To understand ourselves fully is a futile attempt, even more futile is to speak about ourselves. Does that mean that we should not retrospect our life or speak about our observations? That is perhaps what the Ice Breaker speech in Toastmasters attempts to do. It allows us to step back in our life and look at our past from a different perspective of our life.

Although it is meant to introduce ourselves to our club, ice breaker speech is also an opportunity to reflect on where life has brought us. You will notice that there is an endless collection of thoughts that you want to express. It is how you sieve through those thoughts to express and display a lot about your character. 

We are afraid to deliver our ice breaker speech because of our high expectations. It leads us to see how other people delivered their ice breaker speeches. I advise them to avoid it, as it creates mental bias and peer pressure. It also creates a fear of being judged by your audience. You are telling your story, so express it your way. When you do so, it lays the foundation for creating your style.

TM Tamalika Santra from Unicorn’s Voices Toastmasters Club of District 124 shared an anecdote from her childhood and poetically showed her character using the anecdote as a metaphor in her ice breaker speech. Metaphors are a great way to start as most of us shy from sharing details of our lives.

One of my favourite Table Topics speeches was when I spoke about how our home changed into a noisy place during the pandemic as everyone was having online meetings at the same time. During the meeting breaks, each of us made tea and offered the others who were still in the meeting. The tea helped us stay calm. This story showed that we care about each other despite our busy schedules.  Table Topics Speeches using personal stories act as a seed for a good Ice Breaker Speech.  

Abhijeet Joshi DTM, suggests using short sentences in a conversational style in the Ice Breaker Speech. He quotes Ryan Avery, the World Champion of Public Speaking (WCPS), that stories about fear, family, failure, emotions, and vulnerability connect with the audience. Abhijeet further suggests that rather than having multiple short stories, it is recommended to have one story in which you go into detail.

Another way to approach ice breakers is to prepare a speech based on your educational goals. This helps in selecting the context in which we can focus our ice breaker speech. TM Mary Thomas says, “The Ice breaker should ideally follow the competency of that Pathway. For example, we can speak about a funny story for the Engaging Humor, or a persuasive personal story for the Persuasive Influence pathway.”

Lindy MacLaine, DTM says, “My favourite approach is one recommended to me by my mentor DTM Pamelah Landers: Tell us the story of a turning point in your life. When did everything change?”

This brings us to the pertinent question of how to select the stories. Haruki Murakami says, “We are equipped in this expansive mental chest of drawers. Each drawer is packed with memories. When I am writing, I open them, extract the materials I need, and add them to my story.” We have numerous memories from which we can choose our stories. We all have a unique ability to select which memories to speak about.  It is very important to avoid being judgmental as every memory you carefully saved in your mind is important to you. However raw the memory might seem, the magic of your voice matters in an Ice Breaker Speech. This magic comes from your passion.

Just go and deliver your speech. Trust me, it changes you as a person!!

Written By: TM Pramathesh N. Borkotoky 

Intercontinental Toastmasters Club, D101