The International Speech Contest is the Superbowl of public speaking. The level of talent it attracts is astounding. And everyone who participates – whether that’s as a contestant, an organiser or a spectator – comes away from the experience enriched by it. If there’s any one defining secret of success in public speaking, it’s in fixating on serving your audience, rather than getting a particular result.

A District audience might be somewhere in the order of 300 people, each one of whom is giving you 7 minutes of their time. Taking £30 per hour as the average value of someone’s time, you’re being gifted the equivalent of more than £1,000 of life. And that carries with it the moral obligation to give your audience a gift in return.

There’s also a lot to be said for learning how to take evaluations on board. Toastmasters heavily emphasises the importance of feedback, and rightly so, but the contests taught me that receiving and implementing feedback is an art in itself. Maintaining your own authenticity in a sea of differing opinions is an ongoing discipline.

Whether you’re considering taking your first steps into public speaking or planning to enter next year’s International, I cannot recommend Toastmasters strongly enough. If in doubt, you are always welcome at Casterbridge Speakers!

Ben Sloyan Ben Sloyan

International Speech 2020/21 Contest Winner

District 91
Year Contest winner Club Division World Championship
2020-2021 Ben Sloyan Casterbridge Speakers A
2019-2020 Robin Sundstrom Holborn Speakers C
2018-2019 Sonia Aste Riverside Communicators B
2017-2018 Fabio De Sio London Business School L
2016-2017 Simon Bucknall Excalibur L World Championship – 2nd place
2015-2016 Thien Nguyen Phan St Paul’s Speakers L World semi-finals – 1st place
2014-2015 Jeremy Robinson NZICA Bank Speakers L
District 71
Year Contest winner Club Division World Championship
2013 William Dempster HOD Speakers
2012 Yvonne Jordan Enniscorthy Toastmasters World semi-finals – 3rd place
2011 Malachi Talabi Croydon Communicators World semi-finals – 3rd place
2010 Erick Rainey Manchester Orators
2009 Gareth McHale North Avon Speakers
2008 Sultan Nazir Rathfarnham Toastmasters
2007 Simon Bucknall London Cardinals Inter-District – 2nd place
2006 Simon Bucknall London Cardinals
2005 Erick Rainey Capital Communicators World Championship – 3rd place
2004 Erick Rainey Capital Communicators Inter-District – 2nd place
2003 Bob Harvey Bromley Speakers
2002 Bob Ferguson Hertfordshire Speakers
2001 Phillip Khan-Panni London Athenians Inter-District – 3rd place
2000 Brendan Toale Glasnevin Toastmasters Inter-District – 1st place
1999 Paul Ellis Lucan Toastmasters
1998 Joseph Portley Crusaders Club
1997 Brian Cluer Thurles Toastmasters
1996 Brendan Toale Glasnevin Toastmasters
1995 Phillip Khan-Panni Grosvenor Square Speakers World Championship – 2nd place
1994 Brian Cluer Thurles Toastmasters
1993 Phillip Khan-Panni Bromley Speakers Inter-District – 1st place
1992 Adrienne Daly Naas Club
1991 David Lindsey Thame Speakers
1990 Giles Robinson Epsom Speakers
1989 Muiris O’Keefe Bray Toastmasters
1988 Patricia Foley Eblana Dublin City Centre Club
1987 Michael Fennessy Grosvenor Square Speakers
1986 Betty Gosnell Oxford Speakers
1985 Marie Pyne Ennis Toastmasters World Champion of Public Speaking!
1984 Denis Vickers Thame Speakers
1983 Ray Fullam Dublin Toastmasters
1982 Stephen Johnson Mildenhall Toastmasters
1981 Harry Knox Waterford Club
1980 Dick Cullinane Waterford Club
1979 Russ McDevitt Dun Laoghaire Club
1978 Susan Cowles Oxford Speakers
1977 David Lindsey Aylesbury Speakers
1976 Bob Annenberg Aylesbury Speakers
1974 Sean Hickey Shannon Club
1973 George Brenner Shillelagh