I want you to take a moment and visualize yourself talking to a crowd of strangers. And now, visualize yourself talking to people you are familiar with; could be your friends or relatives. Was there a difference between the emotions that arouse in the two visualizations?
Even in imagination, it feels more comfortable to be communicating with people we are familiar with. To generate this familiarity between you and your club-mates, the first speech of Toast Masters manual is the ice breaker. Ice breaker literally means anything that helps to warm up conversation among people and reduce the tension between them.
Increasing the familiarity between you and your club mates isn’t the only thing that Ice breaker does. For most of you, ice breaker is probably your first attempt of speaking in front of a crowd. This helps you to familiarize yourself to public speaking itself.
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Introduce yourself to the audience. Talk about your birthplace, family, education, work. Share your likes and dislikes or any interesting or life changing experiences. Let people know you.
b) Familiarize you with the platform
Ice breaker will be your first speech in front of a new audience. For most of you, it will probably be the first speech you have ever delivered to a crowd. Talking about yourself is one of the easiest topic since no one will know the subject better than yourself. You can focus less on memorizing the content and more on strategies to deliver the speech.
a) Your success in introducing yourself
By the end of your speech, the audience should have an unambiguous idea about you. The clearer the picture they are able to draw of you, the more positively you will be evaluated for your speech.
b) Your Preparation
An audience will easily be able to tell the time and effort you put into your speech. A well prepared speech will have a flow. Prepare your speech well. Do not over stress yourself and over-do it either.
c) Clarity and Audibility
Were you loud enough? Did your voice reach the audience? Were you painfully loud? Did the audience understand what you were trying to say? Did they get a clear picture of you?
These are the factors the evaluator will consider will rating your speech.
d) The flow of your speech
The flow of your speech will have a major impact on its clarity. Your speech should have an attractive opening, a body and an impactful closing. There should be a clear connection between the subjects you are talking about. An abrupt speech will be negatively marked.
Tips and Technique
a) Seek for help
Since this will be your first speech, don’t hesitate to ask for help. You mentors have already cleared this stage and hence will have a better idea about the contents that would be relevant to talk about.
c) Design a well prepared speech
Collect all the things you want to talk about. Then design and integrate it into an attractive opening, a body and an impactful closing. It is advisable to memorize the opening and closing. This will help you grab better attention from the audience.
c) Avoid giving too much information
A topic like talking about yourself is immensely vast. It is merely impossible to summarize it into a six minutes speech. But don’t get carried away. Filter the content and wisely select only what’s relevant. Do not stretch too much on one point or try to fit too many stories. Keep it simple and interesting.
Practice your speech for practice makes a man perfect. Practicing will help you understand the lines and words that need to be spoken with stress. Your body gestures will tune with the speech. Ask a friend or a relative to listen to you and take feedbacks from them.
It is okay to be nervous. Since this is your first speech prepare and carry notes if you must. It is advisable not to look into the notes for the opening and closing. Also, frequently refereeing to your notes will reduce the audience’s interest in your speech.
e) Don’t expect to be awesome
Nobody is expecting you to talk like Martin Luther. Take down the pressure of having to be amazing. Walk up to the stage and give it your best shot. Once it’s over, pat yourself on the back for having completed it.
f) Relax and speak slowly
First speech can always be intimidating. Compose yourself. Take long breaths by inhaling deeply and exhaling completely before you walk up to the stage. Speak slowly. There is no rush. Everyone in the crowd is eager to hear you and will support you.
What will you benefit from “Ice Breaker”?
a) Confront, and hence begin to conquer your fear
Delivering speech to a crowd is always frightening. But the more you do it, you will begin to feel less frightened and more confident. Ice breaker our first step to overcoming the fear of stage and audience.
b) Discover your strengths and weaknesses
Ice breaker will help you discover the areas of your strengths. You can use this understanding to polish it for your next speech and make it shine. You will also know your areas of weaknesses. Focus on how to overcome them in your next speech. Build a staircase to excellence.
c) Create a baseline
Ice breaker is the foundation of your stairways to excellence. Make the best use of it. Analyze the feedback you get from your evaluator. Evaluate yourself. Incorporate everything you have learnt in your next speech.
This article is a part of Competent Communicator Series.
- Toastmaster Speech 1: Ice Breaker
- Toastmaster Speech 2: Organize your speech
- Toastmaster speech 3: Get to the point
- Toastmaster speech 4: How to say it
- Toastmasters speech 5: Your Body Speaks
- Toastmasters Speech 6: Vocal Variety
- Toastmasters Speech 7: Research Your Topic
- Toastmasters Speech 8: Get Comfortable with Visual Aid
- Toastmasters Speech 9: Persuade with Power