Impromptu or Extempore
Speech Tips & guidelines
( How to give an
Impromptu or Extempore Speech )
| Public Speaking |
Impromptu Speech |
Ice Breaking ( first) Speech|
There comes a time
in any personís life when heíll have to give an impromptu speech. It may be for
anything Ė a friendís bachelor party, a teacher trying to get you to speak up in
class, or even in a casual debate. It happens more often than most people would
Now the prospect of this
may seem frightening to some. You certainly wouldnít want to look like an idiot
in front of a group of people. Fortunately, there are ways you can circumvent
nerves and avoid stammering like a fool while you find the right words to say.
Hereís some advice on how to give a good impromptu speech:
- Know your direction.
Youíve got to know how you want to deliver your speech before you actually
speak. Should you go the serious, awe-inspiring route, or the hysterical,
laugh-a-minute path? The best way you can make a decision is to get a quick
feel for your audience. What type of people are they? What direction would
they most accept? Your speech will be praised significantly more if you
speak in a language that works with those listening.
- Prepare some backup.
It isnít uncommon to forget what you were going to say. What separates a
good speech from a disaster is how well you can catch yourself. Itís good to
have a backup plan for the times when your mind suddenly blanks. That way,
if youíre caught without something to say, you can maneuver yourself out of
that situation gracefully instead of gibbering and shaking in a nervous
sweat. In serious situations, you can bail yourself out with a polite way of
excusing yourself. If youíre going for laughs, itís okay to be candid about
your mental block.
- Plot a course. Before
you speak, try to make a quick mental outline of what you want to say. Some
of the worst speeches came out of people who didnít take a moment to
organize their thoughts before opening their mouths. Your outline doesnít
even have to be in-depth; all you really need is a guide to help keep your
thoughts on track.
- Keep it short and
sweet. Impromptu speeches arenít expected to be long, epic narratives. In
fact, the more concise you get, the better. A lot of people tend to hide
their nerves and their being unprepared by using a lot of words. The problem
is, they tend to miss the point when they do this. Speaking clearly and with
as few words as possible shows confidence in your own opinions, and that
makes you a much better public speaker than those who just seem to rely on
their wide vocabularies.
- Watch your words.
Lastly, youíve got to listen to yourself. You do not want to say something
youíll eventually regret. Some things might be private matters to others in
the audience, or certain words can be offensive to others. Even the tone in
which you speak affects the reception of your speech. Listen to the words
that are coming out of your mouth to make sure youíre saying what you want
your audience to hear.
An impromptu speech will unnerve the best
public speaker. One of the most daunting experiences a person can face is the
request to deliver a speech without notice.
When caught off guard, many people can suffer
extreme anxiety about speaking off the cuff. That's why smart people are always
Teachers will sometime assign impromptu
speeches based on homework assignments. While this may seem like a cruel trick
from a student's point of view, it is actually great preparation for life.
Adults often find themselves called upon to
stand and deliver at social events, business meetings, club meetings, and family
What if this happened to you? Would you be
An Impromtu or Unexpected Speech
Rarely will you be asked to stand and deliver a
speech with no warning and no time to organize your thoughts. This would be
unusual in the classroom, unless the teacher is attempting to make a point about
the importance of preparedness.
Nonetheless, at some point in your life you may
be asked to speak without notice. There are a few things you can do to avoid
panic and embarrassment.
- Grab a pen and a piece of paper,
whether it is a napkin, envelope, or the back of a piece of paper you have
- Feel free to acknowledge that you have
not prepared for a speech. Do this in a professional way! This should
not be an attempt to garner pity, but rather a way to put yourself and your
audience at ease. Then, excuse yourself for a moment and take time to jot
down a quick outline. Zone out the audience. They will be okay chatting and
sipping water for a minute.
- Jot down interesting or significant
points about your topic, which will be related in some way to the event
you're attending. If it is a homework assignment you are addressing, for
instance, write down your impression of the assignment or anecdotes about
your time spent on it.
Was it difficult? Why? Did you run into any
road blocks during this assignment? Did you have the material you needed?
Did your little brother interrupt you several times?
If you do nothing else, write down an
introductory sentence and an ending sentence.
Your ending line is particularly important.
If you can walk away gracefully, your speech will be a success. Keep your
zinger for last.
- Hijack the topic. Your goal is to
deliver a one-sided conversation, off the cuff, so you are in complete
control. Relax and make it your own. If you want to make this a funny story
about your pesky little brother who always bothers you during homework time,
then do it. Everyone will applaud your effort.
- Begin with your introductory sentence,
elaborate, then start working your way to your ending sentence. Fill in
the middle space with as many points as you can, elaborating on each one as
you go. Just concentrate on the zinger you've reserved for the end.
- As you deliver your speech, concentrate
on diction and tone. If you are thinking about this, you are not
thinking about the eyes watching you. This really works! Your mind can't
think about too many things at once, so think about enunciating your words
and controlling your tone, and you'll maintain more control.
What if You Draw A Blank?
If you have time before your speech, create an
outline of the major themes or points and commit it to memory with a
memorization trick, like an acronym. Don't try to remember the entire speech in
detail like this; just remember the order of important points.
If you suddenly lose your train of thought or
draw a complete blank, there are a few you can do to keep from panicking.
- Pretend like you're pausing on purpose.
Walk back and forth slowly, as if you're letting your last point sink in.
- There is always a joker or popular person
who will stand out in the crowd. Stare at someone like this and try to draw
a response from him or her while you think.
- If you need more time to think, you may
want to ask the audience a question. Have a few prepared ahead, like "Do you
have any questions," or "Can everyone hear me okay?"
- If you still can't remember what to say,
make up a reason to pause the speech. You can say, "I'm sorry, but my throat
is very dry. Can I please get a glass of water?" Someone will go to get you
a drink, and you will have time to think of two or three points to talk
If these tricks don't appeal to you, think of
your own. The trick is to have something ready ahead of time.