Making a good speech, even on the fly

March 1, 2011

With enough practice, any one of us can be an effective public speaker.

But what about the times when we’re asked to speak on the fly?

An impromptu talk doesn’t give us the chance to research and prepare, and often requires us to think on our feet. But there are a few things we can do to prepare, courtesy of Dale Carnegie Training of Central and Southern New Jersey:

- Use your natural style. Are you a story teller? Do you use humor? How about hard data? You won’t struggle to get your point across if you stick with what you know.

- Use an example immediately. Appeal to their emotional side with an anecdote. Putting a personal spin on your talk humanizes it, making it more relevant to your audience. Not only that, but using a personal experience is an easy way to ease into your argument, as opposed to trying to develop logical supporting facts from the onset.

- Be engaging. Capture and maintain your audience’s attention. Speak with animation and conviction. Enthusiasm is contagious — the more enthusiastic you are, the more your audience will keep their attention on you. Walk around, gesture, make eye contact.

- Know there is a beginning, a middle and an end. Impromptu talks can’t just be a series of unrelated sentences strung together; they require structure — a beginning, middle and end that move from one to the next with ideas that support
your central thought logically. Speak slowly and use pauses to gather your thoughts and to let your audience digest the last thing you said.

-Keep it brief, if necessary. Don’t get hung up on how long you have been speaking. Impromptu talks aren’t like college public speaking courses — there is no set length of time. If you feel you have reached the end of your story, or that you are drifting from relevant points that support your central argument, cut to the conclusion. If nothing else, the audience will appreciate your brevity.

Do you have any tips for giving an impromptu speech? What’s worked for you in the past — and what didn’t work?

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central & Southern New Jersey. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @CarnegieJersey.

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