I Broke the Ice at Toastmasters!


This isn’t me!!! It’s one example of a Toastmasters Icebreaker speech – you only need to watch the first minute to see her concept was clearly out of the box!  😉



During the last month, I posted here and here about my enormous fear of public speaking and my experience joining Toastmasters International.

A couple weeks ago I scheduled my first author talk. Setting that date motivated me to get used to public speaking by committing to Toastmasters for a minimum of six months. 

On Wednesday I gave my first Toastmasters Icebreaker speech. Those six minutes were some of the MOST nerve-wracking minutes of my life! After I spoke, I plopped down in my chair and felt vulnerable. I was incredibly embarrassed about my public speaking shortcomings, but I can’t deny I was proud as hell of myself!

I had come a long way from my psych unit hospitalizations.

I had practiced my speech “From the Darkness to the Light” close to thirty times without shaking. I spoke in front of my dog Lucy, in front of my family, and in front of my mentor, the President of our Toastmasters group.

During every practice run, I was still as a stone. But when I stood in front of the Toastmasters group on Wednesday, my body and voice shook like a freakin’ quaking Aspen tree the entire six minutes – even my face shook. My shakiness threw me off so much. I was totally humiliated, but at least I didn’t sprint for the exit!

Each speaker receives a few minutes of detailed oral feedback from the Evaluator immediately after the speech. In addition to that, she gets brief written comments from each group member to take home and review. Here are some of the following remarks that were given to me:

“I thought you had been doing this a long time, had I not met you first,”

“Excellent Icebreaker! Relax, enjoy, your story is compelling!”

“What an inspiration you are – I can’t wait to watch you growing in confidence as a speaker!”

“You are a natural speaker. You did not seem terribly nervous. Great material, and putting yourself into your speech. Relax! You are among friends!”

“No need to reflect on your nervousness when you’re on stage”

(At the end of my talk I apologized for being so nervous!)

I was going to post my speech here, but there was a glitch in the recording and it didn’t record. I’ll make sure I don’t have the same technical difficulties during my next speech so you can see if I shake like Elvis in his heyday…or not.

Here’s a sample from my practice session with my mentor…

Have you faced one of your profound fears lately? Do you plan to do so anytime soon? Please share! 

Have a great weekend!




Dyane Harwood’s memoir is Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw. Birth of a New Brain will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017, and it’s available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon here; Kindle pre-sales are coming this summer!


39 thoughts on “I Broke the Ice at Toastmasters!

  1. Congratulations! Sounds like a wonderful supportive group. Great positive feedback. Enjoyed seeing your practice speech. Proud of your accomplishments! 💕🌹❤️

  2. Oh, Dyane, I know (and hate) the shaky face! But the great thing is, no one seemed to focus on that. Your glowing reviews show that you really have come a long way!!! I am so proud of you! By the time you’re doing press releases for your top-selling book, you’re going to be a pro!

  3. Congratulations on your speech! I do wish the recording had worked, but I might not have been able to listen, as my computer seems to be having some problems with the audio in the practice speech you posted… (Not sure what to do, it works on other videos I just checked on).

    Before long you’ll probably look forward to speeches. I learned years ago that I liked to speak in public (I still get nervous though!). I didn’t start speaking on a regular basis until I trained in the NAMI In Our Own Voice program about 12 years ago. I so look forward to those presentations. I’m doing one this Sunday at a local psych hospital, I do at least one a month there.

    • Thanks so much for such a wonderful comment!

      That’s odd about the audio glitch you mentioned but I’ve had the same kind of thing happen too. That’s amazing you like speaking in public! When I read that, I realized that’s exactly the kind of attitude I’d love to have, so you’re giving me hope.

      It sounds like everyone is nervous when doing public​ speaking, at least a little bit, no matter how seasoned the speaker is. Good for you for training in the NAMI “In Our Own Voice” Program and for speaking consistently – that rocks! The local hospital is so lucky to have you come and speak – I wish we had you come talk at my hospital!!!! Take care and have a great weekend; thanks again for taking the time to stop by… 👍😊

  4. All am so far looking at is a self confident sexy lady in blue whoop whoop whoop…see those comments about your speech; there goes a bright future and I rest my case

    • Thanks, my loyal friend, not to mention lawyer who rests her case! Your comments ALWAYS lift me up & put a smile on my face. 💗to you and your handsome, smart boys and the ever-precious Ella! 😸

    • Thanks so much, Cassandra! I’m hoping the nerves will settle down bit by bit, although I know that it’s normal to be a little nervous even if you *don’t* have a huge challenge like I do! 😉 Breathing helps, so I plan on doing more of that, LOL! Hope you have a great weekend!!!!

    • Thanks SO much – you’re so sweet, and I hope you & your beautiful family are having a lovely weekend, Mihran!!!

  5. Wow, Dyane. Congratulations! That’s a massive achievement. And the comments you had afterwards are very, very encouraging.
    Your ice breaker speech sounded very engaging and I loved seeing your video – even though you’re thousands of miles away, I feel you could be just around the corner! Isn’t the internet amazing?!
    Looking forward to following your progress with Toastmasters, and I hope you and your family have a great weekend xx

    • Thanks so much, Sara, for your kind, kind words!

      Yes, the internet *is* amazing in how it brings us together – I love that aspect of it! So far the weekend is calm but with gloomy weather. Everyone is out and about but yours truly (which is rare) so I’m allowing myself a treat: I’m going to watch some daytime Netflix.

      It’s a series you might have heard about called “Broadchurch” which was filmed in Dorset, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Bristol.

      The story is very grim, but it’s incredibly compelling + it has first-rate acting. Now all I need is a yummy piece of cake to accompany it, although on second thought since “Broadchurch” is a morbid crime drama, it might not be the best time to savor a bit of cake. 😉 I hope you’re having a fabulous time today, and thanks so much for your steadfast encouragement!

