Basics of Public Speaking
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Lesson 20 - Impromptu Speaking, part 1

Impromptu speaking is speaking with no preparation. You have to think on your feet and come up with a short speech immediately. This kind of situation can occur in many real settings including in meetings, during job interviews, or during telephone conversations.

It may seem that we can succeed at making impromptu speeches with little practice, but as the great writer, Mark Twain, once wrote, “It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech”! If it takes a professional write more than three weeks, then we can be forgiven if we do not do make perfect impromptu speeches with less than three weeks, or less than three minutes, preparation.

Some general tips for speaking well with little preparation:

    Tip 1: Learn how to “buy time” at the beginning, by either making a comment related to the topic, by asking a question of the audience, or by mentioning various possible items you might talk about

    Tip 2: Start with your main point early, then come back to it often during your speech

    Tip 3: Start with a strong or surprising statement, then the audience will wonder what is coming next

    Tip 4: Try to organize your speech if you can. It's not easy, but your ideas will be remembered better if you can. Here are some ideas:

      a) Organize by time – first, second, third.
      b) Organize by comparing two things.
      c) Organize by problem and solution.

Don't just suddenly stop talking. Try to end with a clear conclusion. What do you want the audience to remember? They will usually remember the last thing you tell them. Here are some suggestions:

    - Repeat your main point.
    - Repeat the solution to a problem.
    - Emphasize whatever your choice would be.
Practice is needed, so be sure to go to Toastmasters! Also, read Lesson 21 which will give you advanced ways to organize an impromptu speech.

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