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Every Wednesday evening except holidays and summer.

7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Kings Way Care Centre, 8 Squire Drive in Quispamsis, NB (it's the seniors home on the Gondola Point Arterial) - in the Boardroom.

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Five to Seven Minutes!? Mentoring the Ice Breaker

by Jeffrey Meade

After attending a couple of meetings, the newest member of your club will eventually muster up the courage to raise her hand and say, “I can do my Ice Breaker at the next meeting.”

The draft agenda is circulated, and you, the mentor, get a frantic call… “How can I speak for five to seven minutes? I figured it would only be three or so!”

Nothing to Worry About
You could tell them that most people have the opposite problem – they start writing and end up having to make deep cuts to their first draft. That might set them at ease, but it may be hard to convince them that this is true.

The Path Approach
I have suggested “The path that brought me here” as a theme. They can make a list of jobs they have had, schools they have attended, places they have lived, places they have visited, or even cars that they have owned.

The opening can then be something quite simple. The opening to my own icebreaker was, “I’m new in town, but I am not new to being new. In fact, I have moved 22 times in my life.” To develop the speech, I went through the list. I added anecdotes for some items and glossed over others.

“While at the University of New Brunswick, I moved 4 times – but didn’t have much to pack, and the student-style apartments were not very memorable.”

The conclusion was even easier. “That is how I got here!”

Divide and Conquer
How do you help the mentee who has lived in the same town all his life, and worked at the same job since high school graduation?

The “divide and conquer” method may be of use to them. Our lives typically have three main aspects – our families, our jobs, and our pastimes. Some may feel that none of these aspects can fill 5 to 7 minutes on their own, but may be able to speak on each aspect for about two minutes.

If you tell them that it would be just like Table Topics, be careful! If their body language suggests that they do not see that comparison as a good thing, you can quickly add, “except you have time to prepare and practice!”

The introduction for this type of speech can along the lines of “There are really three important sides to my life – my family, my job, and my hobby.” and the conclusion, “So Now you know a little bit about the three sides of Stan Brown.”

Another twist on this is to look at have them look at their heritage and talk about the differences and similarities between their father’s family and the mother’s family. Canadian comedian Sean Majumder does a wonderful routine about the differences between his father’s Indian heritage and his mother’s Newfoundland background.

See What Sticks
As you go through these suggestions, look for the “Ah ha!” in their eyes, and get them talking to you about their idea. Help them build on it, and help them think in terms of turning it into a presentation with an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.

Words of Encouragement

Remind the new member that the Ice Breaker is about them, so nobody in the audience is going to question their authority on the topic.

Name a couple of the accomplished speakers that they have heard in the club, and let the new member know that they too had presented a first speech, and were likely just as nervous.

Share some of your own challenges that you have overcome.

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