My very first Toastmasters icebreaker speech

Icebreaker Speech presented to Mosman Toastmasters 1987
Guests and fellow toastmasters … My name is Charles Cave and I would like to introduce myself by giving you a portrayal of my job, my interests in Japan and music, and my penchant for being a perpetual student.

Many people introduce themselves by describing their job, so I will follow suit. I am employed by PRIME Computer as a Systems Engineer in the Software Support Department and I work closely with the sales force providing technical expertise to sales reps and customers.

Next month sees my five year milestone coming up, and then I may consider working elsewhere, or going out on my own.

For many years I have been a great admirer of Japanese culture, arising from a strong interest in the art, music and cinema of the country. Naturally I love Japanese food, but if you think the restaurants here are good, then you should visit Japan and sample the real thing!  For example, I have eaten at a restaurant which specialises in eel. My grandfather visited Japan in 1936, and I’m sure that somehow I inherited his interest in the culture.

My wife is Japanese and last year we were married in Kyushu which is the southernmost large island of Japan. We met in Australia, and since we would be living in Australia we thought it only fair to marry in Japan to please her family. You are probably wondering if we had a traditional wedding – well I decided I wouldnt look good in a man’s kimono, so we were married in a church, and had a fairly traditional reception where the bride gets changed twice during the festivities. I even gave part of my speech in Japanese!

I have been and will always be a student. Following twelve years at school, I completed a three-year Science degree at Sydney University. In addition to the joys of Mathematics and Computer Science I found time to attend a wine appreciation course. You can imagine how much attention I paid to lectures after those alcoholic lunch-times! This really got me interested in wine, and since then I have been continuously buying wine to build up my cellar. Currently I have over 400 bottles, but that is not an invitation to visit me and help get rid of them!

After leaving university I started work in the computer industry with Colgate Palmolive. I enjoyed having no study commitments in the evenings and weekends, however after a year, the urge to study returned and I enrolled in an evening German course at Macquarie University. This turned out to be of some value when I went on a European holiday.  During the same year, I attended two courses on wine appreciation held in the city and these really helped in my understanding and enjoyment of fine wine.

In the following years, I have completed short courses on Photography, Psychology, Art History and Japanese. I think that all of these subjects make up a Clayton’s art degree! Reflecting on my interest in doing these courses, I believe that I have been trying to balance my studies which up to my university days been too biased towards science. Aside from these courses, I am a constant reader and I love books.

Music is a very important part of my life. Ever since I can remember, I was exposed to classical music which my father played. Probably my strongest early memory of classical music was seeing the film Fantasia and enjoying its superb music and animation.  I still love the music of the film, such as Beethoven’s sixthy symphony and Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.

I learnt the piano for six years, starting when I was seven, giving up when I was twelve, and started again this year following the purchase of an electric piano.

I discovered pop music when I was eleven and I religiously followed the Top 40. Many of those songs are still my favourites including the works of Simon & Garfunkel, Cat Stevens, amd the Beatles.

During my university days, I decided to get serious about classical music. I bought a text book on the history of classical music as well as a program guide to the ABC FM station. Using my newly acquired knowledge about the composers, I selected programs. Initially I listened to Bach, Beethoven and Stravinsky as well as some avante-garde composers.

Electronic music has always been a big favourite with me and I attribute this to hearing Switched On Bach when I was at school. We had an excellent music teacher in Year 7 and I will not forget the magic of watching the open-reel tape-recorder as it played the Moog Synthesiser Music. Since that occasion, I have built up a large collection of electronic music.

You have probably guessed by now that my music collection is quite large and takes up a lot of room. I had a lot of records and tapes, and then the compact disk player came along, which was like starting over! The CD player has made Classical Music really come alive and my neighbours have probably had enough of hearing the cannons in Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture.

Music has enriched my life from listening to the genius of the great composers and the pure entertainment of popular music.

I hope you have enjoyed hearing about some of my interests and background. Perhaps this knowledge will forge some friendships over a bottle of wine with some great music in the background.

Comments:

This speech has 900 words. I don’t know how much of it I used when I presented the speech but there is too much information for a 4 – 6 minute icebreaker! I should have stuck to one aspect of my life, perhaps the variety of courses I have done or my wine appreciation adventures.  A speech of 4 – 6 minutes should be about 600 – 700 words at the maximum based on my speaking rate.

The evaluator wrote: “Expand only 3 or 4 points. Don’t bombard audience with too much material”. Maybe I should have been a university lecturer?

An update on the content:

I was retrenched from PRIME Computer on the 20th December 1989 (my birthday!) after six and a half years service

I am still enjoying Japanese culture and wine, except the large cellar I described has all been consumed. Now we just buy wine on an “as needed” basis.

I now create my own electronic music using a software electronic music studio.

I haven’t done any courses for a while but I explore subjects on my own through reading and Internet research. My latest topics of study are Memory Skills and understanding the Australian Legal System.

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