06 Sep What about using an icebreaker to open my presentation?

Certainly some public speakers prefer to begin with an icebreaker. Icebreakers can be very effective in certain situations. I suggest that icebreakers should be used selectively because a poorly scripted or poorly executed icebreaker can make
it difficult for you to build rapport.

What is an icebreaker?
An icebreaker can be a joke, interesting fact, figure or statistic that you deliver in your first 30 seconds to help your audience sit up and take notice of what you have to say. It’s called the icebreaker because its job is to ‘break the ice’.

What are some examples of good icebreakers?
Here are some of the favourite icebreakers I have heard over the years:

‘Of all the tax we pay in one year, 30% goes on welfare and half of that on fraudulent claims. My name is (name) and I’m here today to talk with you about the allocation of welfare in our society.’

‘One in six people in Australia claim they are bullied. My name is (name) and I’m here today to help you understand the impact of your cultural footprint on your organisation.’

The general pattern of an icebreaker is to:

  1. Deliver an interesting fact, figure or statistic.
  2. Announce your name.
  3. Tell the audience what you are there to talk about or what they will achieve from being in your presentation.

What do I need to know about delivering an effective icebreaker?

I’ll list the key points about delivering icebreakers:

  • Icebreakers are delivered before you introduce yourself.
  • They must link to the content of your presentation.
  • They must be delivered in a conversational way, or you’ll look like you’ve been reading a presentation skills book!

Tip: Icebreakers can be a very effective way to begin a presentation. You may also have realised that some icebreakers don’t always build rapport. In fact, some icebreakers actually break rapport with your audience. So be careful. If you decide to use an icebreaker make sure you use it well.