The Impromptu Speech Handout by qLq9rW


									                                   Impromptu and Extemporaneous Speeches
                                             Mark Twain said, “It usually takes me more than
                                           three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”
                                 “When am I ever going to be asked to speak spontaneously in front of a crowd?”

This situation actually occurs almost every day. What about the time you were asked to describe your weekend
experience or a family vacation, or to tell about a movie you saw recently, or to give someone directions, or to
explain how to use a tool or an electronic “gadget,” or to explain a topic about which you are known to be an
expert? Each time you are in a situation like this, your spoken response is spontaneously generated.

Webster’s dictionary defines the word “impromptu” as “made, done, or formed on or as if on the spur of the
moment; composed or uttered without previous preparation.”

Another word associated with impromptu is “extemporaneous” which has the same definition as “impromptu”
with the following added: “carefully prepared, but delivered without notes or text.”

The difference between Impromptu Speeches and Extemporaneous Speeches (sometimes shortened to
“extemp”) is usually the time allotted for preparation.

Impromptu speakers have absolutely no time to prepare, but extemporaneous speakers have anywhere from
a short period of time, like 5 to 30 minutes, to a few weeks. The difference is in the delivery method: the
impromptu speech is generated instantly and delivered immediately; whereas, the extemporaneous speech is
delivered using just a few notes. During the extemporaneous speech, the speaker also uses an improvisational,
somewhat conversational, delivery in which he or she pays close attention to the responses and reactions of the
audience, sometimes altering the speech content to accommodate the audience’s interests.

But, how can you be prepared for an Impromptu Speech?
   1. If you are suddenly given a topic, try to grab a scrap of paper, or even a napkin, to jot down some
      thoughts. Use what ever time you have to organize your thoughts.

   2. If the space has a chalk/dry erase board, write out a few appropriate bullet points. This step could even
      be part of your introduction.

   3. Acknowledging that you are not familiar with a topic and would like to take a moment to jot down a few
      ideas is OK, but do so professionally, and do not take more than 10 seconds (even that is too long)!

   4. Stand at the podium with confidence! Make sure the audience knows you know what you are doing,
      whether you know it or not!

   5. Look at your audience, smile, breathe, relax.

   6. During steps three and four think about what you are going to say, and consider the following questions:
         a. What's the purpose of the event/meeting/class where you are speaking?
         b. What exactly is going to happen as a result of this topic content: present, future?
         c. What do I think of this topic?
         d. What is my opinion? Do I like it or not?
         e. What are the latest news, trends, problems, policy issues regarding this topic?
     7. Never make excuses. Picture yourself in complete control and delivering a perfect speech—you are the
        man/woman of the hour!

     8. Consider your topic and decide on your point of view. Get your audience’s attention with a quick
        attention getter (see the list distributed earlier this semester). Take a stance, and support it with at least
        three strong examples/pieces of evidence, facts or arguments. Avoid rambling on without really saying
        anything. Wrap up by returning to your attention getter.
            a. Within the text of the speech, consider adding transitions to help you: 1st, 2nd, next, lastly, “Let
                me wrap this up by saying … ”
            b. Do not lie to your audience or make up bogus facts. Speculation is OK as long as you speculate
                along with a good argument.
            c. Remember, your ending line is the most important of all! Make it a good one.

     9. Accept your audience’s applause. Don’t rush back to your seat, and do not beat yourself up by worrying
        about what you did NOT do. Think about what you DID do well!

Here are some suggestions for both the impromptu speech and the extemporaneous speech from (Some of them work better when you have about 15 minutes to prepare.):

Your speech should be informative, naturally, but a really good speech will also evoke some emotion in your
audience. As you plan your speech (which might be mentally in your head as you walk up to the podium),
consider whether you want to convince, inspire, amuse, or enlighten your audience.

1.      Examine your topic. Does it lend itself well to a comparison? Examples? A demonstration? Decide on
      one method and begin your (mental) outline.

2.      Consider your strengths. Are you best at making people laugh or explaining things to other people?

      Identify your strengths to help organize your thoughts. For instance, if your impromptu topic concerns
      dress codes in school, you may want to joke about your own wardrobe during your introduction, then re-
      visit that thought during your ending.

      However, you may be more comfortable expressing your opinion to others. If so, don't try to be funny. Pick
      a style that suits your personality.

3.      If time allows, make an outline. Think of several points and organize them. Keep a great line for the

      If you do nothing else, write down an introductory sentence and an ending sentence.

      If a chalk/dry erase board is in the room, consider writing a few “bullets” on the board to address during
      your speech. You may also consider using this step as part of your introduction.

4.       Practice your beginning and your ending (mentally). These are the most stressful parts of your
      speech, and the most critical when it comes to good delivery.

      When you are comfortable with your beginning and ending, then practice your speech body. List several
      points and find ways to elaborate on each one.
5.     Give yourself a minute or two to relax. Wrap up your practice at least a few minutes before you speak.
     Give yourself time to reflect and relax.

     If you have no time to do this, at least take a moment to take in your audience with a smile, and breath.
     Then start.

6.      As you deliver your speech, concentrate on diction and tone. If you are thinking about this, you are
     not thinking about the eyes watching you. This really works. Your mind can't think about too many things
     at once, so think about enunciating your words and controlling your tone, and you'll maintain more control.

What if You Draw A Blank?

One of the things that makes us nervous is the prospect of losing it in front of everyone. The thought of drawing
a blank in front of a crowd is pretty scary. The best thing you can do is go into your speech with an outline firm
in your head.

Create an outline of the major themes or points and commit it to memory with a mnemonic trick. Don't try to
remember the entire speech in detail like this; just remember the order of important points—no more than five.

Sample Mnemonic Trick: When you establish your major points, select one code word for each point. Draw
the code words or initials on the back of each finger. Then, hold the finger in front of your face and stare at the
words or letters on your fingers to commit the picture to memory. You may also want to create an acronym with
the initials.

If you suddenly lose your train of thought or draw a complete blank, there are a few things you can do to keep
from panicking.

1.      Pretend like you're pausing on purpose. Walk back and forth slowly, as if you're letting your last point
     sink in.
2.      There is always a joker or popular person who will stand out in the crowd. Stare at someone like this and
     try to draw a response from him or her while you think.
3.      Keep walking or staring and put the crowd or audience out of your head for a moment and go over your
     major points.
4.      Picture your outline on your hand or use whatever mnemonic trick you developed.
5.      If you need more time to think, you may want to ask the audience a question. Have a few prepared
     ahead, like "Do you have any questions," or "Can everyone hear me okay?"
6.      If you still can't remember what to say, make up a reason to pause the speech. You can say, "I'm sorry,
     but my throat is very dry. Can I please get a glass of water?" Someone will go to get you a drink, and you
     will have time to think of two or three points to talk about.

If these tricks don't appeal to you, think of your own. The trick is to have something ready ahead of time.

Keep your zinger for last. Once again, if you end gracefully, your speech will be a success


To top