2012 TI Convention – Jock Elliott’s Session


2011 World Champion of Public Speaking Jock Elliott presented the first education session of the convention. Titled The Journey, how to win the world championship of public speaking in thirty five years or less.

Jock opened with some good humor: The only way to be sure of dying in bed is to never get out of bed. And that led into a story about a Camping trip to tropical Australia and how he took an unnecessary risk of suffering a crocodile attack.

Interesting word choice: “The water was the temperature of blood…” Australian phrase?

The story illustrated how the risk we choose to take, and the ones we avoid, are rarely as grave as swimming with crocodiles.

There are only two things we need to do to win the World Championship
1. Get into the finals
2. Learn everything Jock learned in the last 35 years (what he discussed next)

Jock competed in over 380 speech contests in those years

He said, “Don’t be afraid of the pesky member in your club that keeps winning. If you can’t beat them, you won’t beat the competition at the next level. Keep competing in that club to get better.”

Area contests – low numbers and poor judges. This was a good line: The LGET keeps all of the good judges for the division contests.

Writing in verse can create opportunities for an entertaining turn of phrase.

If it’s not fun, why are you doing it?

1989 won first district contest
1990 won again and made it to the final in Dallas – gave a speech on John F Kennedy there, which wasn’t best for that audience. “my market research was … Poor”
1993 – went 2 seconds over time
He mentioned other contests, but the feeling was a bit melancholy.

Thought on Marketing: the word market and the word audience are the same word, just spelled differently.

There was time for a question and answer session:

How do you write and prepare speeches?

He mentioned having a way to take notes when inspiration hits, including when you’re in bed.

What is your feeling on PowerPoint?

“I’m fully prepared to speak in complete dark with no sound system”
He doesn’t like to use PPT
Like all professional speakers, he keeps notes on him. “Because I have them, I don’t need them”

How do you find the energy to keep a speech fresh when you’ve told it many times?

“I have to enjoy it” – “a good speech is worth repeating, a bad speech needs repeating”

How do you slow down?

Based on audience size
800 words in semi final – comes in at 6:25-6:30 in rehearsal
700 words in final

What do you think of speakers who rehearse their gestures?
Body language is part of the speech, so should be rehearsed
Needs to be natural and appropriate

Ever participated in a humorous speech contest?
Won district 3 times

How do you practice your speeches?
On an empty football field

Have you ever lost but felt you did your best?
“How did I deal with defeat…I put on deshoes”
Recognize, strait up, that it’s a complete travesty of justice
You have to decide “I won’t be beaten”

Overall, Jock was very entertaining and provided valuable lessons about being willing to take risks and be persistent if you want to succeed. And he provided some great insights into the contest process from an experienced point of view. Personally, I look forward to seeing him present again at a future event!

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