Have you ever given an impromptu speech before? Maybe you have, but you didn’t know that it was one. An impromptu speech is speaking in public without prior notice. Imagine facing a crowd of unfamiliar faces where you need to talk for a couple of minutes without preparation. Terrifying, isn’t it? The experience can be horrifying even for the most seasoned speakers. Though unlikely to happen often, it still is best to be ready when the situation comes up. Here are some helpful tips.

Let’s begin with delving deeper into what impromptu speech is. Sometimes called “off the cuff” or “spur of the moment”, an impromptu speech is delivered with little or no preparation. However, there is almost always prior knowledge on the topic.

An example could be a student in a class with assigned reading. The teacher may ask a student to discuss a topic found in the assignment. During small informal meetings, the audience would typically cut off an impromptu speech to ask questions. These questions help steer the address and information given. When comedians reply to hecklers, whether planned or not, is another example.

Tips on how to give fantastic impromptu speeches

If you have a few minutes to spare before giving your impromptu speech, you can:

Write quick notes: You must first grab a pen or paper (or whatever is available that you can write on) to jot down a few ideas, which you can expound on while speaking. If you can’t think of anything to draft, focus on the two most important: your starting and ending sentences.

Choose a tone: Ponder on the tone you wish to speak in, which depends on the kind of event you are attending. Speaking at a wedding means you can talk informally and have fun with it. Meanwhile, business conferences would require a more formal and professional tone.

The Frameworks

Choosing a framework will make it easier for you as it provides structure to your speech. All you need to do is scribble keywords for each point, and voila, you instantly feel prepared.

Understanding the 5 Ws:

Providing answers and following their order will organise your thoughts easily.

  1. Who – pertains to the people involved in the event or the people coming
  2. What – the event you are in and the common goals
  3. Where – talk about the location and the initiatives surrounding the event
  4. When – discuss the timing of the event and what can happen in the future
  5. Why – the reason and purpose why you and everyone else attended the event


Use a diplomatic framework

This framework is suitable for formal occasions like business conferences. When using this framework, you can begin by discussing the pros and cons of the subject topic and then end it with a conclusion. It will make your speech informative and prompt you to speak for a longer duration than using the 5 Ws. When you need to pause and ponder what you’re going to say next, you may opt to walk up and down the stage as if you are letting your last point sink in. You can also ask for questions or even for a glass of water. The techniques will buy you some time and prevent you (and your audience) from feeling the awkward silence.

Use storytelling

Storytelling befits informal events like weddings and book launches. It is a powerful manner of speaking and is an effortless way to connect with your audience. When you’re unprepared, you can start small and progress from there. Discuss the event from an individual perspective, then a group and go on until you end with the bigger picture.

Practice makes perfect

Although impromptu speeches are difficult to practice because of their nature, virtual reality gives you the chance to prepare in a realistic environment. You can enhance your quick thinking by going through random topics and talking about them for 30 seconds each. This brain training will boost your ability to give speeches on short notice. Knowing how to deliver impromptu speeches correctly will save you from a lot of anxiety when asked to speak at the last minute.

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