Those of you who attended the District 91 Spring Conference will have seen fabulous Fabio De Sio (FDS) when he won the International Speech Contest. Fabio also won the hearts of the audience, and judges, with his unique and enchanting speech on having the courage to be true to yourself. I (Nigel Oseland – NO) was looking forward to meeting up with this charismatic young man.
NO: What did it feel like to win the International speech contest?
FDS: It was a huge surprise. I only been a member for six months and I entered the contest as a bit of a joke. I spent quite a while trying to find a suitable club to improve my English and my public speaking. I never received good feedback on my speaking, so it was amazing to win locally and then at the district conference.
NO: Did receiving negative feedback spur you on?
FDS: Yes, I always try to see positive and negative. I ask myself “why do they say that” and I look for an answer that relates to me and other people. I changed my speech quite a lot, there have been six iterations already.
NO: You certainly stood out from the crowd and your speech was very different to others.
FDS: It’s important in speech contests for me to be myself, to be Fabio. It’s the main message of my speech, to be authentic, be true to yourself. For me it is not only about speaking but also a way to explain the suffering of many people have in the world! Sometimes we think the best way is not talking about problems, but that is not right! My biggest dream is to change this mindset! In my life I have been humiliated for being gay, especially coming from a country with an old mentality, I had a difficult journey but now I have a lot of confidence and I want to inspire other people!
NO: How did you come up with your speech content?
FDS: It’s an iterative and creative process. I practice integral coaching and teach people to be unique and be themselves. I wanted to tell my journey to understand what is important to me and to others. I have had problems in life but overcome them. I wanted to show others how they can solve their issues. It is also important to use humour, I am a fun guy. Comedy helps to communicate the serious stuff, it’s best to tell a story with a laugh.
NO: How did you start in integral coaching? What is your background?
FDS: I have a Bachelor’s degree in Art from Rome and a Masters in Management from Milan. I was an event organiser for seven years, manly as a wedding planner. I then had the idea to help others to gain confidence in life, based on my own experience.
NO: How does it feel to be going to Chicago, how are you preparing?
FDS: I’m really happy, really excited, I’ve been to the States but not Chicago. I am amending my speech again, I will be practising in different clubs, and by preparing my second speech. I need to think about the big message I want to share with the world. I am looking forward to meeting with Toastmasters from all around the world and learning from their experience.
NO: Are you receiving better feedback on your speeches now?
FDS: I get wonderful feedback – feedback is one of the best aspects of Toastmasters, but you have to choose the feedback that best suits you, and don’t be too critical of yourself. When I was looking to join Toastmasters, I explained that I have a vision for a different way of presenting and my club allowed me to show them what I meant, then they invited me to join.
NO: Are you glad you joined Toastmasters?
FDS: Toastmasters was one of the best decisions I’ve made in life. It has given me the confidence to speak out and be myself. English was always a nightmare for me. I became a member to improve my public speaking, it is only to me. I’m enjoying the moment and having fun, and I get to share my message.
NO: Tell me more about your upbringing.
FDS: I am from Salerno, it is a beautiful town on the coast near Naples. I love my country, I’m very proud of it, but it isn’t always great for a young gay man like me. I moved to London five years ago to improve my English. London is multicultural, cosmopolitan and a place where you can be yourself.
NO: As is customary in my interviews, can I ask you what music you like?
FDS: I love all music. Before a contest I don’t listen to the other contestants I just play music to myself. I like Madonna and Lana Del Ray, but also classical music.