Ice Breakers

You would never know it, but I have an intense sense of dread when I’m invited to speak in front of 5 to 5000 people. When I’m first requested as a speaker, my dread begins when I desperately search for an “ice-breaker.” If you ask me to speak, the content is easy. You’ve chosen me because you believe that I’m an expert in a certain field. The ice-breaker is like a successful pick-up line- the kind of mini-speech that opens the listener to further communication and their desire to hear more. I look for the most humorous ice-breakers for my speeches. The dread often subsides a few minutes before the speech. Inspiration arrives out of fear and desperation.

I was recently honored to speak before a networking group about how a single referral helped Chazzano gross over $500K. That is exciting for the listener, but how do I make sure that they remember me? The answer is, with a joke, or an incredibly ridiculous situation. So, I started with this half-joke:

I was taught in an advanced networking class to teach your business friends about your crazy, dream referrals. For example, my dream has been for the Pope to be drinking Chazzano Coffee with our red Chazzano mug during the Easter Mass before millions of parishioners. I imagine the Pope pausing in his serious Latin Mass, and exclaiming in English, “that is the best cup of coffee that I’ve ever tasted.” (After the polite laughter, I continue) The next dream referral that I had involved Oprah drinking Chazzano coffee during her last show, pausing a few minutes before the end while she’s crying, and exclaiming: “That’s the best cup of coffee that I’ve ever had.” However, my third dream referral wasn’t crazy or absurd. I wanted a warm introduction to a great local chef who owned a famous Italian restaurant.

I explained how that third dream referral produced over $500000 of closed business for Chazzano Coffee, but they’ll always remember and imagine the Pope drinking Chazzano Coffee. I am not a comedian- I am sometimes funny and sometimes hilarious (at least to small children) – but I cannot create a great comedy routine. However, I have a multitude of funny stories in my back product that pertain to my businesses. At the cafe I sometimes say, “Do you know what happens when you put cream or sugar in Chazzano Coffee? G-d cries and an angel loses its wings.” That’s not hilarious, but it gains a chuckle or even a slight dimple. The Ice-Breaker should be somewhat funny, at least to your target audience, but it mostly needs to be memorable and not embarrassing.

As a business person, you know the importance of having an “elevator” speech when you’re stuck in the elevator with your dream referral. What words will encourage your dream referral to speak with you after the elevator ride.?You may have the body of the speech, but do you have an ice-breaker that makes them want more information?

Although this article assumes that you have a great grasp of your subject matter, you need a great “call to action” to share your expectations for the audience. Be prepared with the threefold components of Ice-Breaker, Body, and Call-to-Action to ensure your success and to help grow your audience. In a future article, I will discuss how to share your non-pushy call-to-action. In the meanwhile, work on ice-breakers that will grow your life and business.