Talented speakers on show

As a presentation skills trainer in Finland, I know that public speaking doesn’t come naturally to shy Finns. But the Talk The Talk event put that to the test in the Concert Hall of Helsinki’s Musiikkitalo on Monday, 12 November, 2018.

Ten specially coached speakers stood in front of a sold-out audience of more than 1,000 people that was also live-streamed across the Internet to thousands more. At the end of the event, the audience was invited to vote for their three favourites through a web app on their smartphones.

The pressure was on!

Each presenter talked about different things: taking a break from social media, competitive ice skating, the importance of science, the power of appreciation, the idea that everyone is a leader, starting world peace from your kitchen, modern relationships, what true strength is, feelings about being different and integration into a new country.

It’s the mark of a professional that you sound unique and speak with your own voice when presenting. I was surprised to see that all of these young speakers had already developed their own personal style. That can sometimes take years of practice!

Other things were common to the presenters, too. They all showed confidence in front of the audience, had strong but unassuming body language, used English skillfully (as far as I know, none of them were native English speakers), carefully structured their talks around a narrative with a message, used simple slides (if they used slides at all), showed a good sense of humour, and made an emotional impact on the audience with good, clear points and touching personal anecdotes.

I was very impressed with their techniques and abilities. Their newly-acquired skills will take these young people far.

Their coaches are clearly excellent teachers and mentors. Kudos to Armi Toivanen, Bruce Oreck, Baba Lybeck, Elina Aalto, and Kai Bäckström for leading the next generation of Finnish communicators.

The whole programme was very entertaining. Congratulations to all!