5 Reasons Why Manoj Vasudevan Won in 2017 and not in 2015?

When ACS, CL Manoj Vasudevan became the Champion of the 2017 Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking, it generated a big buzz on the internet and social media platforms. Some people admired how well he spoke and how great his message is. Yet there are some that expressed doubts about the standard of Toastmasters. They wondered how could he won using a similar speech to the one he used in the finals of 2015 World Championship of Public Speaking? Curious about how true the allegation is and what I could learn from this spectacular win, I spent some time analyzing both speeches. With my limited knowledge, I speculated 5 reasons why he won the 2017 Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking and not the one in 2015. If you haven't watch the speeches, I highly encourage you to watch them below before reading the five points below.

1. Title 

The first and most obvious difference is the title. He titled his speech as "We Can Fix It" during his 2015 speech and he changed it to "Pull Less, Bend More" in 2017. This made a big difference. It changed the central message of the speech from one that seems to emphasize optimism to one that asks us to be more accepting and tolerant. It also has the second impact of having one thing that connects the speech from the moment the title is announced to until after his speech. You might point out "We Can Fix It" has a similar second impact because it linked the start of the speech until the end of the speech. Yes, it is linked from the start until the end of the speech but what about after the speech? This brings us to reason number two.

2. Actionable Call to Action 

Instead of leaving the audience with only the vague hope of "We Can Fix It",he gave something that they can apply directly into their life: "Pull Less, Bend More". It is a call to action that is memorable and easily actionable. One could just say yes to an invitation from people in their lives that they've always rejected. They could also let people in their lives be who they are.

3. Timing

Google Trends is a great place to check on what people are interested in during a period of time. His message of demanding less and accepting more tend to be more appealing compared to other contestants. This is because just two weeks before the finals, there is a spike in search terms related to war. War normally happens due to countries pulling too hard and not bending at all thus his message resonates with the general public during that time.  He presented the right message at the right time.

Screenshot from Google Trends with Search Terms of Nuclear War, World War 3, Nuclear Bomb and North Korea War
from 1st of May 2017 until 31st August 2017

4. Involving the Audience

By involving, I don't mean having them say what you want them to say but to actually involve them in your story. If you take a look at the screenshot below, you'll see that he involves his audiences 3 times in his 2017 speech compared to only 1 time during his 2015 speech. This totally changed the feeling of his speech. It change from him talking to his audience to him talking with the audience. If you click on the picture below to see a bigger version of it, you'll see that he triggers his audiences to recall their own memory before he makes an important point. This is very important because this will help the audiences see themselves in the characters in his story thus relating more to his message. Personally, when he asked, "Have you pulled too hard", I have images of I myself pulling to hard flooding into my head. I think this is why people related to this speech more.

2015 Speech Script on The Left and 2017 Speech Script on The Right

5. Only Put What's Important

When I used a website to compare the differences between Manoj's speech in 2015 and his speech in 2017, I noticed one thing. He only put what's important in his speech. He took out parts that doesn't move forward his main points. For example : His mother doing yoga on the floor, they are having problems of problems and so on. I personally find that while these sentences provide good laughs but it distracts the audiences from his important points. He also did put what's important into his speech. For example, he introduced his wife's name early on so that we know her earlier as compared to introducing her at the end of the speech. He also added the part where he lamented on how the world is breaking apart and yet Toastmasters is proof that his point is valid. I believe he had put great effort into distilling what has already been a great speech into one that is a winning speech.

Comparison between Manoj's 2015 and 2017 Speech. Red Color parts are Omitted in 2017 and Green Colored Parts are Added in 2017


Making into the final round of World Public Speaking takes a lot of skill yet winning it takes everything that one has. All the speakers who made it into the finals are world class speakers thus they will need everything they could muster to differentiate themselves. Of course, like what has been shared by world champions in Speaker, Leader, Champion, the most important part of participating in World Championship of Public Speaking is not to win but to improve yourself and share your message to the world.

Feel free to comments and give feedback on how I could improve more. If you have a topic that you wouldd like to know and think that I might be able to give you interesting perspectives, don't be shy to ask. ^^


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