By Toastmasters International
With a humorous speech titled "Changed by a Tire," Presiyan Vasilev, a 30-year-old sales professional from Chicago won the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking on Saturday.
Vasilev, along with eight other final contestants, reached the championship level after several elimination rounds that began six months ago with 30,000 participants from 122 countries.
"This is a dream come true," said Vasilev, a native of Bulgaria. His speech resonated with a capacity crowd of nearly 1,600 from around the world who attended the contest held in the Duke Energy Center in Cincinnati. His winning speech was about the personal experience of reaching out and asking for help.
"I stopped to change a tire. Instead the tire changed me," he said. "I believed reaching out was a weakness, but I discovered my weakness was in refusing to reach out."
Vasilev joined Toastmasters three 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, "Toastmasters is the best personal development laboratory you can find."
Vasilev immigrated to the United States 11 years ago from Sofia, Bulgaria, in search of "multicultural variety" and self-improvement. He found his voice in Toastmasters, where he joined six clubs in Chicago.
"I love competing, and I have benefited from the wonderful support of my Toastmasters family," he said. Vasilev says he looks forward to returning the favor and wants to use his championship experience to mentor others. His advice: "Never give up!"
Speakers delivered five- to seven-minute speeches on wide-ranging topics, and were judged on content, organization and delivery.
Vasilev claimed the title of Toastmasters' 2013 World Champion of Public Speaking during the organization's annual convention in Cincinnati from Aug. 21-24.
Second- and third-place winners were Shurooq AlBanna from Dubai, United Arab Emirates with her speech, "Finding the Pearl," and Kingi Biddle from Rotorua, New Zealand, with his speech titled "My Sitting Place."