Breaking the Ice

At Toastmasters we select a path to follow.  There are 11 Pathways to choose from; examples being ‘Dynamic Leadership’, ‘Effective Coaching’, Engaging Humour.

If you are not sure which one to select you can review the projects within each option and there is also a very helpful survey you can complete that will suggest a couple options it thinks are most suitable for you based on your responses.

Ice Breaker Speech

No matter which Pathway you are on, the first speech anyone makes is their ice breaker.  Also once you have completed your Pathway and commence a new one, you will once again need to give an ice breaker speech.  To a seasoned Toastmaster this may feel a little strange, as if you are starting again from scratch, but there’s benefit in this reassessment of yourself and maybe your goals.

I love listening to ice breaker speeches as it helps you get to know people in your club and really understand what makes them tick.  It is even more fascinating listening to an experienced speaker as you think you know them well but then they surprise you with an interesting side of them, you were not aware of, shown in this speech.

Actually the surprising thing I have found about Toastmasters is that giving speeches is quite a cathartic process, especially the ice breaker.  It makes you think about yourself; what you value, your interests, your goals etc in a more in-depth way.  This is a nice speech to do as a first speech.  Many people worry when giving speeches that there will be someone in the audience that knows more than them on their chosen topic.  For this speech, as you are naturally a subject matter expert, all those worries are removed.  It is also a slightly shorter speech at 3-5 minutes to ease you into the process.

Purpose of the Project

The ‘Purpose Statement’ for this project says the purpose of this project is for the member to introduce himself or herself to the club and learn the basic structure of a public speech.

When a new member gives their ice breaker the evaluator will be especially keen to provide supportive feedback so will err on the side of praise and only pick up on a handful of points.  Naturally all evaluations are supportive but this one is that little bit extra.

Speech Approaches

There are several different angles you can take in preparing for this speech.  I’ve seen people share what has brought them to Toastmasters, others talk about their family or hobbies, whilst others ask friends for feedback on themselves and share what they learnt, in a kind of 360º way.  It doesn’t really matter how you approach it, the aim is mainly to get you comfortable with speaking in front of an audience and sharing something of yourself; after all you are joining a club.


As with all speeches you need to ensure you have a clear ‘speech arc’ which simply means there needs to be a clear beginning, middle and end to your speech.  It is nice if you can grab attention from the start maybe with a quote, fact or question and ideally round back to this at the end.  If you need more tips on writing a speech – look out for my blog of writing a speech.

Good luck with your ice breaker!

Speech Ideas

Struggling for speech ideas?  Read on for suggestions …

Many Toastmaster assignments say you can talk on a topic of your choice.  That sounds really helpful on the face of it but when you have the world to choose from sometimes it can be hard to start and actually more daunting.

Remember the best speech you will give will be something you’re passionate about, relating to your life, your personal experience.  There is something about this type of speech that makes it authentic and appealing to listen to and if you turn it into a story, that ups the appeal yet another notch.

I’ll share with you how I approach coming up with my speech themes.

Keep a speech ideas list

I keep a list of ideas for future speeches.  This is a tip I got from a Toastmasters podcast and is an approach I thoroughly recommend.  Every time I think about something funny, challenging or heart breaking that happened to me I make a note of it.  Sometimes you can be with your family and someone says ‘remember when you….’  This is the time to prick your ears up and jot it down.

Everyday Topics

Don’t ignore the everyday chores.  You can make a speech out of really mundane things.  I made a humorous speech about a visit to the refuse tip during the summer as just a few things struck me as funny.  Let’s face it you can’t get any more every day than that!  Actually a twist on the mundane can be really interesting as everyone can identify with it.  If you think about it, this type of observational humour is what comedians use all the time.

Reading Ahead on Your Pathway

At Toastmasters we select and move through a ‘Pathway’ such as ‘Leadership Development or ‘Effective Coaching’ with various assignments as you go, getting gradually more challenging.  It is useful to read ahead on your Pathway to see what assignments you need to do in the future.  This way you will unconsciously start noticing and adding to your speech ideas list, topics that will help you in the future.


Many of the Pathways include a speech assignment where you need to research a topic and then write your speech about it including facts and your sources.  This is also a great type of topic to use when you have a free reign to come up with your own theme.  Again every time you think about a subject you would find interesting to research, add that to your speech ideas list.  It could be about the town you live in, a country you would like to visit or a faded industry for example.

Table Topics

At Toastmasters we practice our impromptu speaking via a Table Topics session where you are asked a question you have not prepared for and have 1-2 minutes to respond.  If you provide a good answer to one of these questions from your experience, that too could be a topic you had forgotten that you could develop into a full speech.

Hobbies & Interests

Hobbies and interests are other great topics to use as speech themes.  One of our members gave a wonderful amusing speech on making sloe gin the other day and another talked about a book she had written and was publishing.  Again this is a perfect area as you don’t have to be an expert on the subject – just give your perspective on it and why it interests you.

