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April 2024
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Meet the Winners of the 2021 Toastmasters International Video Speech Contest

By Stephanie Darling

This annual contest recognizes outstanding speeches by Toastmasters in undistricted clubs. Below, the 2021 winners talk about the stories and preparation behind their winning speeches.

Man in suit

First Place:

Roderick K. Grech

Mosta, Malta • Toastmasters Malta

Speech title:Want It!

My speech was born of bitter disappointment at not winning at the club level in 2020. I had high expectations that day. My 12-year-old son was with me. He asked about the colored lights, and why, in particular, I didn’t stop speaking when the red one came on.

The experience taught me two important lessons. First, feedback can come from the most unexpected places. My young son was the first to point out the time factor I dismissed. Secondly, as my ego and super ego warred the night I failed to win the contest, my mind drifted back to an experience I had at 15. It resulted in a pivotal lesson from my dad about how wanting and working for something can make it possible. That memory became the basis of my 2021 speech.


Woman wearing glasses

Second Place:

Annie Yun Bai, DTM

Mississagua, Ontario, Canada • One Country One World

Speech Title:A Piece of Relationship Advice

In my speech, I tried to give a possible solution to people struggling with family connections that were suddenly too close during the pandemic. Small conflicts were magnified. Anxiety became contagious, sometimes leading to serious domestic situations. I wanted to show that as families, we may have different characteristics, but we can choose to listen, learn, love, and lean on each other to find harmony and peace. Togetherness makes us stronger.

I included gestures, dialogue, and props because my first thought is always about the audience. Today we’re trained to be distracted by the concept of multitasking, so as speakers, we must find all sorts of ways to keep our speech interesting—and make it work with our own purpose and style. My other advice: Practice, practice, practice.


Man smiling for photo

Third Place:

Alhaji Abubakar

Austin, Texas • Virtual Professional Speakers

Speech Title:The Catalyst

My speech explores self-leadership in the service of others. The quote I shared from author Neale Donald Walsch says it all: “Your life is not about you. Your life is about the lives of everyone you touch.”

prepared for my speech as I usually do—making notes, outlining structure, focusing on the core message. Most importantly, I visualized and transported myself back to the moments that I described. (This is actually a skill I’m still working on so I can paint a more vivid picture for my audience.) Each time I practiced and told the story, I found myself going deeper and deeper into the moment, to the point where I felt I was actually there.

I still get slightly nervous when I speak. I remind myself that I have a message to share and I’m the only one who can share it in the unique way that I do. That’s true for all of us.


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