An impromptu speech is often the scariest type of speech you can make because you don’t get to prepare or predetermine what you’re going to say.
The speaker only gets a topic given in the form of a quotation, object, or proverb, and they have to do their best to deliver long-awaited answers.
Impromptu speech doesn’t have to be a full speech on its own. It can be a combination of answers to short quotations or terms provided during interviews or live discussions broadcast on the television.
While you can’t prepare yourself for the impromptu speech since you might not have any idea what you’ll be asked, you can still work on improving your speech and dialog with the help of the tips below!
I have also listed some great examples of impromptu speeches to give you an idea of what I am talking about.
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These 15 tips will let you know exactly how to behave during an impromptu speech, how to know what and when to say, and how to guide your speech without having too many pauses or breaks in between.
Impromptu speeches might happen suddenly for many reasons, and often, you might find yourself in front of the audience without even agreeing to it.
No matter what happens during the speech, you have to assure yourself that you’ll be alright. This means you should look up, never avoid eye contact, and breathe deeply. Thinking about something positive is a confidence boost you might need to get through the speech.
When you’re starting your impromptu speech, keep in mind that you’re not going against the audience, yet the audience will be on your side.
Therefore, you should work with the audience and focus your speech around something positive and helpful to the audience.
The goal is to have the audience listen and understand what you’re saying in your impromptu speech but also respond to the things you’re saying. Being confident in front of the audience is one thing you should do, while the other is to focus on the audience and plan a structure you’ll learn in the next tip.
Even though you might not be prepared for a speech, you will still be able to quickly develop a speech structure in your head as soon as you hear the topic, question, or object you’re given to talk about.
Every speech structure should include three steps and the speech can be structured around almost anything. The most popular structures are:
- Before/the event/the result
Think of the structure as a guideline of your speech that will help you get from start to finish as smoothly as possible. Another thing to keep in mind is that you can tell your structure/plan to your audience so they can easily keep up with your speech and know what to expect from it.
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When you come up with a quick structure for your impromptu speech, you’re left to deliver the speech, but one thing you should keep in mind is not to ramble.
Rambling won’t get you anywhere; you’ll feel unease, and your audience won’t follow your speech easily.
Instead, it would help if you stuck to the “less is more” saying, stick to the target, and keep things short and to the point.
With a proper structure plan, you’ll have three key points (no matter what they are), so by splitting your speech into three sections, you’ll be able to judge how much time you should spend talking about each section.
Many try to stand out by actions, gestures, and confidence during their impromptu speech. While this is also important, there’s something even more important.
The first and the last sentence are the most memorable. It’s all about the primacy and recency, and most of the audience will most likely remember the first and the last thing you say.
Therefore, starting and finishing with powerful sentences that go well with your given topic and are linked to the message you deliver in the speech is super important as it will have the biggest impact if properly executed.
Talking in front of the audience can be scary, but without preparation, talking in front of the audience can be even scarier.
Instead of feeling the pressure, feeling uncomfortable, or sweating buckets, you should go on with your impromptu speech as if you were talking to a group of friends.
You don’t have to fake anything, as the audience will see right through it. Instead, be yourself and try to do your best as this will always provide a better result.
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The great thing about impromptu speeches is that they can go in your favor. If you don’t know what to talk about or what to include in your speech, here’s one tip that can help change the way you do your speech.
Try to think of a personal story that will be relevant to the subject of your impromptu speech. This will give you a topic to talk about, you won’t have to do any research or try to come up with facts that you will have to somehow back up, and your audience will love a personal story.
Personal stories are always easier to follow, and they’ll always go down well with any audience. Another piece of advice is to include a personal story in the middle section of your speech, but you can place it somewhere near the beginning of the speech.
When you take care of everything else before the speech and during the speech itself, many speakers forget to think of the voice tone.
There’s not much to overthink and you should speak slowly. Rushing might get you near the end sooner, but your speech won’t be a smooth ride.
Instead, take your time, focus on your breathing, rely on pauses, and have an impact while you deliver the key parts of the speech.
Confident actions are the most powerful body language actions that are not hard to get right, yet you might have to remind yourself to be “presentable”.
Standing tall on both your feet, not slouching over, keeping eye contact, using hand gestures, and avoiding fiddling are some of the things that will make you look confident.
Such confident actions will go well with your speech structure, confident voice tone, and relaxed, personalized speech.
Learning a couple of hand gestures will also put you at ease as you won’t have to wonder what to do with your hands during the speech.
Every speaker wishes for their speech to be perfect, but an impromptu speech is the worst time to expect a perfect speech from yourself.
Therefore, it’s okay to lower the bar and focus on the execution and let the main goal be the smooth flow.
Setting the bar too high will only put you under pressure. In reality, most impromptu speeches happen due to unpredicted reasons, so if you’re put under the spotlight unwillingly and unprepared, the audience will notice, and they’ll understand, so there’s nothing to be afraid of.
You might not ever be prepared for a specific impromptu speech, but if you’ve been put into the spotlight once, you can be put under the spotlight again.
What you can do is practice quickly coming up with a speech structure on any given topic. Even if you have only a couple of minutes, you can develop a quick and concise structure and rehearse it in your head or in front of a mirror before you go in front of the audience.
And if you have a couple of hours, you can do a lot of practicing and even go through all these tips and be fully ready, no matter what the audience throws at you.
No matter what the speech is about, you can always add a bit of humor to it. Don’t overdo it, but even a tiny bit of humor can help you make a better connection with your audience, ensure they pay attention to what you’re saying, and that they’re intrigued to hear what’s next.
Followed with a personalized story, you’ll have the audience hooked up until the end of the speech.
