Getting up to do a speech that you weren’t prepared for can be a very frightening experience. But there are some things that you can do in advance that can help you deliver great impromptu speeches no matter what situation you’re in.
Impromptu speaking is being able to speak on the spot on any given topic. You need to be able to deliver it with ease and with confidence. But impromptu speaking is something that you can learn over time and you can become better at.
So here are my five tips to help you improve and become a better impromptu speaker.
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Tip#1: Anticipate the possibility
Tip number one is to anticipate the possibility of being asked to give an impromptu speech.
Don’t cower in a corner and pray that you won’t be picked. We can actually anticipate getting chosen to deliver a speech.
This doesn’t have to be a big deal. Simply consider what you would do if you were asked to deliver a speech. Come up with ideas for things that you could speak about.
Anticipating these impromptu speeches before they happen will put you in a better mental state when they do occur. This will help you to avoid the “deer in the headlights” syndrome. Anticipate any speeches and you will be less likely to freeze or panic in front of your audience.
Tip#2: Understand mini-speech structures
Tip number two is to understand mini-speech structures.
This will help you to quickly craft impromptu speeches if you’re asked to give a toast or a presentation on short notice. Here are a few examples.
Story-based: Deliver a story and then deliver the core message or moral of the story. This is a very easy mini-speech structure that you can use when you’re getting up to deliver an impromptu speech.
PREP: This is Point-Reason-Example-Point. Deliver your point then give your reason for delivering that point. Then give an example of why you’re right and close by restating the point again.
Pros and Cons: Open up the topic and give the various pros and cons. Then offer a conclusion that states whether it is good or not. This is a very simple mini-speech structure as well.
Tip#3: Archive your life stories
Tip number three is to archive stories of your own life in your mind.
Make a mental note of the different aspects that you encounter in your everyday life. This could be an important news story you’ve read or an interesting fact you’ve learned or something exciting that happened to you.
Archive these stories in your mind and – perhaps more importantly – remember the core message attached to the story.
Here’s an example. Yesterday I was swimming in the pool with my children. I was blowing raspberries on my son’s cheek and he was cackling like I have never heard him cackle before. He was having so much fun just being there with me and I was just so present in that moment. It was probably one of the happiest moments that I’ve had in my life. And I believe that being present allows us to live happier lives.
There you have a personal life story and a meaning that I took from that. I can now archive that story to draw upon later should I ever need it for an impromptu speech.
So archive stories and their core messages or morals and you can pull from it and deliver a great presentation.
Tip#4: Learn how to make connections between different topics
Tip number four is to learn how to make connections between seemingly unrelated topics.
Try and make interesting links between two things that you wouldn’t normally think to be related in anyway. Learning how to connect two things helps us to create stories and connect them with a core message.
The best and the most effective way I’ve found of doing this is by playing the Noun Game (or other fun public speaking activities). Start with two randomly selected nouns and deliver a speech that relates these two things together.
My usual example is a mechanic and a cat. How can we relate a cat and a mechanic? They’re not seemingly related topics. But if we can effectively relate them into a story then it’s going to make our impromptu speeches a whole lot easier.
Being able to relate seemingly unrelated things will help you to create a funny and memorable speech.
Tip#5: Only speak for as long as necessary
And tip number five is to only speak as long as you need to.
Don’t waffle on. Don’t keep talking if you’ve delivered your core message and your speech has been successful. Understanding when to stop your presentation is just as important as understanding what to talk about.
Speaking too long could result in people remembering only how long your speech was and not what you said.
Keep your speeches as short as they need to be. Don’t waffle on and don’t talk for too long.
So there you have five tips on how to successfully deliver an impromptu speech. Go out there and practice and become a more powerful public speaker.