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