How to give the Perfect Toastmasters Icebreaker Speech
What is the Toastmasters Icebreaker Speech?
The Toastmasters icebreaker speech is the first speech that you will give in your Toastmasters journey. This speech allows the audience to get an idea of who you are as a person.
The honest truth is that this is often the most dreaded speech of all.
It’s because the icebreaker speech is your first planned speech in front of an audience! And at this point, you are a public speaking noob who has no clue where to go, how to design a speech & more importantly, how to battle with the pre-speech nerves.
But fear not!
ArmaniTalks is here to help guide you through this daunting process & help you engineer the perfect Toastmasters Icebreaker Speech! I used to be the Vice president of my Toastmasters club & was the mentor to many new Toastmasters members.
What does that mean for you?
I had the opportunity to see tons of icebreakers speech play out. My experience has led me to see what you should do and what you should NOT do as well.
Let us begin.
The Nervous New Toastmaster’s Member
After officially becoming a member, I realized that there was no time to be a spectator. Now was the time to contribute and give speeches!
Well luckily, a week before I was scheduled to give my Icebreaker speech, I was going to witness someone give theirs. Hopefully was going to give some ideas on how I should design my speech.
The speaker who was going to give her icebreaker speech was Isabel.
She was around her mid-30s, Cuban & someone with a heavy accent.
The second Isabel entered the meeting that day, she seemed TERRIFIED. She was telling a bunch of the senior club members how she didn’t know if she had it in her to deliver a speech. I could literally see her shaking as she was talking to the other club members.
How the hell was she going to give a speech in front of 30 people if she couldn’t even properly talk to one person??
At that point, I could empathize with her 100%! Conquering speech anxiety is a different kind of beast. Doing table topics (2-minute impromptu speeches) seemed like a pain in the ass. Couldn’t imagine what preparing for a 6-minute speech felt like.
Isabel better put on her bravery cap and get ready!
It was just like any other meeting
The doors were closed at 7 pm sharp.
The club President began with the opening announcements, asked everyone to turn off their phones, then announced we all stood up for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Once that was up, the President handed the baton to the Toastmaster for the meeting.
The Toastmaster did their usual spiel. They went off by introducing themselves & everyone else involved in the meeting. Positions like the Grammarian, Table Topics Master, Timer, Evaluators and um….Speakers.
Guess who was the first speaker assigned?
She seemed like she saw a ghost when her name was announced as the first speaker.
But there was no other option at this point.
Do or die, let’s get it!!
The Mighty Toastmasters Icebreaker Speech?
The Toastmaster finished with all the formalities & now transitioned into the speaker’s portion. He began to read off the introduction for Isabel’s speech as the suspense slowly began to build up.
After the intro, he looks Isabel’s way & calls her up on the stage.
Isabel took one last quick breather before showtime. I was sitting right next to her that day & wished her the best of luck. She forced an awkward ass smile and mustered up thanks.
Everyone in the audience waited to see how Isabel’s first-ever speech would go.
Isabel stood in the middle of the floor nervously looking at the audience.
The audience looked back at her, with a warm smile & a patient demeanor.
Isabel was trying to say something but was holding back. She began fidgeting and her face was starting to get red.
Come on Isabel, you can do it. Come on! Show these people what you are all about, I thought.
After ~30 seconds of silence had passed by, Isabel gathered her cool and began..
What did the Quiet one say??
Isabel’s icebreaker speech began off in Cuba where she was raised.
She started off the speech talking about her early childhood and the kind of personality she had as a child.
She continued describing her settings & details from her past.
Honest truth? It was nothing too special.
Seemed like the generic, ‘back in my days’ story.
Not sure what it was, but EVERY line seemed so damn predictable.
And you know what they say…the more predictable, the more boring.
I decided this speech was going to be like this for the most part & slowly went into daydreaming mode.
Until something changed!!
Out of nowhere, she went on from talking about her perfect childhood to talking about how a sudden tragedy disrupted the whole thing.
Apparently, her father who had been this goody too shy his entire life was actually a lowkey Gangbanger.
He had been lying to his family for all of Isabel’s life & now the jig way up. Why?
Because her father had stolen money from some powerful goons & it had put a massive target on his back.
Being a sudden target led her father getting some arrangements made to get Isabel the fuck out of Cuba to move into the US.
This boring tale had turned into a compelling one out of the blue moon.
As Isabel progressed in her speech, she began to get more into it. Her enthusiasm began to seep out of her with every word she uttered. This led to the audience members sitting on the edge of their seat trying to figure out what was next in this tale.
Isabel went from being a nervous wreck who couldn’t utter a word to CAPTIVATING everyone in the room that night.
Well done Isabel. Well done! True inspiration.
So how can you Level Up Your Toastmasters Icebreaker Speech?
If Isabel’s story indicates anything to you, it should be that nervousness is not a roadblock, it is simply a speed bump.
A good speech is always possible with a few tweaks.
So how do you get this amazing speech in the first place?
You appeal to human nature & go in with a few frameworks to follow. I want to discuss the core principles in what will make you from a boring speaker into a memorable one.
If you can tackle the items from my checklist, maybe you will be taking home the ‘Best Speaker’s’ ribbon for the night.
Public Speaking Mindset
The biggest mistake beginners make is that they think everything has to be perfect.