Of course, humor should come naturally, and you shouldn’t do it if you feel like you have to force it. But keep in mind that humor can be a great ice breaker, so it’s never a bad idea to keep it as a “secret weapon”.
Unfortunately, you’ll likely feel stuck or not know what to say next during your impromptu speech.
Just the thought of this can paralyze many speakers who are put under the spotlight. However, there’s a quick tip you can use to turn the block in your head into an advantage.
Instead of worrying if your audience noticed, try to “fake” a meaningful pause whenever you’re feeling stuck. During this pause, you can relax, and sooner than you know it, you will think of something.
The best thing is, your audience will never notice that “something’s wrong”, and yet this will also give them a breather and help them continue following your speech.
Less is more, and during impromptu speeches that can go extremely wrong, it’s better to cut your speech short and yet deliver everything you believe is valuable to the audience.
In other words, it’s better to regret not saying something than to say too much and then be on the spot from where you can’t turn back.
Also, keeping things short will help you stay in control of your impromptu speech and even look a lot more confident during your performance!
Since most impromptu speeches happen unexpectedly, not only will you have to come up with something from nothing, but you’ll also have to give the audience something you’re looking for.
Therefore, depending on the setting of your speech, you might try and turn your impromptu speech into a Q&A session, just like the journalistic interview type.
This will help you think less about what your whole speech will look like and focus on things the audience asks you in pieces.
You’ll still have full control over the answer, so turning a speech into a Q&A session is never a bad idea.
We’ll now take a look at some of the best examples of impromptu speeches to draw inspiration from.
In this impromptu speech example, the speaker only took two minutes for a quick structure plan from where she was put under the spotlight straight away.
A great start with a personalized story that leads straight into the argument. During the argument, clear signs of uncertainty are visible, but the speaker did well by slowing the speech down and taking a couple of very short meaningful pauses.
Prepared with examples which is a bonus, the speaker went through her speech structure with ease. There were moments where the speaker was nervous, but she kept it well together and even seemed confident in her speech at times.
Use gestures, confident actions, eye contact with the audience, and all other positive things you can learn from the tips above.
Closing the speech without any rumbling and getting the point straight across to the audience is a memorable way to end the speech, which is why this is one of many perfect examples of an impromptu speech.
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This is a short yet educative impromptu speech example where the speaker, Chris Gurrie, gets assigned a random topic by the audience and then guides the viewers of this video on how to plan a perfect impromptu speech structure.
While you would usually have around two minutes for the planning and practice process, Chris does it in about 30 seconds.
Chris starts his impromptu speech with many questions that come from a personalized story that then leads into the main topic of the speech.
What Chris also does is focuses on his audience and he shares his planned structure.
Chris’s impromptu speech is full of valuable information the audience might not have been aware of, which then ties to things on a larger scale. Even though Chris only took 30 seconds to work on the speech plan, he looks very relaxed, confident, with a strong game right until the end of the speech.
What’s interesting enough is that if you didn’t know this was an impromptu speech, you might not even know. Therefore, this is a perfect example of how good you can get at impromptu speeches without knowing the subject beforehand.
If you prefer learning from a video example, this four-minute video is everything you’ll need to gain the confidence to do an impromptu speech.
In this example, you’ll learn opportunities where impromptu speaking might be required. Of course, all of the opportunities are the ones where you don’t have much time to prepare.
However, with the techniques covered in this example video, you’ll learn how to manage last-minute speeches.
Lastly, the video will teach you all the benefits of holding impromptu speeches.
Even though this is an educational-type video, if you have a better look, you would notice that this whole video is less than five minutes long, and it’s scripted in a way to serve as yet another impromptu speech example.
Therefore, as you learn how to perform an impromptu speech, you’re watching an impromptu speech which is a brilliant idea.
Preparing yourself for an impromptu speech is only half the job, so in this video, you also learn how to deliver your impromptu speech with more useful tips.
Planning a structure for your impromptu speech is super important. The thing about the structure is that you can develop any three- or four-step process that will get you through the speech.
This video is a perfect example of a thesis-point-story format where Chris, the speaker, gets assigned a random topic from where he creates the thesis-point structure, shares it with the students, and gets down to the speech itself.
With word play, Chris slowly introduces the topic to the audience, and while he speaks to his students as his friends, he is getting down to the story’s main point.
As Chris goes through his impromptu speech, you can also notice that he asks the audience plenty of questions, and by answering his questions, he is slowly revealing the whole story behind the point of his impromptu speech.
Even though this example might be a bit complicated to understand, you can also learn from Chris’s body language, how he speaks, and how he controls his speech as he’s a highly skilled impromptu speaker.
In this four-minute impromptu speech example video, Angel Anderson teaches you exactly what impromptu speaking is, how to practice it, and even shows an example full of important tips that can help you develop the same skills.
Angel uses a question-style topic, after which he sets the timer for two minutes for his impromptu speech.
With this type of question, Angel starts his impromptu speech with a personal story that gets interesting, which ensures that the audience follows him.
Not only did Angel answer a question, but he also shared an anecdotal story, and even then, he shared some more information connected to this story.
By far, Angel’s video is not the perfect impromptu speech, but it’s a real example of how easily you can work on your impromptu speech, practice, and learn as you progress.
Of course, this example is ideal for all interview-type impromptu speeches, which can be as hard as the topic-type speeches.
Impromptu speech can seem scary at first, but with plenty of preparation and practice, you will be able to speak on any topic without much preparation.
These 15 tips are everything you’ll need to start, develop, and finish your impromptu speech while being confident both verbally and nonverbally.
On top of that, these five examples show you how impromptu speech is done first-hand. Remember that you shouldn’t aim for perfection, but even tiny improvements are a good step forward to achieving a decent impromptu speech.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.