A Five Step Formula for Practicing Impromptu Speaking

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Do you believe you can prepare for impromptu speaking? Off-the-cuff speaking opportunities present themselves to us every day in the form of job interviews, staff meetings, client interactions, etc.

As a member of Toastmasters International, I recently discovered their five step formula for learning how to perform better in whatever impromptu speaking situation might come your way.

Listen

A good response is dependent on an attentive attitude and careful listening can provide part of your response. If you agree, your reply will reflect your attention by reinforcing the other person’s words. If you disagree, you can tactfully amend or correct the original statement.

Be careful not to interject your own ideas before the other person has finished. Instead, focus on what is being said, rather than what YOU are going to say next. The advantages are:

  • People are more likely to respect and listen to your ideas when you listen to them
  • You’ll be able to incorporate some of what you’ve heard into your reply
  • You’ll improve your chances of commenting directly on what you’ve heard so you can give an on-target response

Pause

Pausing before you speak allows you to refresh your thoughts and formulate an answer. A pause can add drama, allow the audience to absorb your message, or give them the opportunity to respond to humor.

Confirm

Repeating or confirming the question out loud provides you with a clearer idea of how to respond and will help you verify the topic in case you misunderstood the question.

Tell

Be enthusiastic but stay focused and on point. Don’t give in to the urge to analyze EVERY aspect of the topic.

End

Once you have said what you want to say, don’t belabor the point. Bring your comments to a close.

A Few Other Tips:

  • Be confident. Remind yourself that pausing is okay and restating the question will help you steady your response.
  • Be brief. It is easy to stray off topic and begin repeating statements, adding new points or, backtracking. Stick to your main points.
  • Be sincere. Trying to be inventive when you don’t know the answer to a question is risky. It is better that you admit if you don’t know how to respond.

Being able to respond spontaneously is an excellent mental habit to cultivate. It takes time and effort to develop. Practice the basics and you too will feel confident when those impromptu speaking opportunities present themselves.

Source: Toastmasters International

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