1. HOME
  2. Speech topics
  3. Impromptu speech topics

Impromptu Speech Topics

- 11 themed topic lists to stretch the imagination

By: Susan Dugdale | Last modified: 04-27-2020 | First published: 07-01-2010

Coming up with fresh, exciting and interesting impromptu speech topics for either your public speaking class or Toastmaster's Club (table topics) can be a chore. Especially if the task is dropped on you at short notice!

Try these. There are 11 themed lists of topic ideas below.

The aim is fluency and confidence. Park truth or reality to one side and encourage speakers to allow their imagination to free-wheel through the possibilities the topics present. In short, have fun and laugh while you learn!

(If you want to teach structure you'll find useful information here covering: 7 organizational patterns for impromptu speaking.)

1. Yay! Let's all go to a book fair!

Image: A man driving a tractor at sunset.
Text: Tractors and the men who love them. Impromptu speech topics.

This list of impromptu speech topics is themed around books with extremely odd titles.

(The titles are real. Google 'odd book titles' and all will be revealed!)

I used them at my Toastmaster's Club awhile ago.

To set it up the session I announced we were at a book fair. We were all writers of extraordinary works and as such it was our challenge to promote our book to the book sellers.

Each speaker was given a title for which they had to provide a synopsis (an overview of the book's content) , say who their intended audience was, and why they had written the work.

The result was wonderful impromptu speeches full of deliciously silly fun.

Extraordinary book titles 

  • Tractors and The Men who Love Them
  • Attractive and Affectionate Grave Design
  • God's Chewable Vitamin C for the Spirit
  • A Theory of Shopping
  • Beyond Leaf Raking
  • Weeds in a Changing World
  • Let's Get Primitive - The Urban Girl's Guide to Camping
  • Life on the Refrigerator Door - a Novel in Notes

  • Born Standing Up
  • Unscrewed - The Consumer's Guide to Getting What You Paid For
  • Across Europe on Kangaroos
  • Lightweight Sandwich Construction
  • The Making of a Moron
  • The Haunted Tea Cosy
  • Interpersonal Violence: The Practical Series
  • From Coherent Tunnelling to Relaxation


Download, print and go impromptu speech topics 

Image - title cover for Proverbs impromptu speech topic cards

If you need something "now-right-this-minute"  try these. There are two sets of topics to choose from: Proverbs and Quotations. They are formatted ready for printing and suitable for teens to adults. 

Impromptu Speech Topic Cards

You get 98 carefully selected topics per pack & a range of themes to choose from.

They're a great grab n' go reusable resource.


2. OMG, LOL! It's acronyms! 

Image: a collection of acronyms. Text: Impromptu speech topics - acronyms

Acronyms are abbreviations formed by taking the first letter of each word in a frequently used phrase.

We use dozens of them in a kind of short-hand. OMG, (oh my goodness), and LOL, (lots of laughs), are exceedingly hard working examples.

Ask your speakers to explain what the letters stand for, the history of the acronym and what derivations there are. Again, encourage flexibility.

Answers need not be restricted by little trifles like truth!

If you need more than the ones I've listed, check out this wonderful resource: A Directory of Common Acronyms and Abbreviations

EOD
MST
PDA
POSH
PTO
TGIF
TLC
RIP
SOP
NIB

CBD
EFT
FIFO
ROE
FFA
ODP
FAR
SWAT
TIN
BLT


3. Life as an Object

List the number of commonplace objects you need to cater for your group.

Examples: wheelbarrow, door handle, mouse pad, stapler, coffee mug, window...You get the idea.

Each speaker is to share what life brings them from the perspective of their object. What's good? What's a nightmare? The biggest thrill?

4. Speech Starters

Compile a list of starters. You'll need one per person. Each speaker must use what they've been given to begin their speech.

Examples:

  • 'It happened as if by magic.'
  • 'Girls just want to have fun.'
  • 'It was a dark and stormy night...'
  • 'As soon as I saw it I knew...'
  • 'Why didn't you tell me that...?'
  • 'She said you're absolutely fabulous.'
  • 'It was moving slowly but steadily toward me.'
  • 'I want a large one please.'
  • 'My Mother thinks that...'
  • 'Small children should never...'
  • 'It was the best and worst of times.'
  • 'Life is full of unexpected surprises.'

5. Bumper Sticker Wisdom

Image: graduates in blue gowns. Text: Always remember you are unique. Just like everyone else.

In this set of impromptu speech topics each speaker must incorporate the bumper sticker phrase you give them into their speech in what ever way they wish.