  6. HOORAY! You did it! The shakiness might never go away–I don’t say that to worry you, but to comfort you, seriously! I had to make an announcement in my church after Easter services about the coming Teacher Appreciation Week. I was all worked up–some of the hymns reminded me of my dad and grandparents, so I was already tearing up when I stood up in the front of church. No matter the shaking voice muted by boogers, I managed to…well, make other people cry. About teachers! Oy. 🙂

    Um, I guess I’m saying that never worry about how you are up there. How you think you sound–boogery–or feel–swaying–likely isn’t transferring to your audience. Keep toastin’, SpyDy–you’ll soon be the Master of them all! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    • As usual, your comment made me feel great and so supported!
      (I guess I could call you a human bra, but on second thought, perhaps not! 😱)

      I understood what you meant about how the shakiness (most likely) might never go away.
      It helped to read about your experience at the church. That’s pretty amazing how much you moved the audience, but I’m not surprised that you did – not a bit!

      So I shall smother my worries for now, and I’ll keep toastin’ away! 🍞
      Now, where’s that cup of coffee I just had next to me????? ☕️

      p.s. new BBC addiction: “Broadchurch” which stars a remarkable Scottish actor from Dr. Who named David Tennant, and he’s easy on the eyes – maybe he’s related to Lucy!!!!!???? Although he’s not quite as furry.

      • LOLOLOL! Yes, please don’t call me an over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder, please! 😛 And thanks. I know that years of seeing Dad preach certainly helped, and after that one high school piano recital where I performed with my fly down (with a bow to the whole audience, and then sitting and discovering my long white shirt sticking out of my dark brown pants), I realize I can probably survive any butchered speakery. 🙂
        PS: ALWAYS check your zipper before you go up there!
        PPS: I haven’t watched the second season of Broadchurch, but that first season–yowzers! Yes, Tennant’s pretty nice to look at, too 🙂

  7. Practice video. Sorry typing one handed on an angle tonight! You have great pauses in your story that shows courage and strength. It is great that they do feedback, and I think we learn so much from pushing the boundaries. What’s the next step?

    • Thanks for noticing the pauses in my practice talk.I was doing the exact opposite in my previous practice sessions, LOL!!!!!!

      The next steps include showing up to the weekly Toastmasters meeting regularly. At these meetings, members take on roles that require them to stand up in front of the group and speak for shorter amounts of time, including giving impromptu talks of a topic of the day, etc.. Then I have 9 more prepared speeches to give over time! I don’t need to present my next talk for another 2 or 3 weeks…it’s a serious commitment, I tell you!

      This fellow Greg Van Borssum from your “neck of the (massive) woods’ talks briefly about how helpful Toastmasters International has been for him & his career – I wonder if you recognize who he is. How I love that Aussie accent! He currently lives in Sydney, but I’m not sure where he was born.


  8. Big ol’ congrats and a virtual high five! Go Dyane for conquering your fears and being your usual awesome self.

    As far as facing profound fears, my wife and I have our first marriage counseling session this week and I am nervous as to how all this will play out. So that is something I will have to face head on.

    • I have complete faith in you that you’ll make the absolute most of the session with your wife.
      Therapy with Craig was instrumental in keeping our marriage intact and improving it…A LOT!
      Counseling will help the two of you; I ***know*** it will, and I’m proud of you (yet again) for doing something so difficult. Thinking of you!

  9. A little late to the party, but just wanted to say way to go!!! This is so exciting and I hope you’ll share videos of your future speeches here.

    • Thanks so much! I’ll definitely share a recording of an upcoming Toastmasters speech.

      At today’s meeting I survived giving a “Table Topic” speech which is only 1-2 minutes on an impromptu topic given to the speaker by one of the members. My topic was about controlling anger, so it was easy to yap about that for a minute, LOL, and I didn’t shake nearly as much as last week. 😜 There’s hope for me yet!

  10. Congratulations Dyane! You are extremely brave. And your toastmasters group sound really supportive. You seemed quite at home and comfortable talking in your clip. I did recently face a huge fear just last weekend. This recluse ventured out to join in a social activity last Saturday. Animal Anti-cruelty had a charity fun walk where we got to actually walk a dog with us. A magical experience and, as I’m sure you feel too, a great sense of satisfaction and pride in conquering a well-embedded fear 🙂

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  12. Congratulations on delivering your Ice Breaker and welcome to the wonderful world of Toastmasters! Remember that this is not “Dancing with the Stars” or “American Idol”. We are all here to try something new and to learn what works, not to perform for a panel of self appointed judges trying to get their approval.

    As for the nervousness, you’ll get it under control, but you never want it to completely disappear. In fact, let’s call it for what it is: a heightened awareness of self and surroundings, a queasiness in the stomach, sweaty palms, dry mouth… All the things we attribute to nervousness. But they are also the physical symptoms of excitement. It’s that excitement that signals you’re alive and what you’re doing matters.

    Keep the faith young Jedi. I’ll be on the lookout for the book.

    -Larry Prevost

    • Hi there Larry!

      It was wonderful and fun to read your spirited comment! I was inspired.

      I do apologize for taking a while to let you know how much I appreciated your remarks, but I have a feeling you’ll forgive me.

      As I wrote in today’s post, I was less nervous at the last meeting! I agreewith you that it wouldn’t benefit the speech to give up all of my nervousness/excitemement. (Nervousment? Excitedness? 😉 I promise to keep the faith, and I’ll continue to keep readers posted about my pubic speaking hits and misses.

      Take care & have a fantastic weekend!

      Dyane “Young Jedi” Harwood 😀

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