World Stage Speakers

Ramona Smith

2018 World Champion of Public Speaking

On Saturday August 25, 2018, Ramona J. Smith of Houston, Texas, U.S.A, District 56, became the 2018 World Champion of Public Speaking. Her contest speech, Still Standing was delivered to an audience of nearly 2,000 people from around the world during the finals of the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

Smith is a high school educator, speaker, author, blogger and poet and is only the fifth woman to capture the title of World Champion of Public Speaking title since the contest’s inception in 1938.

In this episode, Smith offers a glimpse into her journey and what she learned along the way. We get an insight into her championship winning speech and how she uses the analogy of a fight in a boxing ring to share how she was able to overcome her failures, including a divorce and dropping out of college not once, but four times. Through all her hardships, Smith was never down for the count. We also learn a little about her miracle son, Ryan.

Ramona J. Smith can be reached at RamonaJSmith.com.

You can watch Ramona’s winning speech, or catch her semi-final speech along with the entire competition at Toastmasters-On-Demand.

Yolanda Bynum

2017 1st Place Semifinalist Winner World Champion of Public Speaking 

As Chief Executive Officer, Daniel Rex leads the Toastmasters World Headquarters team in providing service, resources and support to 352,000 members in 16,400 clubs in 141 countries. He works closely with the International President and the Board of Directors to develop the future of Toastmasters and create and execute plans and strategies to reach those goals.

Rex has worked for Toastmasters for 27 years, and during that time he has led several departments at World Headquarters, giving him a unique perspective and an impressive depth of knowledge of the organization. In 2008, he assumed the role of Executive Director, a title that was changed to Chief Executive Officer in 2013. Rex’s previous positions include Deputy Executive Director, Director of Communications and Marketing, Marketing Division Manager, and Membership Manager.

Rex holds a BA degree in Modern Languages from Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah, and an MBA in International Management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona. He holds certificates from the Leadership for Senior Executives course through Harvard Business School, and the Executive Leadership Program through the University of California, Berkeley. He completed the Strategic Leadership Programme through the University of Oxford.

In addition to his Toastmasters duties, Rex serves as a member of the Key Global Associations Committee (KGAC) of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE).

Kelly Sargeant

2014 2nd Runner-Up World Champion of Public Speaking

Kelly’s public speaking experience, combined with her work in the entertainment, legal, engineering, and oil and gas industries for many years, has provided her with the tools to work with people from all walks of life and coach all different types of personalities. Through her experience, she has discovered that even the most successful high level executives sometimes struggle with delivering effective presentations in front of audiences. Kelly knew that she could do something to help these executives, so she developed a system that shows executives how to communicate their ideas in the most effective manner to end their struggles. Her system is entitled, “Own Your Moment!” Simply put, she coaches leaders on how to:

Own Your Stage – Take command of your platform with a powerful stage presence and connect with your audience
Own Your Story – Speak with conviction and make your message relatable and memorable
Own Your Success – Represent your leadership position by presenting your subject matter expertise with confidence

​After working with executives on their speaking and presentation skills, and as they improved, Kelly became passionate about devoting her professional life to empowering others and helping them improve their communication skills. She now delivers keynote speeches to companies about the art of effective presentations, as well as other topics.

In 2014, Kelly was named 2nd Runner-Up World Champion of Public Speaking after surpassing over 32,000 contestants worldwide. She was also the only female finalist in the competition and the only American to place in the coveted top three. As no female contestants were among the 10 finalists vying for the title the following year, she was dubbed as the “Best Female Public Speaker in the World” for two consecutive years.

Kelly also enjoys donating her speaking services to non-profit organizations, such as emergency shelters for women and children, transitional and half-way houses; as well as high schools and universities. She founded a non-profit company, Chosen To Inspire, where she works with underprivileged and underserved groups to set goals and teach skills for personal and professional development. She helps them build self-confidence so that they can become more independent and transition back into their communities.