When you start thinking about it, speech topics are all around you; you just need to open your mind to letting them in.

So start creating your own speech ideas list and maybe the 5 ideas I gave you in this blog might have got your speech writing juices flowing.

Tracey Rogers






Help How do I Write a Speech?

So you have joined Toastmasters and you are excited to write your first speech – but where do you start?

In this blog I will share some tips on how I go about writing a speech:

  • Where to start
  • How to structure your speech & points to consider
  • Writing and learning your speech

1)  Where to Start

It’s really helpful to start with a brain dump.  I like to write the topic in the middle of the page and build up a mind map of all the elements I might like to include.  This is a great freeing process.  It is like having a brain-storm with yourself.  Don’t critique it just get material down.  One thought will lead to another.  Once you have exhausted your ideas then review it.    You then need to consider the question – what will be of interest to your audience?

2)  Structure

Of course any speech needs to have a clear beginning, middle and end at a very basic level.  Structure is really important to both you giving the speech and the audience listening.  A good structure helps you remember/deliver effectively and for the audience to know where you are taking them.  It makes you both feel much more comfortable.  Actually the simpler you can make the structure the better.

A couple examples of structures are:

  • Time sequence eg taking people through a day
  • The star model – situation, task, action, result
  • The power of 3 eg explaining there are 3 important reasons for x and then explaining each.


  • Time Sequence: I used the time sequence structure for sharing the first day of my skiing holiday.  Getting up all excited, trudging to the slopes, my exhilarating day on the slopes, rounding off in the evening with great company.
  • Star Model: This model was perfect for my speech taking the audience through my leadership of a work project.
  • Power of 3: In my research project on sleep this structure was great for talking the audience through 3 interesting things I learned.

‘Post-it’ Tip

At a training course I attended years ago the instructor gave us a great tip –to use Postit notes.  You need to buy those tiny Postit notes.  In one colour put your structure titles.  In another colour you write your ideas on the Postits and then you stick them on your page.  One point per Postit.  The great thing about this approach is that it enables you to keep rearranging your ideas until you can see a flowing story.

It’s all about your audience

Remember your speech is for the audience not for you.  What will be of interest to them?  What will be of value to them?  How will you phrase things to get your audience thinking and maybe spurring action?  What call to action will you include in your speech?

Matching start and finish

All good Toastmasters speeches start and finish in the same place.  It is like doing a circular walk.  There are many twists on this but it neatly ties up the speech and the beauty of it is that the audience knows you are done so no need for the ‘thank you’ you hear so much outside of Toastmasters.

3)  Writing  & Learning  Your Speech

Below are my tips on how I go about this process:

  1. Get it down: You are now ready to write your speech.  Using your notes just get it all down and let it flow.  Once you’ve done this you can start working on it.
  2. Change to the spoken word: You then need to tweak your speech as it needs to be written how you will say it.  It’s hard to do this to start with that is why I suggest you get your ideas down and then amend.  Change things like ‘you will’ to you’ll.  Use language you would in everyday life appropriate to your audience.
  3. Short sentences: Now split the speech into short sentences and BOLD  words you want to emphasize.  I have noticed about 2 ¼ pages is normally the length for 6/7 minutes speech or you can use the word count in software like ‘Word’.
  4. Reduce to a one pager: I’ll then condense the speech into a one pager or even just bullet point words. (But I need the full speech as part of the learning process).
  5. Internalise: As you learn the speech do not try to learn it word for word as this is both really difficult and is a real problem if you forget a line.  Ie you are learning the message not the words.  Use your structure and key ideas to know what you will say and when you need to say it.

So there you have it my tips for how I approach both writing and learning a speech.  I hope this has given you a starting point to get you going.

Tracey Rogers


Welcome to Windsor Speakers Blog. The aim of this blog is to provide a taste of what Windsor Speakers Club is like for potential new Toastmasters and to provide tips and inspiration to members.

Over the next series of posts (in no particular order) I plan to cover topics such:
• How to tackle writing a speech
• The gift of feedback
• Table Topics tips
• Why I joined Toastmasters
• The benefit of repeating a speech
• Breaking the ice
• Speech ideas
• Explaining various roles
• Example meeting experience

I hope you’ll enjoy the posts and return for more inspiration. If there is a topic you would like covered then do get in touch.

Whilst I’m kicking off the blog, I am sure other members will be inspired to join in and post as well so we can make this a club effort.

Look out later this week where I will share ‘How to tackle writing a speech’.

Tracey Rogers
Windsor Speakers

Learn to run Online Meetings

Windsor Speakers ( ) provides a safe, supportive and educational environment to help conquer any fears or limiting beliefs you may have. Currently working on Zoom, lots of our members are now learning not only how to be on camera on Zoom, but also running a zoom meeting.

If you have always wondered, or thought you wanted to improve, then come along as a guest and join us.