Icebreakers and Improv

There are two things that occur in Toastmasters meetings that most people find quite enjoyable: Icebreakers and Improv. The Icebreaker is the first speech given by a member of the club that consists of a 4-6 minute introduction about themselves. The Improv, also known as “Table Topics” is a think-on-your-feet exercise. Table Topics (Improv) is a 1-2:30 minute speech on a topic that is given to you after you volunteer to give it a try. 

The Icebreaker: At a recent Toastmasters Club meeting, we had a new member giving their first speech, the “Icebreaker.” I love Icebreakers because they tell so much in what is said, and even what wasn’t said.

 Everyone who joins Toastmasters, starts at a different starting point. Some want to overcome the fear of public speaking, some want to learn to communicate better, and some come to get practice. When someone is delivering their Icebreaker, the first thing that comes to my attention as they stand up in front of an audience for this first speech is courage. Also in the Icebreaker is what they reveal as they tell us a bit about themselves. It’s interesting where they choose to start. Sometimes it’s a chronological account of where they were born and what they have done at different points in their life. Sometimes they tell of a significant event in their life. Sometimes they tell of important people who helped them become who they are. I’ve heard Icebreakers that used gardening, Rubik’s Cubes, surviving a stroke, fast cars, and being a mother. As I stated earlier, I love Icebreakers. Learning about others makes them relatable and likable, which makes for quicker and stronger connections. 

The Improv, or as we call it, Table Topics: One of the reasons this is such a fun part of our meetings is the competition. You see, there is a “Best Table Topics” ribbon that goes to the person voted to be the winner of the Table Topics. The person conducting the Table Topics, known as the Table Topic Master, has some topics prepared and asks for a volunteer. The volunteer comes to the front of the room and the topic is given to them. They are allowed to think for a brief moment, and when they start to speak, the timing begins. 

Some examples of Table Topics:

1. Do you have an unforgettable Christmas memory?

2. If you owned a Time Machine, what year would you travel to?

3.  What is your favorite book and what did you learn from reading it?

4. If you wrote an autobiography, what would be the title? And Why?

5. What is the most important thing you have done in your life?

I have enjoyed some very funny Table Topics and I have heard some very heart felt topics and responses. Beyond the fun of competing for the ribbon is the practice that you get in coming up with a response to the Table Topic, and how you structure your response. This is a valuable skill that can help in many situations where a response is expected with no prep time.

These are some of the reasons I love being a Toastmaster.  If you would like to work on your public speaking skills, please come and check us out!

There are three  clubs in Utah County where you can visit to have a look for yourself.

Olympic Orators Club in American Fork  They meet on Tuesdays at 11:30 am at Mount Timpanogos Village
“The Falls” Community Clubhouse
502 S 1040 E  American Fork

Timpanogos Toastmasters Club  in Orem
They meet on Wednesday nights at 7:00 pm at UVU Business Resource Center
815 W 1250 S Orem

Utah Valley Club in Spanish Fork
They meet on Thursday night at 7:00 pm Maceys Little Theater (turn left after entering by front desk, turn left just after the restrooms, 1st door on right.)
187 E 1000 N, Spanish Fork

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