‘I was a diamond in the rough but now I am shining bright’
Ramona J. Smith is an international award-winning public speaker, who prominently holds the prestigious title of the 2018 World Champion of Public Speaking. She is a powerhouse, one who was unmatched by the 30,000 people she surpassed to reign in the world championship title. She is an educator, speaker, author, blogger and poet. Ramona’s captivating speeches inspire audiences around the world. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Public Relations with a minor in Marketing, graduating Magna Cum Laude from the prestigious Baldwin Wallace University in northeast Ohio. Ramona is the mother of miracle boy Ryan, and they reside in Houston, Texas.
In her words; “When you are in the ring of life, you will face some challenges,” “You are going to get hit, you will be punched, you will be bruised. Even though you fall down and stumble, all you have to do is find whatever strength lies within you or outside you from family, friends, faith, your mentors and coaches to help pull you back up. ”
The Houston high school teacher shares her inspiring story with me in this interview
Yes. As a child I loved being in the spotlight. I would perform at talent shows; I was in the drama club, and the poetry club. I have never had a fear of public speaking. As a child, I would always fantasize about being on the stage versus sitting in the audience.
I am a secondary teacher in Houston, Texas. I teach Child Development and Human Growth & Development. I have a handsome, smart and athletic son named Ryan who is currently six years old. I love to travel, read, write, and meet new people.
Being the 2018 world champion of public speaking
I am a member of an organization called Toastmasters International. Every year since 1938, the organization has held an international speech contest.
This year over 30,000 members competed at the first level of the contest. Out of 30,000 contestants, the top 10 in the world compete at the finals and the judges vote for the World Champion.
I am the first woman to win since 2008, the second African-American woman to win in the history of the contest, and the only fifth woman to win the title since women could compete in the 1970’s.
I have been a public speaker for eight years. I am The Ladybug Speaker. I have spoken to thousands of people all across the globe, from the United States to the United Arab Emirates.
I will be launching my business the Ladybug Speaker LLC, in order to become a full-time professional speaker.
What made me Win
Practice, feedback, and originality were three keys to my feat. After every speech contest, I met with other highly qualified Toastmasters in my district for feedback. I tweaked the “little things” and was open to constructive criticism.
I practiced my speeches endlessly in order to have a smooth and natural delivery. And most importantly, I wrote my own speeches. They are from my personal life experiences.
When I get on stage I’m not afraid of “looking stupid.” I went in front of 2,000 people and made a complete fool of myself with my horrible boxing moves.
Yet, the audience connected with me because of my authenticity and transparency.
Currently, my biggest challenge is starting my speaking business from the ground up. I have to learn as I go. I have to learn from trial and error.
I will have to research and implement marketing strategies, create a business model, and a schedule. I will have to build a team and figure out how to successfully build my business and my brand.
Other Project and Activities
I am the author of the inspirational book for women “Shine Sistah Shine.” I am finalizing my E-Book, which gives readers my top ten public speaking tips.
I am preparing for my next world tour where I will be visiting Sri Lanka, India, Kuwait and Bahrain. I am creating new and exciting workshops and webinars for my clients.
The greatest reward I have receive is hearing about the goals my clients achieve after hearing me speak, reading my book, or having a one on one coaching session with me. It is rewarding transforming lives by sharing my gifts with the world.
In five years…
In five years, I will be 36. I see myself finishing my Master’s degree and starting my PhD. I see myself married with another child. I see my brand being successful and growing internationally.
I see myself having a podcast or a series or documentary. I see myself acting in movies and doing more live poetry. I see myself writing more books, and speaking in hundreds of countries to millions of people.
Almost gave it all up
Yes. In 2012, my son was two years old. He was unexpectedly diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor.
He had to undergo three brain surgeries and 30 rounds of radiation treatment. I felt like giving up on life because I blamed myself.
No mother wants to see her child going through something like that. However, God healed him. God healed me. We are both happy and thriving today, and my son is four years cancer free.
Who and what inspire me to be better
My son inspires me to be better. Before I had the responsibility of being a mom, I was lost and rudderless.
Once I knew I would be responsible for another human being (especially as an unwed mother), I knew I had to turn my life around and get back on track.
When my son was six weeks old, I re-enrolled in college and have since earned two degrees. I have to be my best because I am his example.
The reception has been phenomenal! I am a well sought after speaker, because I have the title of World Champion of Public Speaking.
This makes me an expert in my field, and people are seeking my advice, opinions, and wisdom. I feel like I am truly a global citizen because I have the opportunity to speak all across the globe.
What makes you a woman of Rubies
I am a Woman of Rubies because I am a precious stone. I was a diamond in the rough, yet now I am shining bright. I am regal like a pearl, and timeless like an emerald.
I am deep like garnet, and as strong as sapphire. I have become a warrior, a fighter, and a survivor. I have allowed the pressure, damage, and destruction of life to transform me into a limitless being. I am a mother, a giver of life, and a creator.
Appreciation for women in public speaking
I do not think women in any line of work are appreciated, as we should be. In regards to the field of speaking, it is still primarily male dominated.
Fortunately, this year three women of color took the top three championship spots in the contest. Women are making strides in this field, and will continue to do so.