VanCore’s newest member, Patrick, thought he had the perfect title for the Icebreaker he delivered this week: The Polar Bear.
Turned out Patrick’s speech didn’t have much to do with polar bears. Please explain, Patrick.
“Have you ever heard of a better icebreaker than a polar bear?”
The Icebreaker is the least important, but in some ways the most significant, speech a Toastmaster will ever make. It’s the nervebuster, the initiation, and how we it tells people more about us than we think.
For instance, do we hang back for weeks or months, just observing and taking on lesser roles at meetings, before we make that first official speech — or do we dive right in? Do we stick with the subject we know most about — ourself — or do we go wider? Do we put our personality in it, or just stick to the facts, ma’am?
Patrick dove right in, wove a rich story of family history, and definitely put his personality into it.
His parents had fled wartime Vietnam with the idea of giving their kids the prospect of a better life. They ended up in a wilderness on the other side of the world. But to Patrick that wilderness, the small town of Terrace, British Columbia, was a kind of paradise. A mighty river teeming with salmon, welcoming people primed to be not just neighbours but friends. Patrick’s parents had five kids. They named them all, in part, “Bao,” meaning “precious treasure.” This caused understandable confusion when friends phoned the house.
“Is Bao there?”
“Which Bao are you looking for?”
Patrick not only broke the ice, he crushed it and served it in a tasty drink of his own invention.
Call it “The Polar Bear.”