There comes a time in any person’s life when he’ll have to give an impromptu speech. It may be for anything – a friend’s bachelor party, a teacher trying to get you to speak up in class, or even in a casual debate. It happens more often than most people would think.
Now the prospect of this may seem frightening to some. You certainly wouldn’t want to look like an idiot in front of a group of people. Fortunately, there are ways you can circumvent nerves and avoid stammering like a fool while you find the right words to say. Here’s some advice on how to give a good impromptu speech:
- Know your direction. You’ve got to know how you want to deliver your speech before you actually speak. Should you go the serious, awe-inspiring route, or the hysterical, laugh-a-minute path? The best way you can make a decision is to get a quick feel for your audience. What type of people are they? What direction would they most accept? Your speech will be praised significantly more if you speak in a language that works with those listening.
- Prepare some backup. It isn’t uncommon to forget what you were going to say. What separates a good speech from a disaster is how well you can catch yourself. It’s good to have a backup plan for the times when your mind suddenly blanks. That way, if you’re caught without something to say, you can maneuver yourself out of that situation gracefully instead of gibbering and shaking in a nervous sweat. In serious situations, you can bail yourself out with a polite way of excusing yourself. If you’re going for laughs, it’s okay to be candid about your mental block.
- Plot a course. Before you speak, try to make a quick mental outline of what you want to say. Some of the worst speeches came out of people who didn’t take a moment to organize their thoughts before opening their mouths. Your outline doesn’t even have to be in-depth; all you really need is a guide to help keep your thoughts on track.
- Keep it short and sweet. Impromptu speeches aren’t expected to be long, epic narratives. In fact, the more concise you get, the better. A lot of people tend to hide their nerves and their being unprepared by using a lot of words. The problem is, they tend to miss the point when they do this. Speaking clearly and with as few words as possible shows confidence in your own opinions, and that makes you a much better public speaker than those who just seem to rely on their wide vocabularies.
- Watch your words. Lastly, you’ve got to listen to yourself. You do not want to say something you’ll eventually regret. Some things might be private matters to others in the audience, or certain words can be offensive to others. Even the tone in which you speak affects the reception of your speech. Listen to the words that are coming out of your mouth to make sure you’re saying what you want your audience to hear.