How to prepare for your Ice Breaker

These are Paola K’s informal notes for members scheduled to do their Ice Breaker speech.


Read the project description in the Competent Communication manual.

Bring the manual with you on the day. Give it to your Speech Evaluator before the meeting starts. You can also be evaluated in the Competent Leadership manual: Speaker, page 23.


On the night, you will find that you will speed up by about a minute due to adrenalin. Bear that in mind when timing.

Pauses seem longer on adrenalin – but pauses add gravitas to speeches

Aim for a 5-min speech (that gives you 90 secs leeway either side) – that’s about 600 words at a reasonably slow pace.


Allow yourself the week two weeks in advance to write your speech. Then allow for the week before your speech to practice.

Practice by reading your speech out loud (and standing up). Record yourself. Only by saying it out loud will you find out if your speech is easy to say. Only by recording yourself will you know how long you took. You will find yourself tweaking your speech according to how it feels speaking it out loud and how it sounds.

Get yourself ready

Take time to move the lectern where you want it and to adjust the height. You don’t get timed until you start speaking.

Before you start, take a deep, slow breath, look out to the audience and smile.

Use of notes

You are not expected to memorises your first few speeches.

If you are going to read from notes, I suggest printing them out single-sided so that you don’t have to shuffle papers. Put the lectern to one side and raise it, if necessary, so that you don’t have to look too far down to read your notes.

Add sub-headings so that you can easily find your place if you look away from your notes.

Add gesture directions to your speech notes – I use square brackets like this: [pause]

Starting and ending

At or near the beginning include “Madam/Mister* Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters and very welcome guests.” (* look towards them when you say it)

To indicate the end of your speech, hold your hand out to the Toastmaster of the evening and say “Madam/Mister Toastmaster”

See also