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Breaking the ice

From posts by Angela Coutinho and Greg Kay


Talk about what you already know – throw away the script! No research required!

Nobody knows more about you than you do. Besides, we want to get to know you better – your life stories are of great interest to us!

Step 1

You probably have too much material to fit into a 90 second talk. You’ll only be able to skim the surface so share something with us that will tell us something about you. Here are some categories to help trigger some ideas:


Step 2

You can trace the above along a timeline:

  • PAST – your background – childhood, teenager, worker
  • PRESENT – what’s happening now? Where does your time go?
  • FUTURE – where are you heading? What are your big plans?

Step 3

Select one idea that you can select from your “personal matrix”:

Family Occupation Recreation Miscellaneous

Mark two entries in this table with an ‘X’ in order to select some aspect of YOU that you will share with the group. Keep in mind that you only have 3 minutes to speak. You have lots of anecdotes from which to choose to illustrate the “slice of your life” that you are prepared to share with the group.

Step 4

Work in pairs to convince yourself that you have wonderful material to draw from – people will be fascinated by your topic!

After interviewing each other and your partner has helped you to identify which story to tell, you will only have a couple of minutes to build an outline and then 3 minutes to present!

Other Speeches

This approach can be taken for any future speech beyond “The Ice Breaker”. In general, we want to get to know you better so sharing more about yourself will fit nicely into future speeches.

Just recognize that subsequent speeches will likely have additional objectives that you also need to meet in order gain the most from your speaking journey.

So, think of the Personal Matrix as a “topic generator”. Here are some more ideas:

  • For “Your Body Speaks” – find a topic that lends itself to body gestures and facial expression.
  • For “Vocal Variety” – find a topic where there is dialogue between two or more characters as you are relating a story to your audience.
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