First Toastmasters Speech (Ice Breaker)

Written Text
Evaluator Feedback

I gave my first Toastmasters speech today.  I did not feel as good about it as I did in practice.  I was nervous the whole time … never relaxed.  I forgot a few things and had to rely on my notes more than I wanted.  However, the speech was very well received and I even won the best speaker award (against one other speaker).

I used “um” 34 times (close to a club record).  Part of Toastmasters is to become aware of and learn to stop using filler words, such as “um,” so they are counted for each speaker.  I have a little work to do with this.

The general feedback that I received was that I had a good presence, I drew people in & made them laugh.  Two people said they could not tell I was looking at my notes.  They said it was very well put together.

Overall I felt good hearing the feedback.  It makes me realize that even though I do not feel I’m doing well that I still have a good present.

My evaluator’s feedback is here at the bottom of this post.


The purpose of the Ice Breaker speech is the to introduce myself to the club, begin to learn to speak before an audience, learn what I’m already good at and where I can use improvement.


Written Text of Prepared Speech

Since this is the Ice Breaker, I’d like to talk about something cold, and then I will show how it relates for me to public speaking.  In the process you will get to know a little something about me, as is suggested for the Ice Breaker.

Let’s start with a little visualization.  Imagine yourself on a boat.  You have just left a wharf along the San Francisco city front and you are heading out towards Alcatraz.  It is an overcast morning and there is a chill in the air and a wind that delivers with it a biting cold.  You have on a long jacket that reached to your ankles that is warm on the inside.  You pull it closer to your skin, that’s right, your skin.  Beneath the jacket you have nothing on but a swimsuit.  You look around.  The other passengers are getting ready, putting on their swim goggles and swim caps.  Some of them have on a wet suit, but you don’t.  You draw nearer to the Rock, knowing that soon, along with the rest of the boat passengers you will be jumping in the chilly waters of the San Francisco Bay to swim back to the city front.  The temperature of the water this time of the year is about 53 degrees.

Perhaps this image fills you with anxiety or anticipation, similar to what I was feeling moments ago as I was sitting over there getting ready for my speech.  That’s the first similarity between cold-water swimming and public speaking.  The anticipation is the hardest part.

Soon the boat pulls into position.  You see the captain on the radio to the coast guard, “Six swimmers from Alcatraz to Aquatic Park, estimated time of arrival in 50 minutes.  I’ll be monitoring channel 14 and working 69.”  He get’s off the radio, “Come on, come on, let’s go!” he shuts at the swimmers, “Get into the water and get off my boat.”

My name was just called, my fellow Toast Master, [Insert name here] is introducing me.

My heart starts to pound as I climb the ladder and watch the swimmer in front of me jump, knowing it is now my time.  There is nothing I can do.  I jump.

Immediately the cold water sends a chill to my bone and I PLUNGE into and I’m submerge by the cold water.  I rise to the surface and start swimming, ignoring the cold, as I know it will soon pass.

The initial shock of finding myself in front of a group of people, all eyes upon me, soon too will pass … I hope.  How long have I been talking?  Yes, I’ve calmed down quite a bit, but there are still a bit nerves.

I can still feel the cold as I’m swimming, but it no longer bothers me.  It has become a part of who I am in the moment.  I love it and I want to live in it.

So I draw two more similarities between the two, the initial shock and becoming used to it.

The more I have taken the plunge in the chilling water, the more I know and understand that the uncomfortableness passes.

I have not had enough experience with public speaking to have the understanding, but I do hope I will get to that.

The anticipation, the nerves, the initial shock will always be there, but as I’ve learned from cold water swimming, those are just stages that we pass through, on the way to the sweet rewards.

Eventually, however I reach the shore … my speech is over.  And according to this [he holds up the manual], “After you finish, you’ll probably begin evaluating yourself even before you return to your seat.  You may think you left out some of the best parts.  Every speaker thinks that.” [pause] … Well, I’m not looking forward to that!  But it can provide one more parallel to swimming as about 10 minute after I finish my body starts to warm up with uncomfortable shivering.  It lasts about 20 minutes and is very uncomfortable.  I know it is just a natural process as my body warms up.  Most of the time, however, we finish at our club, just west of Fisherman’s Wharf, where there are warm showers and a sauna to help me avoid the shivering and warm up faster.

Perhaps that is you good people … keeping me warm from my own self-criticism.

I’ve been swimming in the Bay since 2004.  It started off just as a necessary part of doing triathlons.  I hated swimming at first.  I could not go 50 yards without my arms getting fatigued.  Eventually I started building strength and endurance and swimming a little further.  Soon I was swimming 1,000 yard and then a Mile.

When I began swimming in the Bay, in the protected area of Aquatic Park, I fell in love with open water swimming.  I loved being able to swim without interruption in one direction and slowly make progress.  It’s a slow mode of transportation, but eventually I get there.

Soon I had visions of swimming from Alcatraz.  I finished that swim in 2005.  Soon I met Pedro, the world record holder at that time for Alcatraz swims.  Pedro inspired me to become a centurion, 100 Alcatraz swims.

On the way to 100, which took me 6 years, I also accomplish crossing the Golden Gate, swimming from the Golden Gate to the Bay Bridge, 3 round trips, out around Alcatraz and back.  Also my big swim, Bay to Breakers, from the Bay Bridge to Ocean Beach, 10 miles (which current assist), in 3 hours 11 minutes.

I’ve failed swimming around Angel Island 5 different times.  It is a difficult swim because the currents have to be timed perfectly.  As we are swimming around an island, we want to swim ½ the way when the currents are going in one direction and then the other ½ after the currents have shifted directions.

This is still a goal of mine, perhaps for later this year.  I also have a goal of swimming for 4 hours.  There is a lot more that I can talk about, but I’ve reached my time.

I’ve always drawn the parallel between the stages I go through on a swim and public speaking.  While I have not had nearly the same experience with speaking as I have in the cold water, I do hope that I will learn to love it as much.  It will become a part of who I am in the moment and I’ll want to live in it.

Thank you very much!

Evaluator Feedback

Opening: The cold concept and visualization using a well known site is excellent.  Imagery was excellent.

Body: Exposed a lot about what apparently were your interest, why & how it is done.

Gestures: Smile.  Posture: Was at neutral position was done well with hands at sides unless used in descriptive fashion. Suggestion: Give gesture more meaning.

Voice: Very pleasant with a smile, easy to understand.  Suggestion: Work on modulation

Eye contact: Excellent, you made an attempt to glance the room.  Suggestion: 4 corner contact

Conclusion: Felt it did reiterate you purpose and message — excellent

One thought on “First Toastmasters Speech (Ice Breaker)

  1. pam chalk


    Thank you for posting your “ice breaker” – a title apropos given your theme.. Even a 2nd time around, the power of your imagery drew me back into the waters. May you come to love and live in Toastmasters as much as the ocean. Angel Island next – excelsior!

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