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Ice Breakers

Any idea why an ice-breaker speech is called an "Ice Breaker"?

I mean where and how did the term "Breaking the Ice" come up? And what does it EXACTLY mean?

In the far north ice breakers are ships with specially-reinforced hulls that are used to break the ice in winter so that other ships can get through. You'd see these in places like Canada, Russia, Alaska and Scandinavia.

An ice breaker speech is intended to break through the barriers that are preventing someone from becoming a better speaker, so for future speeches a channel has been cleared and improvement can occur.

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