The Toastmasters Ice Breaker Presentation is the first presentation Toastmasters recommends a new member starts with.
Ice Breaker Overview:
So this is a 4-6 minute speech. It is interesting because I have done some basic speaking in the past, so it was fun starting here. I had to learn… how can I create talking points that truly captures who I am to my new group. So I spent about two weeks working on ideas. I must have had 3-4 different directions I was going. I pretty much perfected one version and then I thought, you know what… this just doesn’t tell enough about ME.
I kind of felt like the goal of the Toastmasters Ice Breaker Presentation are two-fold for the group:
- The first goal is for the group to get to know you better as a person, who you are, why are you here today, and what is your background.
- The second goal of the group is to see where you are at as a speaker today. Where you are good and where you need work.
Honestly, there is probably a third goal and that is to give you a structure to get started with. I am sure everyone joins Toastmasters for different reasons and at many different levels of experience. That being said since I had some experience speaking, I wanted to try to make this first speech a great one so I could practice writing a topic (which is pretty new to me), really work on my pace and vocal range in the presentation.
Process to Create the Toastmasters Ice Breaker Presentation: How I Did It
The first thing I did was reviewed Toastmasters’ website for help. I didn’t find too much there so I then did some Google and YouTube searches for “Toastmasters Ice Breaker Presentations“. Click the link to see some of the examples. I watched several people give several different styles of Ice Breaker presentations. Then I started working on topics related to things I loved. This was fine and like I said I had one nearly completed when I read the Toastmaster Competent Communication guidebook, well actually the Evaluation Guide for this presentation. I read the guide before I started, but the Evaluation questions made me rethink my speech. I wanted to get more personal and really help my fellow members get to know me better. So I scrapped this speech and started over.
It is funny… one of my biggest challenges in this first presentation was timing. How do you get 44 years of life down to 4 minutes? I was struggling with 6 minutes let alone the 4 that is recommended. To be fair this presentation is to allowed to be 4-6 minutes.
Once I got the new topic completed, I worked my ideas into bullet points and used the concept of an Opening, 3 Topics for the body content, and a Closing. Apparently these are very common and basic thoughts for creating quality speeches. My mentor Jesse helped introduce this concept to me. I appreciate it too, it really helped.
Then I practiced, and practiced, and practiced some more. I must have given this presentation 20-30 times. I know, I know… this is a ton of work, however as I mentioned earlier, I struggled with time (keeping it to 6 minutes or less). I also am taking this pretty serious because this is something I want to do professionally. I worked on humor, vocal range, pausing for drama, hand usage, etc. I even recorded my presentation as audio to listen to my presentation so I could hear areas I could improve or change. I presented to my wife once with both of the presentations I created. Then I recorded a video of myself to watch and listen to myself. Yes, this is overkill, but I am excited to learn how to create my own presentations, topics, humor, entertainment, and really add value to my listeners for the time they are giving me. Plus I feel like every time I practiced, I kept getting better and better. Here is the video I created of the near-finished presentation.
Results: How I Actually Did
Well, I must say since I practiced a lot and KNEW the content (because it was about ME) I felt pretty confident giving this presentation. My evaluator, Jeff Wigness, is a great guy and a pretty solid speaker. I have a lot of respect for Jeff because he is so solid. Some of the good things he mentioned where good eye contact of the group, no use of notes, and I seemed confident and to have a good presence. Wow! I was excited to hear this. Then there were some areas he recommended for improvement – I had a few “Ah’s” and “Um’s”, I could have used my speaking area better (walked around a little bit), I could have done better gestures. Overall not bad.
My own feedback on my Toastmasters Ice Breaker Presentation:
Although I practiced, it is always a bit of a challenge staying calm when you are presenting to a new group (even my small group of 12-16 people). I practiced hand gestures, but probably because of the “time” thing I probably lost my focus on my hands. I started with hand gestures (I think), but then ended up with my hands in front of me and my mentor Jessie said I was wringing my hands. Oh well. Some other thoughts were, when I did this presentation I knew I had a timer and when the first flag went up I was fine (4 minute marker), but the second flag (at 5 minutes) threw me off, so I start rushing a bit to make sure I finished within the 6 minutes. I did finish about 20 seconds early. I bet my pace and tone were quicker, I know my heartbeat was.
At the end of the day, I feel really good about this. I feel for being a little rusty at speaking (it’s been a year or two since I last spoke), I did really well. I completed the first project of the Toastmasters Competent Communication and I look forward to my next speech! I also walked away with the Best Speaker of the night ribbon. This might have been luck, or maybe it was the group throwing me a bone to inspire me. Either way, I am happy and excited.
Thanks for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed the article and video. More importantly, if you are looking to get into speaking, I hope it offered ideas, help and support to get you started and or give better presentations. If you are in Fort Worth, feel free to attend the Top Notch Toastmasters Group if you would like to connect in person.
Good luck and go get ’em!