Toastmaster Ice breaker speech

My first speech at Toastmasters

5 minute read

This is my ice breaker speech - the speech meant as an introduction - at Advanta Toastmasters.

Ice breaker 4/31/2019

This is my icebreaker speech. I’d like to introduce a man with a lot of charm, talent, and wit. Unfortunately, he couldn’t be here today, so instead … This is the speech where you get to know me, so let’s begin. Most of “how tos” and tips for ice breakers said that I should start of with a bombshell. Reveal something about myself that no one knows, and arrest the audience’s attentention.

I am the heir to the throne of Mysore and I’m living in voluntary exile here in Bellevue. I gave up my claim in favor of my cousin in exchange for a rather substantial trust fund.

pause and make eye contact

Judging by the looks on your faces, you really bought that. That makes me feel a bit more confident about how this speech is going to go.

In medias res, or “into the middle of things”. An easy way to create excitement in a story is “in medias res” or to throw the reader into the middle of things. As the Roman poet Horace puts it, “Nor does he begin the Trojan War from the egg, but always he hurries to the action, and snatches the listener into the middle of things… .” My life hasn’t been as electrifying as the battle at Troy nor am I Brad Pitt, so I’m willing to employ every trope, cliche, and stereotype in the book to appear more interesting than I actually am. Interestingly, a stereotype is a solid plate that was used to print books, and when you use a stereotype it makes a noise like “cliche”. So a cliche is literally made by stereotyping.

Getting back into the middle of things. Stepping out from a 21 hour flight, I wondered “was I really here?”. It had been 26 hours since I had left home, Bangalore - the city I called home for the first 25 years of my life, but everything looked the same. I stepped out of the terminal to wait for the bus…and it didn’t hit me. For the next ten minutes, nothing continued to happen. Then I beheld the sight that first made me feel “I am here in the United States”, a huge truck - bigger than any I had seen - bright red with the words “Coca Cola” pull into a McDonalds while a man in a bright yellow mustang ordered food through the driveway.

shrug What can I say? For some people it is the sight of the empire state or the grand canyon, for me it was a coke truck, a mcDonalds drive through, and a muscle car.

As I made my way to Madison, Wisconsin it started to envelop me. For the first time I was by myself, I’d have to cook for myself - which I discovered that I absolutely love the produce section at safeway is my happy place, I’d have to remember to pay the bills - I’d like to thank the person that thought of automated payments, I’d have to deal with the snow and I know nothing about American football!. 25 years ago then, I was born in Bangalore. My father teaches Computer Networks at an engineering college, My mother teaches high school English, both my grandfathers were teachers, and so are all my aunts - 5 of them. Now I know what you were thinking, growing up in a house like that of-course he grew up the star of his football team, but no, I often had my nose buried in a book. Words - a well written sentence, a vivid poem - Dylan Thomas or Pg Wodehouse or Eminem, can turn on the sunshine in my head like that click And if I’m ever able to produce something that good, I will be completely inebriated with the exuberance of my own verbosity.

My interest in programming and computers was sparked when my 6th grade teacher showed us a PPT called “Life in the Arctic”. I’d never seen a GUI before and now there were animated pictures and sounds and clip art zooming in. I thought that was fantastic. Fast forward many many years and I am here at Microsoft, not working on powerpoint but close enough, shoe in the door and all that.

So, what have you learnt about me so far?

  • I love to read and read anything
  • I love to cook
  • I like to segue into random facts
  • I am a much better writer than am I a speaker and hence…Toastmasters

Now it would be disappointing if I could condense my life into a 6 minute speech, moreover I couldn’t think of a slick way to end this speech so I’ll pull out another arrow from the quiver of tropes and leave this chapter with a cliffhanger. I hope I have you interested enough in this character - that is me - that you want to turn the pages and find out more. Because there is so much more to know! How did that kid deal with his first Wisconsin winter? Did he really earn praise for his dramatic actin in the 2nd grade or was he just looking lost because he couldn’t remember his lines? How did that 6th grader grow up to be a programmer? Why did that programmer decide to leave India? Find out on the next episode of my speech.