The Icebreaker

18 years ago I gave my first four to six minute icebreaker speech with Gahanna Toastmasters. Tonight I started a new path, Engaging Humor, and gave my 4th icebreaker speech to Grove City Toastmasters. I thought I would share the contents of the speech with all of you just for fun.

Cat K. Thompson – Version 2.0

When you read the information in the Pathways program about how to give an Icebreaker, it tells you to share facts about yourself and to talk about your goals and why you joined Toastmasters. I will admit to you tonight, that when I joined Toastmasters 18 years ago, I didn’t think I needed it. I had no goals. I thought my husband was just going to put my name on the roster so his club could have twenty members. Little did I know, I would be asked to give my Icebreaker two weeks later.

When I gave that first icebreaker, I used one word to describe myself. Teacher. My entire speech detailed my experiences as a teacher. I had taught pre-k, elementary, middle school, and high school kids as well as adults. I’d taught Spanish, English, and Ballroom dance. Being a teacher was how I defined myself. Now, I realize that there is much more to me than that. I’m still a teacher. I always will be. It’s one of the reasons the Toastmasters educational program is so important to me. But I’m many other things too.

I a mom. Which means I spend a good deal of time drinking wine, rolling my eyes, breathing deeply, and talking to myself. Did I mention I have two teenagers?

I’m a romance novelist. You all know that.

I’m a good person, good listener, and good friend.

But apart from any titles or roles, I’m just me. A woman who likes to read romance novels. Cheesy, sappy, predictable romance novels. I like Hallmark Movies too! I have an app on my phone to track which ones I’ve seen. And yes, I watch Christmas movies in July, and October, and November. I’m aware that they all have identical plots and 90% of them star the same actors. But I like knowing that twenty minutes before it ends, they will encounter a problem, the situation will get worse by ten minutes to the hour, and with only five minutes to spare, they will finally resolve everything just in time to get back together and have their first big kiss. Maybe I just like the predictability of them amidst the events of my own crazy life.

I watch soap operas too! I go to soap opera conventions to the meet soap stars. And now that we can’t even do that in person, yes, I have actually paid money to meet with soap stars on Zoom. Multiple times! I watch soaps every day. Even though the stories often annoy me because the writers don’t seem nearly as dedicated to the integrity of the characters as I am. This is why, after only a bit of cajoling from my Soap Twitter Posse, I started writing my own General Hospital Fanfiction. Fanfiction! I always thought that was something desperate people wrote in their rooms alone at night. I guess that means I am desperate, if only for a good story!

So why tell you all of this ridiculous stuff about myself? When I gave that first speech, I think I chose the teacher angle because it made me feel important. My motivation for sharing all of these potentially embarrassing details is that I now realize I don’t need you to think I’m important. I don’t need to impress you. I need to be free to be me and to like who I am. Because if I can’t love myself, who can?

Where do I go from here in Toastmasters? That remains to be seen. But I know I will continue to share the joy of Toastmasters with others so they can empower themselves and change their lives . I chose the Engaging humor path because I might as well have fun along the way. Who couldn’t use a little fun? If I can engage those middle school students that ain’t bad either. I hope I will entertain fellow Toastmasters and readers along the way. If nothing else, I will entertain myself. And maybe, just maybe, that’s enough.

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