- Practicing speaking impromptu: Everyone is not really good or effective in speaking impromptu. It is quite a common sight to see a speaker getting nervous, sweating losing fluency or fidgeting when asked to speak without notice. That is why it is very important for almost everybody to practice speaking impromptu. Various techniques have been developed for this purpose. One such technique is a game that can be easily played in a group. Some topics are written on small pieces of paper that is folded and dropped into a box. The box is then shaken and passed from person to person by turns. A person picks up a folded paper from the box at random. On unfolding it he finds a topic on which he is supposed to speak. As it is a game, people like to participate in it and get useful practice in speaking impromptu.
Another game is the linkage technique. In it a member of a group, or a student in a class, starts telling a story and abruptly stops. Then the person sitting next to him picks up the thread of the story and starts telling the next part that he thinks would be the logical next stage in the story. And thus it goes on, leading to very stimulating, funny or thrilling episodes in a long story. Participating in games like these gives one sufficient practice in speaking without preparation.
- “Don’t talk impromptu – give an impromptu talk” – says Dale Carnegie. There is a significant meaning in this exhortation. Let us ask ourselves – “Do we really talk impromptu?” The fact is that as soon as we are asked to speak on any topic our mind starts organizing our thoughts on it. In this way what really takes places is an impromptu talk that has a logical structure in the same way as a long, prepared speech. The only difference is that in a prepared speech we have had sufficient time to organize our thinking, gather sufficient, relevant material/data and come out with a well thought out conclusion. An impromptu talk has also a similar structure. How well structured our impromptu talk will be depends on how much we have been practicing to speak impromptu. The more we practice, the better structured our impromptu talks will be.
- Be mentally prepared to speak impromptu. It is indeed a good practice to keep visualizing what we would say about something if we were suddenly asked to stand up/take the microphone in a larger gathering, and speak. Let us analyse how much we know about a certain subject and what we would like to say about it. It naturally implies that we must keep gathering as much information as possible in our area of interest as possible. Not only that. We must create/find out newer areas of interest and be mentally prepared to speak on it on our own or to add to what someone else is speaking on it. In this way it is a matter of conditioning ourselves to speak impromptu.
- Give examples from your experience. The best way to gain confidence in an impromptu speech is to give examples from our own experience. It not only gives substance to our speech but also involves the audience in a more meaningful relationship with us. Telling about our own experience requires no preparation. That is why we are advised by communication experts to enlist our significant experience and come out with relevant examples whenever we are required to speak.
- Genuine interest in the audience. Just as our interest in our experiences and examples there form are a source of confidence in an impromptu talk so is our interest in the audience. If we care to know about the interest and inclinations of the audience we will be able to talk impromptu without much difficulty.
- Remember quotations, proverbs, maxims etc. From the very beginning of our education we are exposed to all kinds of writings and specially taught to remember pithy, meaningful quotations for all occasion. For an impromptu speech they are very useful. Every good newspaper and magazine gives us memorable quotations every day. It is a good practice to note them and use them whenever the need arises. We must have a sharp, tenacious memory for this purpose.
- Remember jokes, humorous anecdotes etc. Everybody is interested in jokes and humorous anecdotes. They are easy to remember and very useful for an impromptu speaker. One can always start off with a joke or an anecdote without unnecessarily being self conscious.
- Make use of incidents in the lives of great men. All of us read a lot about great men and remember almost all the major incidents in their lives. By repeatedly turning them out in our minds we make them, consciously or unconsciously, our models, since we remember them so well, it is always easy to see their relevance to any situation and start off an impromptu speech with a suitable reference or to find a place for them somewhere in the course of our speech
- Size up the patience level of the audience. In the light of the point given above it is also important to have to have an eye on the mood and patience level of the audience. Almost all the listeners know about all the great figures that we have in our mind and to whose lives we choose to make a reference. So, we have also to keep in mind that the audience can’t be patient with the repetition of what they know. The speaker has to be sharp enough to see what to say, when and in what connection.
- Get involved, don’t participate. One can’t make a successful impromptu speech without getting involved in the communication situation at the moment. At such a moment the listeners are really in a mood to receive what we say. But they are certainly not in a mood to be ‘told’ or sermonized or pontificated. The style of a long prepared and circulated, or read – out speech may at times assume the overtones of pontification or serious words of advice. But an impromptu speech is best received if it is light hearted and forceful with a sense of empathy with the listeners.
- “Brevity is the soul of wit”. Once one states speaking, one may go on and on. This is indeed a temptation, because, just as we love our name, so do we love to hear our own voice. The message, therefore, is that we must be adept in making impromptu speeches that are short and sweet. A long, rambling speech acts like a sedative to the audience. Snoring or yawning listeners are quite a common sight.
Occasions like a new member joining our group/team, somebody leaving the organization, the news of a flash strike, congratulating somebody on his achieving a distinction or getting married, proposing a vote of thanks, inaugurating a fair/a club, welcoming a visitor, an emergency meeting convened at just an hour’s notice are among the ones on which we speak impromptu. There are certain well known and time – honored conventions for all these occasions. But an effective speaker is one who makers his speech effective by following the guidelines given above.