Recent graduate beats out 30,000 others in public speaking competition

She wanted to have fun, tell a relatable story. It worked.

Ramona Smith, a 2017 BW graduate, recently won the Toastmasters International World Championship of Speaking.

University Relations

Ramona Smith, a 2017 BW graduate, recently won the Toastmasters International World Championship of Speaking.

She wanted to have fun, tell a relatable story.

It worked.

Ramona Smith, 31, won the 2018 Toastmasters International World Championship of Speaking held in August in Chicago.

The 2017 Magma Cum Laude Baldwin Wallace graduate and current high school teacher beat 30,000 other speakers for this prestigious title.

The competition this year was dominated by women, an unusual sight for this organization.

The Toastmasters International World Championship started in 1938, has only had five female winners including Smith, who also happened to be the second African American woman to win. However, the top three spots this year were filled by women.

The journey for Ramona was a long one that started in 2010 when she joined her first local Toastmasters club in Los Angeles.

When she moved to Cleveland to study Public Relations and Marketing at Baldwin Wallace, she put Toastmasters on hold.

In 2015, she took that hold off and entered her first international competition. She didn’t win. That didn’t stop her though. It ignited a fire within her.

Smith said her delivery, content, and structure of speeches has improved over the past eight years, and that once she has her “Tiffany Haddish moment” in preparation, she is ready to take the stage. This can be see in her winning speech titled, ‘Still Standing.’

The speech included the hardships of Smith’s life and how she is still standing and thriving.

To relate the points of her life that put her down to the audience, she used the analogy of being in the boxing ring— a sport that is internationally known and people could identify with.

Her speech was vibrant and colourful from the very beginning. With smiles and laughs as she walked on stage, Ramona was in her comfort zone.

Setting up the speech, she walked across the stage to introduce round one: college; then back to the centre of the stage for round two: marriage; and to the other side of the stage for round three: public speaking.

Each round, or topic, gave insight to Smith’s personal life and how she is still standing.

“When was the last time knocked you down… Instead of looking into a mirror of defeat, it became a window of possibilities,” she said.

Smith got on her feet again after failing college four times, is still standing after her divorce, and is now the international winner of public speaking after failing. She is still standing and winning after all those hardships.

Her speech spoke to the audience, the judges, and now to those who are following her journey as the winner. The entire performance spoke to Smith’s dream. When asked what it felt like on stage, Smith said, “Yes, I’m here.” She was present the entire time and soaking in every moment she was up on stage, telling her story.

Now that she has this title, many opportunities have opened themselves up to her. Smith has engagements in Dubai, Kuwait, Sri Lanka, and India. She said if other opportunities come her way, “I’m going.”

With interviews and articles on websites such as Business Insider, Smith is garnering well-earned attention and building her brand, The Ladybug Speaker, LLC.

Ramona Smith is living her dream of public speaking and being a motivational speaker.

“I always wanted to speak in front of a crowd of thousands and thousands of people,” she said. “There were two thousand people in that audience.”