Speaker, Leader, Champion: Conversation with Jeremey Donovan

Created: Wednesday, April 23, 2014, posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 4:00 am

Updated: at



Jeremy DonovanJeremey Donovan is Group Vice President of Marketing at Gartner Inc., the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company with $1.6 billion in annual revenue. During his career, Jeremey has led successful teams focused on market research, new product development, marketing, acquisitions, and product management. He is a three-time TEDx organizer, a TEDx speaker, a coach for many TED and TEDx speakers, and long-time member of Toastmasters International. His other books include What Great Looks Like, How To Win the Toastmasters World Championship, and How To Deliver A TED Talk: Secrets Of The World’s Most Inspiring Presentations.

In this conversation, Jeremey discusses his new book, Speaker, Leader, Champion: Succeed at Work Through the Power of Public Speaking.

Geetesh: Tell us about your new book, Speaker, Leader, Champion: Succeed at Work Through the Power of Public Speaking. What was the motivation behind this book. Also tell us about your co-author.

Jeremey: As a student of effective communications, I’m always on the hunt for examples of inspiring storytelling. After deconstructing TED Talks, I turned my attention to the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking. While there are countless speeches delivered in clubs every week, I figured the winning speeches represent the pinnacle of the Toastmasters experience. However, when I started writing what became “Speaker, Leader, Champion,” I got completely stuck. You see, I had been a Toastmaster for over a decade, but I had avoided the competitive part of the journey.

Speaker, Leader, Champion: Succeed at Work Through the Power of Public SpeakingFor help, I decided to ‘phone a friend.’ Ryan Avery, the 2012 Toastmasters World Champion, and I had traded some emails mostly in admiration of each other’s work. Ryan, despite the fact that he was only 25 when we met, has an unparalleled wealth of public speaking knowledge that he gleaned from self-study, practice, and the best mentors on the planet. It did not take me long to ask if he would team up with me to write the book.

During the process, we actually wrote three completely different books but ended up throwing away the first two. We are pretty proud of the end result. It uses Toastmasters world championship speeches as examples of the kinds of techniques that people can leverage in work presentations to share their ideas and accelerate their careers.

Geetesh: Your book has many examples of Toastmasters speeches yet all the advice can be used in any speaking scenario including business presentations. Please do share some thoughts.

Jeremey: You hit the nail on the head. Every type of speech I write about, be it Toastmasters, TED, The Moth, whatever…, has techniques that can be applied in personal and professional settings.

The key is to remain authentic to the situation. Take storytelling for example. In Toastmasters, storytelling is often dramatic and highly theatrical. That level of performance would not be suitable for most corporate settings. However, the fundamental structure of stories is the same. One of my favorite personal storytelling frameworks is the Pixar Pitch. It is a 3-act structure that goes like this:

Act 1 is: Once upon a time and every day… Until one day…

Act 2 continues with: And because of that… And because of that… Until finally…


Act 3 concludes with:
And after that… And the moral of the story is…

Business stories have the same structure but use different language. Act 1 is the situation, Act 2 is the complication or opportunity, and Act 3 is the resolution. Some people call that problem solution, but I prefer the three-part version by splitting the problem into situation-complication.
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Categories: books, interviews, opinion, presentation_skills

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