Monday, 12 August 2019 19:42

What do I do if I am feeling too nervous to give my ice breaker at Toastmasters?

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My advice, as they say at Nike “just do it!”

I would add, think about your presentation not your nervousness.

When I first joined Toastmasters it took me 10 months to work up the courage to deliver my first icebreaker. I had evaluated other speakers and I’d even chaired meetings before I worked up the courage to deliver my icebreaker.

Since then I have delivered 17 more icebreaker speeches.

A decade or so ago while I was serving as a District Governor for District 21 Toastmasters in British Colombia Canada, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Chris Ford Toastmasters International’s President.

He shared with me a story that I have passed on to many other people. He knew of a fellow, described as being a fairly large man, who when he attempted to deliver his icebreaker he was overcome by his nervousness and passed out dropping to the floor.

He didn’t give up and next time he attempted delivering his icebreaker speech he had two burly men one on each side of him holding him by the arm. Apparently, he blacked out again, however this time he didn’t drop to the floor.

Then on his third attempt, burly supporters in place to each side, he successfully delivered his icebreaker presentation. The story went on to say that within the same year this gentleman went on to compete in a club speech contest, where he won and went on to the area contest. He was successful at the area contest rising to the division contest and onto the district speech contest. It is reported to have won the district speech contest.

I don’t know if this is a true story or not however, I find it encouraging and demonstrating the power of not giving up.

It was fear that prevented me from delivering my first icebreaker for a good 10 months. When I did deliver, it was anticlimactic for me. If you have participated in your club Toastmasters meeting already as in delivering reports, participating in table topics or even introducing yourself, in its essence you’ve already delivered your icebreaker presentation. The idea of an icebreaker is to introduce yourself to the club and so-called break the ice. As I said if you have participated in the meetings you’ve already broken the ice.

The difference in presenting your icebreaker speech is that you’ll be at the front of the room, with everyone watching you. They are there to support you, not criticize you. They want you to be successful. They want you to become a better speaker.

I find imagery helps me when I’m preparing to deliver a speech. Before I deliver my speech I often walk to the front of the room, that is before anybody else is in the room sitting down and I gaze upon the room looking out over where the audience would be.

I see myself being successful, see myself enthralling my audience. I see happy smiling faces. I see an audience appreciating what I have to say. I also see two or three standing ovations. Okay that part hasn’t happened however, if you are going to imagine you might as well imagine big.

Just do it! Get it over and done with. Trust me the next 10 to 15 icebreakers will be a lot easier for you. Good luck!


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