How to Improve Your Communication and Leadership Skills: The Ice Breaker

Posted: July 15, 2015 in Leadership
Tags: , , ,

I heard about Toastmasters International several years ago, finally found a club near me and joined! I’m just getting started but already having a blast. If you are interested in improving your communication and leadership skills this is the club for you! It’s fun, affordable, and a quick way to learn. The Ice Breaker is the first speech in the Toastmasters Communication manual which is all about me (or you) or whoever is giving the speech! It’s a perfect way to confront the fear of standing in front of a new group of people. The subject is familiar and everyone is waiting to learn more about you in 4-6 minutes! If I can do it, I know you can!! I’m including the link to Toastmasters if you want to learn more or find a club near you. If you live in the Middle Tennessee area I would love to see you at our local club!!

My Ice Breaker is below. Although it looks short I delivered it in 5 minutes and 5 seconds. I had a difficult time finding the balance between too short and long. I was pretty happy to have stayed within the time frame. 🙂

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The Ice Breaker:

Inspired

My dad died unexpectedly seven months ago. He was only 67. My father was an amazing man who lived out his dream of owning and operating a successful dairy farm his entire life. Suddenly life seemed very short and even a little fragile. Since his death I’ve spent time reflecting on my life’s dreams, and I’ve decided that it’s time for me to quit dreaming and start doing, which is why I’m here! I learned about Toastmasters 10 yrs ago at a leadership school. Ever since that day I’ve wanted to join. I work at Stones River Church and also lead advocacy projects in the community. I have a dream of being able to speak and authentically connect with people with skill and confidence.  So, in early June I signed up for Toastmasters. I immediately started working on my ice-breaker speech but, soon after, I started experiencing fear—fear of starting something new, fear of standing in front of a new group of people, fear of failure.  I almost quit before I ever started! But then I remembered something that challenged and inspired to lean into the fear instead of running away. I want to share this with you.

I have three children. My youngest son, Andrew, was born with low-vision. He is considered to be legally blind. When he was five years old he told me that he wanted to play golf. Now there were several sports that I had researched that might be a good fit for a child with low vision like swimming and track. Golf was not one of them!  So like every good mother, I wanted to protect my child from getting hurt and from experiencing failure, and I did everything I could to discourage Andrew of his dream of playing golf. He didn’t give up! When he was seven years old my husband and I gave in and signed him up for golf lessons hoping that it would be the end of his ambition to play golf. He loved them! Now Andrew is thirteen years old. He plays in golf tournaments all over Tennessee through the Special Olympics. He’s good and getting better every day. Recently, I asked Andrew two questions about his golf game.

“How do you see the ball?” I asked.

He answered, “I don’t. I just know it’s there.”

Then I asked, “What happens when you can’t find the ball after you hit it?”

He said, “It’s simple; I ask for help.”

To conclude there are three things I learned from Andrew regarding golf: 1. Relentlessly pursue your dreams. 2. You don’t always have to see the ball to be a part of the game (don’t fear the unknown)  2. Ask and trust that others will help you along he way.

I’m grateful for how my dad has inspired me through the grief and sadness to look ahead, and I’m grateful for my son and how he overcomes obstacles daily to pursue his dreams. And I’m thankful for being able to take this next step of my life with each of you.

Andrew and his golfing buddy, John.

Andrew and his golfing buddy, John.

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https://www.toastmasters.org/

http://heartoftennessee.toastmastersclubs.org/

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Comments
  1. G. Campbell says:

    I once almost joined Toastmasters before I got married, and I was looking to meet people. I had just landed my first real job, and moved to Huntsville, and I was hoping to meet people. I joined an all-women’s chorus instead.

    I think Andrew’s story teaches us all a lesson of faith. He may not be able to see God, but he knows God is there, just like the golf ball. Good luck with your speaking, as the community needs women like you to share their stories and advocate for those who can’t tell their own stories.

    Like

    • angelabraach says:

      I had not made that connection about how this relates to faith in God. Thank you for pointing that out! It’s not the first time that God has used Andrew (& others) to teach me a lesson about Him! I’m glad He doesn’t give up on me. 🙂 Appreciate your comments!!

      Like

  2. johnkking says:

    Great post, Angela! God uses Andrew to teach many of us important lessons–thanks for sharing his insights with us through your writing.

    Like

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