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.
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!