Giving an Impromptu Speech
Oh, no! You’ve been scheduled to speak and have had NO time to prepare. Do you cancel? No, you don’t have to… Not if you follow these tips for giving an impromptu speech:
- Idea #1: Select a topic which is familiar to you. Write down 3-5 key points which you’ll deliver during your speech and briefly think about how you will open and close the speech.
- Idea #2: Tell a story. One of my fellow Toastmasters recently gave a speech in which she talked about her time working as an intern in Washington D.C. and what happened at election time. This speech was entertaining and well-received. We all have such stories which we can tell from memory without having to spend much time preparing a formal speech.
- Idea #3: This tip is geared toward Toastmasters members, but can be useful for other types of speakers as well. Ask your audience to suggest 5 possible speech topics for you at the beginning of the meeting. Then select one of these topics and jot down a few notes before you are called up to deliver your speech. I have done this a few times and found it to be a surprisingly easy method for delivering a great speech. Once, I gave a speech on the benefits of Toastmasters membership at a Toastmasters club meeting which included a number of guests. Since I had been a member of Toastmasters for a long time, the benefits were fresh in my mind and it was quite simple for me to recall and discuss them.
- Idea #4: This one isn’t for the faint of heart. Recently, one of our club members asked the Toastmaster (basically the meeting "emcee") to select his speech title/topic. He then immediately got up and spoke about that topic! Scary, yes… but not as difficult as you would think.
The most important thing to remember is that most audiences are supportive and want you to succeed. You don’t have to be perfect and giving an impromptu speech is a great way to challenge yourself while honoring your commitment to speak. It is a new skill and different from giving a prepared speech, but it's a wonderful way to learn and grow. I have enjoyed giving impromptu speeches and I hope you will, too.
Source: Debbie Roes, Pacific Beach Toastmasters