Kelly Sargeant was named 2nd Runner-Up World Champion of Public Speaking in 2014 after surpassing over 32,000 participants worldwide. Kelly was the only female finalist in the 2014 competition and the only American, (female or male) to place in the coveted top three. Kelly was also dubbed as the “Best Female Public Speaker in the World” 2014 through 2015. Find out more about this dynamic speaker your District 39 Fall Conference keynote speaker in this video and in this interview.
D39: How long were you a Toastmaster before competing in Malaysia in August 2014?
Kelly Sargeant (KS): Four years.
D39: Prior to Toastmasters- what was your experience with public speaking?
KS: I did not have any experience with public speaking. Although I have always had a very outgoing personality, I was terrified to speak in front of a crowd. And to me, a crowd was three people! I joined Toastmasters to overcome my fear and it worked.
D39: Are you still competing for the World Championship of Public Speaking?
KS: No. I am now using my skills to coach contestants with the goal of coaching a champion.
D39: Where are some of the more interesting places you have travelled as a Public Speaker?
KS: I’ve spoken in Paris, France! The most interesting places were at the Pentagon and the Library of Congress! Just to be able to say that I’ve done so is an amazing sense of accomplishment.
D39: What are some of the less glamorous aspects of being a professional speaker?
KS: I honestly cannot think of anything that isn’t glamorous about what I love to do, other than having to speak early in the morning! I am not a morning person so the thought of a morning speech is just dreadful.
D39: How can we motivate ourselves and others to take leadership positions within and outside of Toastmasters?
KS: By changing your perspective. The thought of taking on leadership typically conveys taking on more responsibility. I have found that taking on leadership opportunities is actually taking control of your life! A leadership role allows you to gain the skills and the confidence to take the lead in other areas of your life. So instead of thinking of leadership as more work; think of it as taking your life by the horns and having the power to steer your life in the direction that you want!
D39: Can you talk about your mentors who helped you with your journey to the World Championship Stage?
KS: There were two women who were constant supporters, Jan Poscovsky and Linda Migura. They saw something in me. I had only been in Toastmasters for a few months when they suggested that I compete. They read my speeches and provided me with honest feedback after watching me deliver each speech. I cannot imagine where I would be without their guidance and belief in me.
D39: How did your journey to the World Championship of Public Speaking impact your leadership opportunities in your career?
KS: During my journey to the WCPS, I held numerous officer roles for my club. The skills and experience gained by taking on those roles prepared me for leadership opportunities in my career. Placing 2nd Runner-up World Champion provides me with the credibility that I need to become a professional speaker and professional coach.
D39: Can you talk about the qualities of your mentors who have helped you take other leadership positions?
KS: My most recent mentor at work always gave me challenging assignments to see if I could deliver a good work product with little or no guidance and supervision. Once he realized I could excel at these asks with little guidance, he started to give me leadership roles with more responsibility every time I excelled. I love that he gave me opportunities to prove myself. I also appreciate his acknowledgement of my success by rewarding me with a promotion.
D39: How did your service in the army help prepare you for your career in corporate administration?
KS: It helped a lot, although I did not realize it at the time. In hindsight, my military experience has helped me excel in life. My military job title was “Administrative Specialist.” I learned how to type more than 100 words a minute in the military. I also learned all aspects of being an administrative assistant; from how to answer a telephone, write a letter, filing, etc. My first corporate job was as a receptionist and I worked my way up quickly thanks to my training and experience in the military. Overall, I believe the military has helped me become disciplined and organized.
D39: How has your service as a mother of two helped prepare you for your current career?
KS: Being a mother of two young girls helps me relate to my coaching clients. I have learned how to teach in a way that people can understand and relate to younger people.
D39: Anything else you would like to add?
KS: I am so excited to share with everyone all that I’ve learned, how far I have come and what I have accomplished since changing my perspective on leadership. I am also thrilled to show everyone a strategy that I used to overcome my fears and become successful!
Kelly will be providing her keynote “The Transformational Power of Taking the Lead” and her workshop, “The Journey to the World Championship Stage” Saturday, November 11, at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. For more information about Kelly Sargeant, check out her website: www.kellysargeant.com.