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The Toastmasters Icebreaker speech is probably one of the funnest speeches to give in Toastmasters.
You’re a new member. You’re excited to let the group get to know who you are. And if you’re like me, you’re nervous.
You might even find yourself struggling to come up with what to talk about for the ice breaker.
In this article, I’ve got you covered. I’ll share some tips to help you come across confident, relaxed and seasoned with your first speech for Toastmasters.
What is Toastmasters?
Before I get into some actionable tips, first let me touch on what Toastmasters is.
Toastmasters International is a global company that has headquarters in Englewood, Colorado in the US.
Toastmasters was founded in October of 1924 by Ralph Smedley. And it is a non-profit company that specializes in helping people to become better communicators and leaders.
The company has a network of clubs worldwide and the focus is on public speaking.
What is The Icebreaker Speech?
The Toastmasters Icebreaker speech is a speech that members give as their first speech project.
This is usually a short speech with a time limit of 4-6 minutes.
The goal of this speech is to:
- Introduce yourself to the club.
- Share your background.
- Get your feet wet with speaking in front of people.
- Gain confidence to deliver more speeches in the future.
- Lay the groundwork for some areas of improvement.
The icebreaker speech is where you talk about a topic that you should know very well. You.
You share some of your interests and aspirations. You can also tell people who you are and some of your past experiences of your life.
Tips For The Toastmasters Ice Breaker Speech
I joined Toastmasters to become a more dynamic speaker. Plus, being in sales at the time, I had a lot of presentations to give as part of the role.
Public speaking was a big struggle for me. It was embarrassing to the point where I could notice others were getting uncomfortable watching me try to deliver a presentation from the front of the room.
I had a lot of issues with public speaking, so I turned to Toastmasters. The one thing that I didn’t realize is that in the process of developing as a speaker, I also developed as a person.
I found myself succeeding and excelling in other areas of my life as I started to get public speaking handled.
Without a doubt, Toastmasters is a no-brainer if you’re in a professional role where you need to be a dynamic speaker.
But I think universally, Toastmasters will make you a more confident person and build self-esteem.
I’ve seen some people go from being quiet, shy, wallflowers to confident presenters who can’t stop talking once they’re on stage.
If you want to make this happen, it all starts with the Ice Breaker speech.
Here are some tips to help you deliver.
It’s a must that you practice. Practice in front of a friend or family member. And practice your speech at least 3 times to make sure you don’t go over your time limit.
2) Write An Outline
I recommend you get some postcards and write out your outline. They recommend that you don’t memorize your ice breaker.
Also, make sure your speech has an opening, body, and conclusion.
I was against using postcards of any kind to help me with my ice breaker. Looking back I think that was a mistake.
I tried to treat the icebreaker like it was my 10th speech. As if I was a seasoned speaker.
I recommend you ease into it and if you’re going to work on anything in your first speech, a great place to start is with your body language. Or pick one thing to focus on and more importantly focus on sharing who you are with your audience.
3) Open Strong
Make sure you engage your audience with a strong opener. I like to open with a question or statement.
One question I asked for my ice breaker was, “Does anyone in here know how to eat an elephant?”
I remember hearing a few chuckles and seeing smiles on people’s faces.
Then I heard one member answer the question with the answer, “one bite at a time.”
The topic of my ice breaker was success being a gradual process. Because throughout so much of my life, a common theme is early failure followed by success at some point down the road.
4) Leverage Resources
Read books, take courses and continue to work on yourself. This will not only help you with your ice breaker. But future speeches and other areas of your life.
One great book that I read beforehand was The Exceptional Presenter by Timothy Koegel. This is a solid book and really helped to set me up for success.
Most people who join Toastmasters are those who are go-getters and believe in personal development.
Toastmasters is a great platform. But to really supercharge your public speaking, I recommend adding other resources as well.
Another great resource is the Dale Carnegie Public Speaking Mastery Course. I learned a ton about public speaking there.
5) Video Record Yourself
Shoot video of yourself delivering your ice breaker. This is a powerful way to help you to relax and get comfortable before your speech.
If you look tense or uncomfortable, there’s no better person to notice that than you.
Look for things that might be little ticks in your speech (such as ahs and ums). Try to make your speech as smooth as possible and remember this is a journey that starts with your first speech.
Even though you want to look good, you still want to get better. So try to improve after every speech.
Watching footage of yourself before delivering the speech will give you an idea of how you look before it’s showtime. You’ll also be able to assess your body language, delivery, and gestures.
6) Avoid Stilted Body Language
Some things to avoid here include:
- crossing your arms.
- leaning on the podium or clutching on to it for dear life.
- T Rex arms (open up your communication and gestures).
PRO TIP: If you want to really shine in your ice breaker, I recommend that you walk out away from the lectern (On both sides) while you speak. This will help you appear confident, while also helping you to relax.
This is more of an advanced technique, but no need to wait until you have more speeches under your belt to start this. You can practice this with your first speech.
7) Include The Entire Audience
By this I mean look at everyone. Be sure to slowly scroll the room as you talk, to make sure you give every member your eye contact.
A funny thing usually starts to happen when members of the audience feel neglected. They might start to tune you out.
Doing this will help to take the focus off of you and put it onto them. And also help you to connect with your audience as if you’re speaking directly to each and every one of them.
Speak as if you’re on stage and you want every person in the room to hear you. Project your voice by speaking from your diaphragm and not from your throat.
You want everyone from the member closest to you up in the front to the last person all the way in the back to hear you clearly.
Focus on slowing down and trying to deliver for your audience. When I get nervous or anxious, I have a tendency to speak too fast and not loud enough.
By slowing down and focusing on your audience you’ll speak with impact and impress.
This was a big one for me. As I delivered my ice breaker speech, I tensed up my face and presented a face that said I was very anxious and nervous.
At the suggestion of a fellow member, I started smiling more and that helped to relax me and change my state.
Instead of being so serious and nervous, I came across as more relaxed and pleasant. Smiling made a big difference for me.
10) Prepare Physically and Mentally
Make sure you get a good night sleep before your ice breaker. Also make sure you have a good high fiber meal before and you use the restroom to prepare your body.
Try to avoid caffeine and alcohol when delivering your ice breaker.
Butterflies and anxiety are normal. Most people fear public speaking.
I like to visualize my speech going well beforehand. I also like to get myself into a positive state and see myself delivering a flawless speech.
Visualization if powerful. The same way you want to practice out loud, you want to visualize yourself performing perfectly.
This has worked wonders for me.
Last but not least. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself and remember that your ice breaker speech is the beginning of your journey to becoming an exceptional speaker.
Becoming a member of toastmasters puts you in rarefied air. Most people are terrified of public speaking.
Your ice breaker speech puts you on the road to success in any area that you choose. For me, it was to improve as a speaker on sales calls.
But what I found was it helped me in areas of my life that I could have never imagined. Good luck with your ice breaker and most importantly have fun.
I’ll leave you with an excellent video below on how to prepare for your ice breaker speech. Enjoy!