Examples of bumper sticker sayings:

  • 'Always remember you're unique, just like everyone else.'
  • 'Caution: I drive like you do!'
  • 'Stupidity is not a crime so you’re free to go'
  • 'Mothers with teenagers know why animals eat their young'
  • 'A nuclear war can ruin your whole day. '
  • 'Age is a high price to pay for maturity.'
  • 'Indecision is the key to flexibility.'
  • 'Coffee, Chocolate, Men. Some things are just better rich.'
  • 'Do not play a leap frog with a unicorn.'
  • 'Due to budget cuts, the light at end of tunnel will be out.'
  • 'Well behaved women seldom make history'
  • 'Don't believe everything you think.'

6. Cliche Origins

Image: drawing of raining cats and dogs. Man sheltering under umbrella. Text: raining cats and dogs.

A cliche is a phrase that has been used so often all its original vitality is lost. What's left is trite and predictable. Yet once upon a time these sayings were new.

The speaker is to tell the story of how the cliche assigned to them came into being. Who used it? Why?

Examples:

  • 'raining cats and dogs'
  • 'as black as the ace of spades'
  • 'as good as gold'
  • 'for the love of a good woman'
  • 'having the time of his life'
  • 'all dressed up and nowhere to go'
  • 'in the pink'
  • 'in the thick of things'
  • 'never look a gift horse in the mouth'
  • 'getting down to brass tacks'
  • 'get on your high horse'
  • 'give them a run for their money'
  • 'knock me down with a feather'
  • 'every cloud has a silver lining'
  • 'to be the cat's pyjamas'
  • 'foot loose and fancy free'
  • 'diamond in the rough'

7. Advertising

Image: a toddler with a pacifier. Text: a baby's pacifier.

 Voila! I now declare you, my fellow speakers, to be fine salespersons.

Everyone is going to sell as hard as they can an object that they've just selected.

To set this up prepare a bag full of small items.

Have each speaker put their hand in and without looking, pull one out. Now they sell the benefits and features of it to the audience.

Objects could be: a pen, a child's pacifier, a toy car, a nail file, a stone ... Anything small enough to fit into a medium sized bag.

Of course speakers needn't stick with the object's original purpose!

8. Time Warp Impromptu Speech Topics

Image: large aircraft flying in a golden sky. Text: air travel

Transport your group back or forward in time. From your nominated time perspective give speakers impromptu speech topics inviting comment on common events of today.

Example: The time period is 1920.

Topics you want them to talk on:
terrorism, global warming, the internet, computers, mobile phones, email, air travel, supermarkets, fast food, high rises, birth control, fashion, sustainability, women working outside the home...

9. Shoes

Image: a jumble of shoes- women's, men's, children, sporting ...

Do you know the saying to understand a person you need 'to walk a mile in their shoes'?

That's what you're going to ask people to do: to step into the shoes of another in their imaginations.

Gather up a collection of shoe pictures; as many differing varieties of footwear that you can.

Examples: golf shoes, dress shoes, tramping boots, jandals, sandals, high heels, boots, mules, slippers ...

Each speaker gets a different picture.
Who wears them?
What they do?
What's the occasion?
How do they feel?
The task is to build a full profile based on the type of shoe.

10. Colors

Image: paint color swatch

Take along a color swatch or color chart from a paint shop.

Each speaker is given a color - pink, red, orange, yellow, brown, tan, black, purple ... They must use that color as the foundation of their speech.

Example: 

A person is given the color yellow. Yellow could remind them of summer, sun, sun flowers, jaundice, cowardice, custard, egg yolks, a favorite shirt ...

Any of those associations could spark a speech.

11. Award Acceptance Speeches

'What an honor to be here! How extraordinary! Not so long ago I was a total butter-fingered fumbling novice, and yet today I've won the award for best improved juggler...'

All the speakers are going to give an impromptu award acceptance speech.

Your task is to prepare a list of awards, fictional or true,  - one for each speaker.

Examples:

  • International Peace Prize
  • Man/Woman of the Year
  • Miss Universe
  • An Academy Award
  • The Simon Smith Prize for Music
  • The Charlie Jones Prize for Drama
  • Chloe Award
  • Most Valuable Player Award
  • Jarvis Cup
  • Most Improved Speaker Award
  • The Lily Brett Most Improved Juggler Award
  • Pipe Smoker of the Year ...

Have you played One Minute Speeches?

write-out-loud.com - one minute speeches

They're perfect for practicing impromptu speaking skills in a safe, non-confrontational way, and loads of fun.

This is an instantly available package of printable topics + activity instructions. Have a look!

For more impromptu speech topics & impromptu speaking structural formats check these pages: