Public Speaking

5 Simple But Effective Public Speaking Icebreakers You Should Use

By August 4, 2017 7 Comments

Effective Public Speaking Icebreakers To Start Your Speech With.

Let’s face it; it’s much easier having a conversation with friends than it is with strangers. Unfortunately, when speaking to a large number of people (as is the case with Public Speaking) most of the members of your audience are relatively strangers. Sometimes, this could affect their reception of your speech if you don’t develop a connection with them.

Now this is where ICE BREAKERS come in, you need to break into their defenses; get your audience ready and willing to hear what it is you have to share with them.

Not forgetting the nervousness you feel when you get on that stage to speak. It’s natural to feel nervous before you start a speaking session. However, over nervousness is capable of ruining your speaking day. Icebreakers come in handy in helping you get in the flow, engaging your ‘new friends’, just before you get into your main content.

I’m about to share with you a number of icebreakers that will work for you the next time you have to speak to a group of people – large or small.

Note that you don’t have to follow them to the letter. Your primary aim is to create rapport. This is just to give you a guide. Some could be dependent on the nature of the gig. So let your creativity swing in, and break the ice like a Pro.

1. Smile!

I’m sure you didn’t see this coming. How can a smile be an icebreaker? You think. Well, that is one sure way to make one feel closer than a stranger. When you start off with a smile, it reminds your audience that you are happy to be there, and happy to see them. It’s a subtle icebreaker, but trust me, it works.

I have a charming smile, and I don’t hesitate to use it when I get on stage. Sometimes, once I am handed the mic, I take a few seconds to deliberately look around with a smile. It works! But hey! Don’t overdo it, or they’ll find it suspicious.

2. Make a Joke of Yourself

If you can get your audience to laugh at you, you’ve got it! Actually, the best jokes are ones that are about something that happened to you and contain some little self-depreciation.  It could be something that happened on your way there, or far back as high school.

What if the joke falls flat? Errrm.. You can still save the day by saying something like “It was funny at the time”, or “I’ll be sure not to tell that one again”, and move on SWIFTLY. (Don’t dwell on it, or try to make it funny at all cost).

P.S: Please keep your jokes SHORT!!!

3. Make a Challenge

This is a classic icebreaker that ALWAYS works, if done right. It not only makes you feel comfortable, but it also buys you some time to get used to your environment, and takes the attention off you for a moment.

Give your audience a task – a simple one. Tell them to ask the person next to them for his/her name. Ask a simple question and request for feedback. Or make them perform a simple exercise.

I’ve been doing this one for my last couple of gigs. I tell my audience to pair up. I give my audience 60 seconds to make their partner laugh. Before 50 seconds, the whole hall is filled with laughter. Did that succeed in breaking the ice?

4. Tell a Story

As effective as this may be, I only recommend it for those who understand the art of storytelling. Nonetheless, telling quick short stories could help catch the attention and spark the interest of your audience, while creating connection.

It’s preferable to tell a story you can connect to what your speech is about. Remember to keep it short.

5. Share a Quote, Interesting Fact, or Breaking News

It could be a classic, evergreen quote that relates to your subject matter; an interesting fact, or a news story that just broke locally or globally. Sharing this keeps your listeners in the know, and who won’t mind a little bit of information.

It could be a blog article you read, a news feature on TV or something you witnessed on your way. As long as it’s interesting, it is worth giving a shot to break the ice. Remember to tie it to what you intend sharing about.


So there you have it – 5 simple icebreakers you can you for Public Speaking. They are simple enough for you to put a twist on, and create something unique to you.

I hope you can take it from here, and engage your listeners from the beginning, just like a Pro.

What is your own favorite Public Speaking icebreaker? Share with me by dropping a comment below. Cheers!

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Olutola Omoniyi

About Olutola Omoniyi

TOLA Omoniyi is the Founder and Editor of He is a veteran media broadcaster and entrepreneur with about a decade of experience. He is also the the Founder and CEO of


  • Oluwatobiloba TES says:

    My favorite ice breaker is the “smile”. it always works for me; first by boosting my confidence and easing the tension in the atmosphere. amazing write-up sir

  • Ayo Abraham says:

    The challenge works all the time, may be not 100%, but it works. If you are giving a generally acceptable challenge. One that fits your audience.
    Always a pleasure reading your posts.
    Thumbs up sir.

    • Thank you Ayo. You are absolutely right about the ‘icebreaker’ challenge. But like I said, the icebreakers shared are dependent on the nature of the gig, and you’ve rightly pointed that out as well. Cheers!

  • Becky G says:

    I usually use the smile, challenge and telling a story ice breakers (usually jokes I’ve heard it funny skits I’ve seen)

    And this brings me to my question… Is it possible to combine these ice breakers (probably spreading them throughout an event at intervals) ?

    • Hey Becky G! Yes indeed, you can combine icebreakers, using them from time to time during your session can further help your audience relax even more. However, you need to be careful not to overdo it, in such a way that it distracts them from the information you really intend to pass across.

      Also, it is always preferable (and advisable) to use challenges, stories and jokes that further underscores the point you are trying to make.

  • Anaba Chigozie says:

    The smile works for me 100%, be it an interview, speaking to critics or larger group of people. It helps reduce tension.
    And secondly, the joke of myself or an experience of mine also works like magic, it lightens the atmosphere and keeps the listener(s) engage for what is coming next.
    Wow. Thanks, I never knew I’ve been doing these things unconsciously.

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