You need to be ready to speak even when you are caught off guard

Will You Be Ready For Your Next Impromptu Speech?

You need to be ready to speak even when you are caught off guard
You need to be ready to speak even when you are caught off guard
Image Credit: Photo by Headway on Unsplash

Isn’t it great when you have time to prepare to give a speech? At home you can sit down, think about what you want to say, lay it all out on paper and then make changes in order to ensure that your ideas flow smoothly from start to finish. This is all well and good; however, in real life we don’t always get the chance to prepare to give a speech. No matter if its in a business meeting, at an organizational get together, or when we’re hanging out with friends and family, there are times that everyone turns to look at you and you are expected to deliver a speech right then and there. What’s a speaker to do now?

Don’t Trip Yourself Up

So what can stand in our way when we are called on to give an impromptu speech? The first thing that we need to realize, after the initial feeling of panic, is that our number one obstacle is going to be ourselves. Although these situations can make us feel stressed or uncomfortable, we also often immediately feel as though we need to show off and share the importance of public speaking with our audience. We want to deliver a great off-the-cuff speech and what is going to happen is that we are going to start to judge ourselves as we think about what we are going to be saying and weigh it against some made up internal criteria. This kind of evaluation before you talk thing is going to end up limiting you.

So what’s the right way to handle this? How about if you just find a way to be comfortable giving a good speech? Take some of that pressure off of yourself and you’ll boost your chances of doing a good job. If you try to do a fantastic job at this, its just going to get in your way. The problem with all of this is that our brains are trained to try to help us succeed at everything that we attempt. However, if you allow yourself to just do a good job and don’t force yourself to do a great job then you’ll be able to avoid tripping yourself up.

See This As A Learning Opportunity

If you are like most of us, you don’t look forward to when you find yourself in a situation where all of a sudden you have to come up with a speech. In all honesty, it sorta feels like you vs the audience. I’m going to ask you to try to change the way that you look at these opportunities. Instead of seeing them as a challenge, instead look at them as though they were a unique opportunity for you. Think of this type of speech as being a chance for you to explain or expand upon something important for your audience. If you can do this, then you may be able to better connect with your audience.

One of the best ways to view these types of opportunities is to take a look at the world of improv. In those situations, the actors often hand off scenes to each other. What’s important is that the actor who gets handed the scene needs to learn to say “Yes, and…” so that they can run with whatever they have been handed. What this way of thinking teaches improv players is to not only embrace the situation that they find themselves in, but then to also build upon it to make it better. This is exactly the kind of mindset that speakers need to have when called on to give a speech that they are not ready for.

It’s All About Structure

Not only do we have to give a speech when we are all of sudden called upon to do so, but our speech also has to be able to be understood by our audience. What this means for us is that we are going to have to find ways to structure what we are saying. The one thing that we don’t want to do is to just start speaking off of the top of our head because that will very quickly end up leading us nowhere. Instead, we’ve got to come up with a way to give a speech that will allow our audience to process what we tell them.

The good news is that you already know a couple of different ways that you can structure your off-the-cuff speech. One of the simplest is the problem-solution-benefit speech. The good news about this approach is that it is both effective and persuasive. Another approach is to use the What? So What? Now What? approach. This is a powerful way to connect with your audience and answer the questions that they are thinking as they start to realize what their questions are.

What All Of This Means For You

In a perfect world anytime that we were asked to give a speech we’d have plenty of time to create, practice, and get ready to deliver it so that we could share the benefits of public speaking. However, of course, we don’t live in a perfect world and so this means that we need to understand that there will be times when out of the blue we get called upon to stand up and deliver a speech. When this happens, what do we need to do as speakers in order to do a good job?

The first thing that we need to make sure that we do is to prevent us from tripping ourselves up. We don’t have to be perfect when we give this speech and we need to realize this. Give yourself permission to do an ok job and you’ll take a lot of the pressure off of yourself. You also need to see this speech as being an opportunity for you to grow as a speaker, not an obstacle. Learn from how improv players hand off scenes between each other and run with it. In order to make sure that your audience gets something out of the speech that you give, you will need to be sure to structure your speech. There are a number of common structures that you can use.

No, nobody really looks forward to being put on the spot and having to give a speech without having a chance to practice it. However, opportunities to give speeches like this do show up and we need to be ready to deal with them when they come. Understanding how we need to approach them and how we can create speeches on the spot that will deliver valuable content to our audiences is the key to our success. The next time you get put on the spot to give a speech, take your time and make it a great speech.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: When you get asked to give a speech, do you think that you should ask for some time to get ready?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

The one thing that I think that I can say that everyone will agree with me about is that when we go to the trouble of giving a speech, we want to be remembered. In order to make this happen, what we say has to use the importance of public speaking to connect with our audience. What we need to understand is that the facts that we include in our speech are not going to be tied to the audience’s emotions and therefore won’t be remembered. However, if we can work stories into our speech then we will have discovered our greatest tool that we can use to both connect with our audience and engage them.

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