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Impromtu Speech

In Fifteen Minutes

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An impromptu speech is a daunting assignment in anybody's book. If you find yourself preparing for a speech with little time to prepare, then you should take advantage of every second.

Often you will have some time to prepare for a speech, even if it is fifteen minutes. The most important thing you can do during your preparation time is write an outline.

Your speech should be informative, naturally, but a really good speech will also evoke some emotion in your audience. As you plan your speech, 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 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. Make an outline. Think of several points and organize them. Keep a great line for the ending.

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

  4. Practice your beginning and your ending. 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 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.

  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 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. What if You Have No Time To Prepare?

    Keeping Your Cool When Speaking

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