For an excellent collection of competition 'how-to's' ranging from organization of material to delivery and an example impromptu speech script
click here. (Don't be put off by the site looking old and tired. The information is gold!)
1. PREP (Point, Reason, Example, Point)
Point: The main point is that impromptu speaking is an
extremely valuable skill to have.
Reason: Being able to speak easily in public is empowering.
Example: I can remember the struggle to overcome the fear of standing to speak in front of others. I was the original Mrs Blush and Blurt! But that is a dim and distant memory.
Today I am more confident, more vibrant, more alive, more willing to take risks and
Point: When a person is personally empowered to speak for themselves and
others, they are stronger.
2. Past, Present, Future
In the past the answer to the problem we face was...
As of now, we have XXXXX answers to the problem...
In the future we predict we will have XXXXX answers to the problem...
3. Cause, Effect, Remedy
The cause of the problem facing us today is XXXX.
The effect of the problem is XXXX.
The remedy for the problem is XXXX.
4. Before, The Event, The Result
Before Napier was a typical small provincial town filled with ordinary people
leading ordinary lives.
Then in 1931 the earthquake (the Event) struck.
The result was devastation. The town was destroyed and people killed but out of the ruins there rose one of world's finest Art Deco centers.
Having planned the body of your speech, now focus on your opening and
Take your lead from the impromptu speaking template you've chosen. If, for example,
you've chosen Past, Present, Future you might open with a comment based on
"Thank-you for invitation to speak to you about XXXX. To grasp more firmly the nature of what we are dealing with, I'm going to take you on a journey. Firstly we'll go back in time, then we'll focus on what's happening now and lastly, we'll go
To close, summarize your points briefly and if possible, make your final remark the clincher.
Hurrying will increase any feelings of unease you have. Take
your time. Breathe deeply. Get up from your chair slowly. Walk to the front calmly.
Take your time to begin.
Look around, smile. Make eye contact with one
or two people in the room.
Make sure you are standing on both feet about a shoulder
width apart. Resist the urge to slump or fiddle or put your hands in your pockets. And
remember to breathe! (If you're a person who holds your breath under
stress click the link for easy-to-use breathing exercises to rid yourself of anxiety.)
Use your notes as reminders only.
Do not try to remember a whole
speech. If you forget you'll get anxious. Instead move through the points you noted making
clear transitions between each.
Assume your impromptu speech is a conversation
with a friend. This will keep your language natural and flowing.
Watch the words
Avoid using vocabulary or jargon unfamiliar to your
Personalize your speech.
Use examples/stories from your own experience.
This works on two levels. Firstly, it lets the audience see you as a real person and secondly,
it gives you authority or a right to speak on the subject. You become credible. More on storytelling in speeches.
Keep it short and to the point.
An audience is far more likely to listen if
you stay on target and are succinct. In fact they'll love you for it!
. If you do you transmit your anxiety to
Remember the power of the pause.
Take the time you need to marshal
your thoughts together. Remember time appears slower to you. You may think
you've stopped for an eternity but it's seldom perceived that way by the audience. They will
think you are pondering your next statement or giving them time to consider your previous
Ask for a drink of water.
Explain your throat is dry. Take the time
between someone fetching it and you taking a sip to gather your ideas.
Paraphrase what you've already said.
It will jog your memory into
providing the next point you want to make.
Ask for questions.
Get the audience involved and then answer their questions.
Be kind but disciplined with yourself. If you really want to achieve, you will, but it does mean getting through the initial discomfort of trial and possibly error.
Keeping it succinct & simple (KISS) will make a positive difference. Try it and see for yourself. I promise, it is doable!
The photo is of my award for winning the impromptu speaking (table topics) competition between all the Toastmaster clubs in my area - E7. It's there as proof it's possible!
Famous last words
The very last words come from Mark Twain, no stranger to the concept of "pre-planned spontaneity". Here's
his famous tongue-in-cheek quote on the subject:
"It usually takes more than 3 weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech."
Need more help?
You'll find links to pages on how to deliver speeches, essential tips for overcoming anxiety,
how to slow your speaking rate, how to develop vocal variety and more on the write-out-
loud.com site map .