Do you dread impromptu speaking?

Posted By on May 15, 2012


Here's the mic

I was speaking with a client this morning who told me his boss was a superb speaker.  In fact, he said, there are times it makes him jealous.  My client said he is witness to his boss jotting notes on cue cards for 15 minutes, only to take the stage a few minutes later and proceed to mesmerize an audience of 400 people for 45 minutes.

This skill has been cultivated.

Most leaders will need to work hard to achieve this level of impromptu speaking skill.  The more energy, commitment and investment you put into working on your speaking skills, the bigger the pay off. Like my client’s boss, you want to be at the top of your game!

Here are a few tips to help you to seize the moment when you feel the moment has seized you!

Impromptu Speaking Tips:

  • Take a moment to think. Consider your audience. Who are they? Why are they in the room? What interests them? What observations have you made during the time you’ve been with the group thus far? What insights, facts or observations might you share?
  • What result(s) do you most want to have happen as a result of your communication?  Do you want to inspire the audience? Inform them? Persuade them?
  • Identified a message that supports your result and will tie into the audience’s interest and reason for being there. Draw upon what’s been said by speakers who have spoken before you or an upcoming portion of the program, a strange occurrence or interruption in the proceedings.
  • Put the message into a story. Jot down your key points in the order you want to make them. A napkin, 3×5 card, or sheet of paper will do. Use large lettering so you can see it at a glance.
  • Choose one of the Top Ten Speaking StrengthsTM you have to emphasize during your delivery.
  • Keep it short. It is worth remembering what Dorothy Sarnoff famously said: “Make sure you have finished speaking before your audience has finished listening.”

Just like my client’s boss, these few minutes of preparation will pay off. You’ll have a relevant message that is well organized and interesting to the group.

Remember, speaking for impact is not an accident. It’s a skill. If you want to sharpen your speaking skills, attend our seminar, Speaking for Impact, or call about private coaching. We’ll be glad to help you up your game!

Share your thoughts

What do you do when you are asked to speak on-the-spot? Share your experiences – good and bad – and any tips others may find helpful by posting a comment to this post.


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