Advice from 2006 Finalists

Tip 1:
Passion. This is the most important tip of all. You need to have a genuine interest in what you are speaking about; your interest in your speech will reflect the audience’s. Pick a speech matter that is of much importance to you. A topic of significance will be easier to grip your audience’s attention.

Tip 2: Creativity: This is YOUR message to America. Do what ever you can to make your message uniquely yours! Find ways to make your speech more distinct, but don’t add things just for the sake of being different. Your speech should showcase your particular style that is unique to only you. There may be others talking about that same subject, but the way you package your speech can break or shake…the world!

Tip3: Presence: Stage presence is key in gripping the audience’s attention. Whatever speech topic you give, try to be relatable, not showy, or overbearing. Public speaking is not a performance as you would see in a theatre, it is more like a conversation with another individual .In theatre, the audience watches the projected story the actors present and accept the fact that the actors are projecting a “different” world. Eye contact between the actors and the audience is minimal, and there is a separation between the audience and two worlds. Speaking is different. Eye contact is key! The objective of the speech is to get the audience in your “world” and not in their cell phones. Your presence will be one of the important factors determining your audience’s attention.

You don’t have to be someone with experience to be in this competition. Your message is what is judged in this competition, not how many speeches you’ve done. This competitition changed me from the inside out. I entered the competition with no training whatsoever; just a heart for the underprivileged and a topic I felt had to be shared to our nation. I made it to finals and presented my first speech in front of an audience. The experience uncovered a gift I didn’t know I had-public speaking, and it all started from a passion I had toward my subject. If you love sports, write a speech about sports! If you love rabbits, speak about rabbits! Who knows! You could get a call saying you’re a finalist and an all expense paid trip to DC!

Good Luck Competitors!!!


Azah Awasum

1. Speak about what is on your heart. Whatever issue it is you most fervently want America to hear, go with it. Do not be afraid to speak about a controversial issue, if that is what you most deeply believe.

2. Don't memorize your speeches word-for-word. Know where you are going with it and specific point you would like to make within it, but if you just memorize it like a script, it can lose some of it's impact. Leave room for change, and points which might come to you as you go along.

3. Don't take yourself too seriously. Feel free to smile, and even laugh within your speech. People do not want to watch or listen to a robot.

My participation in the "Words that Shook the World" competition was a great experience. Before the competition, I was not particularly used to formal public speaking, but I cared deeply about my topic, and ended up making it to the finals! The whole experience gave me greater confidence in my ability to articulate my opinions to others, and greater confidence in myself as an individual. This confidence has allowed me to accomplish more this year than I could have possibly imagined.


1. Be interactive and exciting. I consider public speaking to be similar to theater, in that the interesting actors are the most
engaging to watch.
2. THINK about what you're saying. Public speaking is not just the reading of something in front of people. It is being able to have a conversation with a much larger "listener" than people are usually used to.
3. Pauses are always fun for emphasis, so play with them. Play with your whole speech! Experiment with pitch, and see what works! Have fun!

The competition was a whirlwind experience for me--almost like what I imagine American Idol to be like. My experience in D.C. gave me a gigantic push; although I had all the potential to achieve great things before, working with so many experienced people (the leadership team AND the other competitors) gave me the stimulation to start chasing my dreams, rather than just reaching for them.