The more you focus on being perfect, the more you bring speech anxiety upon yourself.
To be quite honest, the audience does not give a fuck about perfection.
Perfection makes you seem like a robot. Displaying your flaws make you seem human. We will come back to the flaws part shortly.
With that being said, the first thing I want you incorporate into your mind is:
Focus more on providing value rather than being perfect.
And how do you provide value in the Icebreaker speech?
By shedding light into who YOU are.
Content for your Speech
The predominant focus of the Toastmasters Icebreaker Speech is to give the audience an idea of who you are as a person.
The audience should leave learning something new about you. The best way to communicate your message is thru a story. Don’t be boring & just list out facts about yourself the whole time homie.
The beauty of the story format? You can take any angle that you would like to!
Isabel went from taking the route of a sweet little angel from Cuba to shocking the audience by shedding light into being the daughter of a gang banger.
Bottom line is that you want your speech to be UNIQUE to your life experiences & unpredictable. Showcase your flaws.
The audience does not want to hear facts & safe topics. They want to FEEL some sort of way. And the best way to make them feel is by being completely by talking about a very unique moment in your life.
Toastmaster Icebreaker Speech Ideas:
1. Isolated incident– You can talk about one major event from your life that sticks out.
It could be the first time that you moved to a new country, getting accepted into a coveted
program, dealing with the early death of a loved one etc.
2. Span– You can talk about the different stages of your life that led you to be who you are today.
For my icebreaker speech, I talk about how 4 haircuts from my past that have molded the present-day Armani.
Check out 20-year-old Armani!
3. Unique interest or fact– Are you a black belt, a sensational eCommerce champ, can solve the Rubik’s cube?
Well if so, now is the time to let the audience know about your journey!
4. Prop or Unique item– If there is an item that means a lot to you, then talk about that! For one Icebreaker, there was a kid who bought a sweater that his mom gave him before she passed away from cancer. He gave a compelling story about how the sweater means a lot to him & how he wears it before any high-pressure scenario.
Bottom line, you have the freedom to get creative.
The stage is yours, so utilize it.
Now that you have the purpose of your speech, let’s talk about a few ways to structure the speech to speech.
You can structure it a multitude of ways, but make sure you focus on a few points.
1. Engaging opener – This could be a question, a shocking statistic, a quote that relates to your speech, a joke etc. Getting the audience’s attention from the get-go skyrockets the engagement.
2. Supporting points– Do not be excessively detailed. Only bring up the points that help you progress your purpose forward. K.I.S.S. Keep it Simple Stupid, your audience will thank you.
3. Conflict – This is what the audience is here for! The conflict allows you to hook the audience. Once you introduce the conflict, DELAY the resolution. That’s how you create a story tension!
4. Summarizing the main points in the closer– Summarizing the main points, in the end, is like tying the knot on the balloon. The perfect way to end your icebreaker speech.
How to Practice your speech
Practicing your speech allows you to feel much more comfortable on speech day.
For the first-ever speech, you are allowed to use note cards if needed.
So if you plan on using them, write down only the HIGH-level points. Too many details will confuse you. (If you feel comfortable without the cards, then ditch em!)
Once you have your speech purpose identified, structure ready, cards prepped, it is time to practice.
Best way to practice your speeches is by recording your practice sessions!
This is a highly practical tip that most people will sleep on. How do I know? Because I used to sleep on it. Completely refused to record my practice sessions because it made me feel self-conscious and required work.
But I guarantee that you do not want to overlook this step. Recording yourself allows you to see yourself in 3rd person. Seeing yourself from that perspective allows you to feel much more confident come speech day & SKYROCKET your progress!
- Make sure your speech is within the set time period.
2. Watch out for filler words (um, uh, like so, you know). Insert pauses for fillers.
3. Keep open body language. Open palms, expressive page, torso out, back straight etc.
Get all your practicing done early so you can chill 1-2 days before your speech. This allows your subconscious mind to have a more relaxed perception of the upcoming speech.
Icebreaker Speech Day
Everyone has a different routine before their Toastmaster’s speech day’s. But here is mind:
1. Get a good night sleep the night before. This allows you to feel clear-headed and calm.
2. Meditate before your speech & get your head cleared up.
3. Drink a lot of water & eat some fruit if you feel hungry.
Avoid coffee or greasy foods. Your speech anxiety will suffer
4. And last but not least, dress up.
Dressing up helps a ton because you feel more confident. Clean-cut clothes that have you feeling fresh does wonder for your psyche.
Plus, your audience has a favorable view towards you when they see that you have taken the time to dress up. Even if you fumble during the speech, they tend to be more forgiving.
Conquering the dreaded Toastmaster’s Icebreaker Speech
The beauty of finishing this first speech is that you realize something very important….
Public speaking was never as bad as the images that your ego provided to you.
The audience members are more understanding than you can imagine. They want you to win.
Make sure you record this speech. It is the first step in your journey to overcome speech anxiety. You are doing what a lot of people were not courageous enough to do.
Give yourself a round of applause after you get off stage & treat yourself to a mini celebration for showing bravery.
This is the beginning of greatness from your end.
Always keep your eyes forward & you will see improvement, no doubt!
Now go kill it!!!
– ArmaniTalks 🎙️🔥