People have lots of fears about public speaking, and one of the most severe ones is having to speak on the spot. The idea of delivering a speech without preparation seems like a nightmare to most of us. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Impromptu speaking is a skill that can be mastered and used as a powerful tool in many situations: introducing yourself at networking events, making a toast at a party, giving an update at a meeting you’ve been suddenly pulled into, dealing with an unexpected question on a panel…
The list of extemporaneous speech examples could be continued, but we’re sure you got the point. Such situations surround us, and though preparation doesn’t seem to fit in well with the impromptu speech definition, extemporaneous speaking is actually something you can prepare for!
We’d like to take a look at the most common difficulties a person faces while delivering a speech and share some impromptu public speaking tips you can use to overcome them!
1. Speech structure
One of the first problems an impromptu speaker may face is the organization of thoughts during their performance. When you have to deliver an unexpected speech, it is vital for your message to be consistent and well-structured. Otherwise, you can lose track of what you’re saying, which is a short road to disaster for anyone with a fear of talking.
Tip: Take a pause for a few seconds to solidify your facts, position, and message. Make sure not to run off-topic or allow the err’s and um’s to sneak into your speech. And avoid the tendency to ramble. Your audience is far more likely to listen if you stay on target, so keep it short and to the point.
2. Rapport from the audience
Therefore, building a connection with the audience is vital for any speaker. It is the case in any casual talk or even in formal discussions. An impromptu speech is not an exception. People feel like listening to an individual with whom they have a rapport. Therefore, they will much more likely pay attention to your words and stay involved in your performance. Which, in its turn, helps the speaker who can observe the audience’s behavior and transform their speech taking the listeners’ interests into account. However, it can be difficult to secure such a bond with the listeners, especially when the audience consists of people whom you have never met before.
Tip: The first 2 minutes of a speech are considered to be crucial for establishing rapport with the audience. The listeners must be at ease with the speaker. To establish that bond, you can start your speech with some questions related to the topic, inciting the audience to be attentive. This will bring the audience out of its slumber and help them establish rapport with you.
3. Nonverbal cues
Nonverbal, paralinguistic methods of communication play an important role during the performance. They include the intonations speakers use, the volume, tone, and tempo of their voice, gestures, mimics, the posture they choose and many more. No surprise, it’s hard to pay attention to all these factors when you have to speak on the spot. But the lack of correct nonverbal cues may become an obstacle on the way to a passionate, influential and attention-grabbing speech you could’ve otherwise delivered.
Tip: There are several ways in which the speaker can connect with the audience without ever saying a word. Making eye contact, using appropriate facial expressions, standing straight and backing up your speech with suitable gestures are the most important ones. Study the info about them and try practicing in front of a mirror making sure that you follow the guidelines, this will make it easier to do everything right while performing in public.
4. Stage fright
Another thing that can happen is an unexpected onset of stage fright. It can happen even in social situations when you suddenly find yourself speaking in the spotlight while the formerly chatty group suddenly focuses on your words. You can flush with embarrassment, lose your train of thought and find yourself on the precipice of the dreaded awkward silence that you may try to fill with sighs, head shaking or incoherent mumbling. Prematurely ending your speech and reinforcing the general glossophobia (fear of talking to people) so many of us experience.
Tip: It’s okay to take a moment and a deep breath to give your logical side time to step out in front of your emotional reaction. This fear is definitely irrational, but it can be easy to forget that. Try using some time-proven techniques that can help you deal with anxiety on stage: focus on the friendliest faces in the audience; laugh when you can, it can help you relax; breathe slowly and mindfully (diaphragmatic breathing may become your life savior).
5. Speaking spontaneously
Oratorical speech, as a rule, is carefully prepared. In the process of thinking, developing and writing the text of the speech, the speaker relies on book-written sources (scientific, popular science, journalistic, fiction, dictionaries, reference books, etc.), therefore, the prepared text is, in fact, “book speech”. But on stage, the speaker should not just read the text of the speech from the script, but deliver it clearly and coherently, so it will be understood and accepted. That’s where elements of colloquial speech appear, and the speaker begins to improvise according to the reaction of the listeners. The speech becomes a spontaneous oral speech.
The more experienced the speaker, the better he manages to move from book-written forms to live, direct oral speech. At the same time, we should bear in mind that it’s best if the script of the speech is prepared according to the laws of oral speech, with the expectation of its utterance.
Tip: Just as with overcoming stage fright, learning to build a connection with the audience, perfecting the structure of your speech and the usage of nonverbal cues learning to speak spontaneously is a skill that undoubtedly requires practice. So the more you do it, the better you’ll get. Especially if you back it up with theoretical knowledge and time-proven techniques.
And our Impromptu speaking for Success course can help you with that. Not only will you get all the information you need to master extemporaneous speaking, but you’ll practice it with expert coaches in a comfortable, friendly environment. So by the end of the course you will be ready to use this skill in real life.
Do you want to learn how to speak on the spot? Join this free impromptu speaking class on Zoom led by impromptu speaking champion and TEDx coach from Skillsme Academy.