Breaking Ice with Jan Borgers

Jan Borgers recently joined Toastmasters Fonske Leuven and has just done his Ice-Breaker speech. This is short interview with Jan to see how this went from his point of view:


Q1:  Why did you join Toastmasters ?
I heard about Toastmasters a while ago on a podcast while travelling in China. I recently switched jobs, and in my new position it is good to have good communication skills. I put the dots together and came over to Toastmasters Leuven to take a look. I liked it and became a member.

Q2:  How did you decide to choose a date for your Ice-Breaker Speech?
Quite simple: as soon as I was a member, I tried to fix a date. I had been to 4 meetings when I had to do the speech, so I felt confident I could do it.

Q3:  How did you come up with a topic?
The goal of the ice breaker speech is to introduce yourself to your fellow Toastmasters, so the topic was easy :-). Then I decided to include the idea of asking for a mentor.

Q4:  What was your approach to writing your speech?
I knew I had to talk about myself, but it was hard to think about an entire speech saying ‘I am Jan, I did this and I like to do that’. I decided to take things differently.: I would talk about myself in the third person, to make it easier for myself. I also knew I was interested in getting a mentor and decided to treat the speech as if I were selling a house.

The hardest part was thinking about what I would and would not say about myself. But if you are selling a house, there are some things that you have to mention: the history of the house, the good things and why one should buy it. I took the same structure: my personal history and some details, my passions and why one should mentor me.

Once I had this structure, it became easy to write a speech.

Q5:  What support did you get from the club
The person responsible or welcoming new people and guests made me feel very welcome. He sent me the assignment for speech 1 (I didn’t have my books yet) and told me how to request a speech.

Then I got help from a member off the club who read over my speech and gave me some basic feedback on how to structure my talk. This made it much easier for me as I could break up the talk into areas I could remember rather than trying to see it as one long talk.


Q6:  Were you ready?
Yes: my speech was written out and I had it memorised (mostly). I was advised to practice the talk a few times and not to depend too much on notes as this would give me more confidence.

Q7: How was your Ice-Breaker speech?
I think it was quite ok! I liked doing it, and I think it worked as I hoped. Then feedback from the evaluation was also very good as well as from the members.

Q8: What lessons have you learned?
* It takes more time to prepare for a speech than you think
* It is harder than you think to memorize a speech without aids (slides etc)
* Speeches tend to take longer than you think once you get to speaking, so practice a lot!
* It is quite hard to do a speech in English if this is not your native language, and it will make your speech longer
* I do a lot of ah’s and uhm’s, I have to see how I can fix this
* If you enjoy your speech, the audience will enjoy as well. So it is good if you do a speech about something you care about.

Q9:  Have you already set a date for your next speech.
Yes I have: my next speech is in December!

Q10 :  Did you find a mentor ?
I had 2 people who were interested, so I’m set 🙂

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