With a suspenseful and entertaining speech titled“An Unbelievable Story,” Aaron Beverly, a 30-year-old JP Morgan project manager from Philadelphia won the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking. Beverly, along with five other final contestants, reached the championship level after several eliminating rounds that began more than six months ago with 30,000 participants from 143 countries.
“This feels surreal,”said Beverly.“This has been an amazing experience and I’m filled with gratitude to all of the people who have helped me.”
Beverly’s speech resonated with a capacity crowd of Toastmasters members from around the world, who attended the contest held at the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center near Denver. His winning speech was about acceptance despite difference and told the story of his humorous adventure as the only African American in attendance at his friend’s wedding in India.
“I picked this topic because I wanted to honor my friend who got married in India and tell the experience of both families em- bracing me,”he said.“Coming from an African American background whose grandfather had to flee the south because to race, their openness and acceptance left me in awe.”
“Aaron Beverly’s speech was brilliant and had all the elements of a spy movie,”said Ed Tate, a Certified Speaking Professional and the 2000 Toastmasters’World Champion of Public Speaking. “It included five setups and payoffs and had all of the elements: espionage, intrigue, danger, drama and deception.”
Beverly joined Toastmasters 10 years ago and competed in many speech contests before reaching his goal of earning the title of World Champion of Public Speaking. In his acceptance speech, he said, “This is amazing. If I stood up here and thanked every single person who helped me and encouraged me, I would be up here for days.”
Beverly credits Toastmasters for helping him land his project manager position at JP Morgan. Beverly plans to continue educating others on the benefits of becoming a strong public speaker, as well as teaching how communication can help people around the world to better understand their differences.
Speakers delivered five-to seven-minute speeches on wide-ranging topics, and were judged on content, organization and delivery.