You are Already a Champion: Meeting Ramona J Smith

By Janice Litvin

You could feel the excitement in the air on Friday night at the District 57 pre-conference dinner, featuring Ramona J. Smith, the 2018 World Champion of Public Speaking. I felt honored that I was going to get the opportunity to meet the world champion, herself. When we arrived at the venue, there was already a line of people waiting to take selfies with Ramona. She treated each individual with the same level of respect as you would treat your mother. That was my first impression. Ramona did not stand on airs. Rather, she spoke to us as plainly as if she were speaking to her best friends. As Patricia Fripp, executive speech coach and the first female president of the National Speakers Association, always says, “when you speak from a stage, act like you are sitting at your dining room table chatting with your best friends.” That is certainly the way Ramona made us feel, both on and off the stage.

Camille Miller deftly opened the meeting with her enthusiasm which served to enhance the excitement even more. As you no doubt are aware by now, Camille, herself won the International Speech Contest and will be representing D57 at the quarterfinals. She reminded us that Ramona is the 5th woman ever to receive her illustrious title and the second African American woman. In addition she was part of the first ever all-woman trifecta of winners, along with Zifang “Sherri” Su and Anita Fain Taylor.

As the chorus of We are the Champions played, the excitement continued to build. We simply could not wait for Ramona to start speaking.

She humorously taught us to embrace our differences, as well as our commonalities as Toastmasters and as people.

She taught us to discover the champion within ourselves. We are reflections of each other. Every time you discover something you dislike in someone else, it’s time to do some self-reflection. Discovering the champion in you means going deep within and discovering what you need to improve as well as acknowledging what is already working in your life.

She explained that winning the trophy did not make her a champion. It simply introduced everyone else to her. She knew she was a champion before she got on that stage. She challenged us to define and acknowledge the champion living within ourselves, not by measuring some external, tangible proof to give us validation.

Discovering the champion within means acknowledging that we already have everything within to accomplish whatever we are dreaming about. Take a look at what you’ve already accomplished.

Often we take our accomplishments for granted. These accomplishments make us truly amazing. Sometimes we are our own worst critic. That is not how you discover the champion within.

She gave us three ways to discover the champion within: remember, reward, and remind.

Remember those championship moments in your life, even if you have to write them down. These can include moments when you stepped up to help a friend. That’s a championship moment. Championship moments include things we do every single day.

Reward yourself for all of your hard work by “taking six” hours out of the month to dedicate to you, alone.

Remind yourself how great you are. Talk to yourself in the mirror, “hey you champion, you look awesome today, you are amazing.”

Be kind to yourself in words and thoughts. Sometimes we’re the last people to realize that we are champions.

Everything you need is already within, not what you have, but who you are and the way you treat others.

Wayne Dwyer said, “If you are what you have, who are you if you don’t have it.”

What makes you special and unique? Are you tapping into those qualities? Have you written that book you’ve been thinking of writing? Or have you developed that app you’ve been thinking of developing?

Ramona is living her dream. She knew she wanted to be a speaker at age 19. And now she is using her passion to share her dream with others, traveling all over the world.

She challenged us to live our dreams.

In her world championship speech, “Still Standing,” which you can view at her webpage (, she talks about converting her mirror of defeats into her window of possibilities. She issues a challenge to each of us to stay in the ring, whether you’re a fighter or the coach. And then, take what you learn from each hit to the next challenge in the ring.

She inspired us to get out there and reach for those challenges.

If you’re not falling down, then you are not trying hard enough.

If you are not getting stronger then you are getting weaker.

Each day is a new opportunity to reach for your dreams.

[Editor’s Note: This reflection by Janice Litvin was drawn from her opportunity to attend the Friday night May 10, “Dinner with the Champ” and hear Ramona’s Speech, “Discover the Champion Within.”]

Janice Litvin writes and speaks about workplace wellness, stress, fitness, and healthy eating, and can be found at, Twitter: @JLitvin, or To book Janice to speak for your organization email at: or call 415.518.2202