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.
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!