How to start your talk (and how NOT to)

Published by Jackie Barrie on

It seems to me that not many speakers use icebreakers to start their talks and workshops. Of those, even fewer are willing to share what they do with the rest of us. Paul Sloane is a rare exception, as he has given away some of his favourite icebreakers in his online course on the subject. Among other things, we discuss:

  • How icebreakers put your audience in a receptive state of mind
  • What makes a good icebreaker (make it short, involve everyone, and be relevant)
  • Why to use physical exercises (because your physiology affects your mind)
  • When it’s OK to start with a joke (when it’s congruent with your personality)
  • How audience participation differs between UK/US and the Far East

Paul also explained four icebreaker ideas you might find useful:

  • A twist on the ‘pig personality profile’ (page 38 of my book)
  • Yes and/Yes but inspired by John Cremer (page 109 of my book)
  • Statues exercise (to develop creativity and storytelling)
  • Spot the difference exercise (when discussing attention to detail or how to sustain change)


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