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How to banish impromptu speaking blues

You’re called upon to say a few words spontaneously.
What do you?
Freeze and mumble.
Give the opportunity to someone else whom you know will do it better.
Or do you graciously accept and rising to you feet, deliver an effective impromptu speech.

Obviously most of us would like to be fluent, engaging and intelligently articulate in an instant. While that may be true for some, it isn’t for many. However the ability to almost immediately summon up a well-crafted speech from thin air can be learnt. With confidence arising from the practice of a few simple skills you’ll soon be an accomplished impromptu speaker whatever the occasion.

Here’s how.

Firstly commit to memory any or all of the following speech templates.
All successful speeches adhere to a logical predictable pattern. They open with a main idea, develop it in the body and then in the conclusion, summarize it. The basic three-part structure seldom varies. What does however is the nature of that triple construction.

Past, Present, Future.

In this model, you talk about what happened in the Past, what is happening in the Present and what will happen in the Future.

Example: In the past we tried to solve the problems of waste management with rubbish dumps on the outskirts of our cities.
Now we realize this type of solution is not a solution at all. With the pressure of growing populations, it is creating more and more problems. We have contaminated our soil and water systems. Dumping is unsustainable and no longer acceptable.
The future will see a zero tolerance for such practices. How do we get there?

Cause, Effect, Remedy

Example: The cause of the challenge facing us today is…
The net effect is…
The range of possible solutions or remedies are…

Point, Reason, Example, Point…

Example: The point I wish to make is that impromptu speaking is easily learnt.
The reason being, that patterns or structures of organizing a speech are simple to memorize.
Take for example, the speech I’m giving you now. It is based on a repeated pattern of Point, Reason, Example and then the introduction of the next Point which in turn will be followed by areason and then an example.

Before, The Event, Result

Example: Prior to the birth of my first child I was an expert. I had read all the books and knew all the answers there were to know about how to be a mother and have an independent life as well. No baby was going to control me.
And then Alice arrived.
The Chaos as I learned the hard way babies don’t receive pre-digested reading material through the umbilical along with everything else. They arrive with a single purpose agenda and selfishly, that’s their own.

Your second task as a successful impromptu speaker is to seize the day: that is grasp the first good idea occurring to you and make it the focus of your speech. You only need one major point around which to build your talk.

Once you have it apply the most appropriate speech organizer or template to expand into a fully fledged speech.

If you have a few moments notice before you have to speak use them to make notes. Write down the headings of the template you’ve decided on (for example: B, E, R – Before, The Event, Result or P, R, E, P – Point, Reason, Example, Point) and jot the key words you need next to them.

From when you stand to take your place to address the audience, go slow. There is no need to rush. Take the time you need to open your speech calmly and confidently. Having begun, simply follow the pattern you decided upon.

As with everything else we learn, the first few attempts at impromptu speaking may feel risky. Continued practice will soon have the nerves under control and you’ll be speaking with fluent ease. Go for it! A birthday speech, a summary at a business meeting, an impromptu speech of thanks, a speech as part of a public meeting or forum…the possibilities and opportunities for spontaneous unprepared speeches are endless. Reach out and accept them with style.


Susan Dugdale is a freelance writer, experienced drama and speech teacher who after all her years, is still in love with words. For suggestions on overcoming anxiety of public speaking, writing speeches, rehearsing, researching, impromptu speaking, speech topics, word games, vocal variety, pace, diction and more, visit her site.http://www.write-out-loud.com


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