Writing the Icebreaker: Part one

For the next few days, let’s learn about crafting an Icebreaker speech for a Toastmasters meeting. The Icebreaker is generally the first speech given in a Toastmasters club, and sometimes elicits a bit of anxiety in new members.

For most speaking, I would suggest beginning with some audience analysis. Who is your audience and how can your speaking benefit them? For this project, the main thing to consider is that your audience is a group of Toastmasters who want to see you succeed, and the best way you can benefit them is to let them know a little about you.

For future projects, we’ll take more time with this concept. But for the Icebreaker, it’s not as critical.

After you know your audience, the next step is to decide on your message. Again, this is one of those rare projects where the overarching plan is there for you: tell who you are. Since you have but a scant 4-6 minutes, you do want to be a bit more specific. Here are some ideas:

1. Talk about who you are in your current job
2. Talk about your experience as a college student
3. Talk about your experience in the military
4. Start from zero, and give a brief overview of your upbringing
5. Tell what made you decide to join Toastmasters, and what your goals are

As you determine your message, it may lead you to decide on how to deliver that message. You also may need to take some time to determine the best method. That is the last step, deciding on your delivery.

You can use many techniques in delivering your message, but the one that tends to work best for the Icebreaker is Chronological. We’ll discuss some of the other techniques in future projects.

With just 4-6 minutes, you may choose to tell one or two stories, or you may decide to use three main points (i.e. 1. Where you were born and went to High School, 2. College, and 3. Where you work).

The three main points method is easy to set up in structure, and wil work well for a variety of projects in the future.

For the next step (tomorrow’s post) we’ll take an example message and work though the process of creating an opening and a closing, and then move on to our three main points.

<Ed Note: Part two is posted here>

2 comments
  1. Rob, just found your blog through the Remarkables group and thought I’d come by to check it out. I’m a three year addict of Toastmasters, have been a club officer all three years and have just recently convinced my husband to join. Great blog here, and great tips on the Icebreaker! So many are stumped by what to talk about, and it keeps them from getting started. Most don’t realize that by the time you’ve participated in table topics once or twice, 4 minutes feels like no time at all.

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