Your ice breaker is the first speech you deliver in Toastmasters. Having witnessed some fine speeches from older, more experienced Toastmasters as well as professional public speakers outside Toastmasters, you may feel the pressure to do a lot in your first speech.
In one simple word – don’t.
Do not attempt to cover every element of public speaking you know in your first speech. Nuances like voice modulation, stage choreography, advanced figures of speech, public interaction and many others are no doubt essential tools for a good public speaker but give yourself some time to learn them.
Let me tell you the elements of public speaking you should aim for in your first speech – the ice breaker. I will divide the entire list into two parts – 1) The must dos and 2) The good to have.
THE MUST DOS – These are the elements you should strive to incorporate in your ice breaker at all cost.
- Humor – It’s okay to laugh at yourself and let others do so too. Ensure you have some dose of laughter in your ice breaker. One way to do so is to narrate some embarrassing experience of your life. We discussed how to do this effectively here.
- Eye Contact – You are at least a couple of weeks old now (or may be months?) Look into the eyes of your fellow club members – not right, not left, not up and definitely not down. Look into their eyes. A good strategy here is to identify three spots, one to the left, one to the right and one at the center of the audience and glance at them in turns to create the illusion that you are creating eye contact with everyone.
- Smile – Practice smiling as you deliver your speech. You are speaking about yourself. You should be the happiest person while doing so.
THE GOOD TO HAVE – These are the elements to challenge yourself in your ice breaker.
- No reference to notes – It’s your ice breaker and reference to notes is generally not frowned upon. However, you can challenge yourself by committing to not refer to your notes during those short 6 minutes.
- Hand gestures – Not really sophisticated but the very basic ones. For example – if you say there are three phases of my life. Hold out your hand and show 1 when discussing the first phase. Later show 2 when talking about the second phase and at the end show 3 when talking about the third stage.
These are the basic elements you may take care of at this level in Toastmasters. As you progress, you should work on other, more advanced elements too.