat those who are different. In my speech, 20 years ago, I used the analogy of the Disney film Beauty and the Beast to make my point. I’ve taken that seven minute speech and have converted it into a 45 minute youth keynote presentation which I still give to this day, based on the speech I gave 20 years ago. The content has aged very, very well, and I’m still a bit surprised to hear people who I meet around the world who can tell me about the speech I gave 20 years ago, who tell me how much they enjoyed it and what it meant to them. So I guess the short answer is, surprisingly, happily, yes, it has.
KK: That’s just amazing that you’ve been able to parlay this into a big thing, something that supports you, outside of Toastmasters.
MLB: The thing is, I think the main reason for that is, quite frankly, is the universal message that was not time sensitive. It wasn’t linked to an era or a date in time; it was on a principle. A concept of how do we treat those who are different, and the three main points I raise in my speech are intolerance, indifference and ignorance. Those are three universal phenomena. We all see intolerance, we all understand ignorance, we all face indifference. It carries along a universal message that is timeless, and I realize I can still use the same concept 20 years later and people still get it. That, to me – not because it was my speech, I was well coached – but that to me is the essence of a good contest speech or a good speech. Will it last the test of time? Can it still be relevant 20 years down the road? Thankfully, in my case, the answer is yes.
Mark Brown – DTM?
KK: What awards have you won in Toastmasters? Are you a DTM?
MLB: No. I’m often asked that question, “Mark, are you a DTM?” and the answer is no, I have the old ATM – Able Toastmaster designation, and I will have been unable to attempt the DTM because I’m a full time pro speaker and my job does take me all over the country, 100 plus days a year at a time, and I could not give service, a year of service to my district, which is a requirement to get the DTM. I even had a discussion with a past international president about other ways to be able to be a DTM, because my service does take me all over the world. But he told me no, one has to be able to serve one’s district for one year. I didn’t have the opportunity to, in good conscience, to be able to have anyone say I’ve served. If I can’t serve, I will not even attempt to get the designation. It’s been my way of life for the last 22 years, and so it is.
KK: But you don’t have an Advanced Communication Gold? For all your speaking.
MLB: The thing is, because of all my travels take me to different city every day, it is unusual for me, quite honestly, Kim, to leave Georgia on a Monday, return late Friday or midnight Saturday morning, having spent four nights in four cities in four hotels all across the country. So I literally am on the move frequently. As a result because I travel on Monday, my local club meets on a Monday night. I often gone on a Monday when they have meetings. When I am in town – so summer, quite often – I’ll be attending meetings much more regularly. It does become difficult to maintain membership when I travel as much as I do. But I will tell you this, I’m a member of Toastmasters. I haven’t missed a year. I haven’t missed a single dues payment and I will continue to maintain my membership as long as I’m alive.
KK: You’re coming to Cleveland next month.
MLB: Yes, indeed, I’m looking forward to it.
KK: We’ll try to arrange some warm weather for you, poor Georgia boy.
MLB: I’m prepared to come to Cleveland with my woolen hat, my gloves and my jacket. I’ll bring a surprise as well when I get there. I won’t tell you what it is, or it wouldn’t be a surprise, Kim.
KK: I will look forward to it. Thank you so much for spending time with us today.
MLB:The pleasure was indeed mine. I truly am eager to see you, to serve you and to you and your fellow Toastmasters, I wish you every blessing.
Mark Brown is coming to our District 10 2015 Spring Conference. You won’t want to miss his presentations as our keynote speaker. You can register for the conference at our website, District10 dot org.
We’re hosting a meetup at the conference for those people interested in getting their DTM. At 3 p.m. during the refreshment break, if you want to talk about getting your award, working with a partner, mentor or team, we’ll be “speed-meeting” to help you find others on the same path. Working together makes the hard work of the DTM much easier – we want to make that happen for you. Be on the lookout for red balloons – we’ll be waiting for you there.
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