Lessons Learned from a 2013 Toastmasters World Champion of Public Speaking Finalist

29-year old, Shurooq Al Banna, is the first Arab to compete in the finals of the Toastmasters World Champion of Public Speaking contest. She is a Master of Strategic Marketing graduate from the University of Wollongong in Dubai. Her prize-winning speech, Finding the Pearl, touched on the importance of looking past people’s external appearances to find the good inside.

Listen to the interview here – I promise it is worth every second!

Here are just a few of the lessons I learned from Shurooq:

More than Words

Winning speeches are more than just the words that come out of your mouth. Practice in different settings, around different people and using different techniques. Move your body. Let your hands flow. Really get into performing on stage.

Shurooq would often practice her speeches blindfolded!

Be Original

When you spend time watching other speeches on YouTube, you may unintentionally start mimicking what you’ve seen. In order to remain original, you need to focus on the “magic” within you. Find a unique spin to a old story. Make it your own and you will be memorable every time you leave the stage.

Go with the Flow

Shurooq didn’t write her champion speech until AFTER she won the semi-finals! While it’s important to have a few ideas at your disposal, sometimes the best ideas come to you when you least expect it.

Focus on the Journey

Rather than focusing on winning, focus on where you are in the journey. If you only focus on winning the competition, where is there to go from there? If you focus on the moment, the possibilities are limitless!

A Trophy Doesn’t Make You a Winner

When you share your message with the audience, you have already won! Your words have the ability to impact other people’s lives in amazing ways. Use them to share your story with the world.


Did you see Shurooq’s winning speech? What did you think? Did you learn something new after listening to my interview with her? Share your thoughts below!

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