District 21 - Stefano Cossalter - D21 International Speech Contest Champion 2020-2021

It is with great pleasure and sincere Congratulations, that we in District 96 salute one of our own Toastmasters, who also represents District 21 on his journey through this year's International Speech Contest. With his speech "The Frame That Makes the Picture", Stefano Cossalter competed and won 1st place. He has also gone on to win the Quarter Finals of the International Speech Contest for 2020, and NOW has been voted to participate in the SEMI-FINALS which will take place in August 2020.

I had the opportunity to ask Stefano some questions about his winning speech, "The Frame That Makes the Picture" and he provided me with some wonderful answers and insights on how he was able to accomplish such an incredible goal.

Stefano decided the name of his speech after he had written it a couple of times. He decided to use the phrase "The Frame that Makes the Picture" from the speech as the title as it just seemed to be the right fit that created curiosity but still represents the premise of the speech.

He started the speech a couple of years ago and he has been setting it aside until late 2019 when he decided to resurrect it and turn it into something decent. He rewrote it about 30-40 times in order to get it right and he could have rewritten it another 30 times. Stefano feels the writing process is messy. His mentor, Ian Cuniffe always said that great speeches are rewritten, not written. No matter how great a speech seems when you first write it, it is never as good as it could be so he always revisits a speech often to see what can be improved.

9 out of 10 great speeches are in the preparation so he always starts early, sometimes a year ahead of time in order to make sure he has the time to meditate on it and come up with improvements. Practice is a big part as well because he wanted to do it over and over to the point where you've memorized it but it doesn't sound memorized. He would usually practice the speech over a hundred times. For a great competitive speech, there shouldn't be a single word or movement out of place.

His District 21 winning speech was made from an old legacy project speech that he transformed for the competition.

In terms of the Inspiration for the speech, he takes major moments of change in his life and he identifies the struggle that he went through and then he identifies what it was that helped him overcome the struggle. This becomes the premise of for the speech. 

These are some suggestions Stefano has on preparing for the District Speech Competition:

  1. Start early, and prepare.
  2. Have a simple, crystal clear message you want to pass onto your audience. Too many messages or mixed messages can ruin a speech.
  3. Compete, and do your best. It is not about winning or losing, it's about being the best speaker you can be. If you loose, meditate on why and then use those learnings to become a better speaker.

There is nothing else in Toastmasters that forces you to prepare, practice and be the best you can be other than competition.