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Impromptu Speaking: Some Tips

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

You speak fluent English all the time without issue, but when it come to improvising speech, your skills seem to falter. Applying the following tips as you speak will make it easier to organize your ideas on the spot.

  • Start with a thesis. When speaking on the spot there isn’t always time to consider specific points for coverage. However, the speaker should still have a general idea of what they wish to communicate in the first place. Stating this goal before diving into detail will help ensure that subsequent points remain on-topic and relevant to the task.

  • Include a personal story, or something else the audience can relate to. Speakers may include a personal anecdote or adage relating to the thesis to build rapport with the audience. Telling a story may also provide inspiration that leads to the development of other ideas that can then be included while speaking.

  • Don’t overuse linking devices. It’s true that conjunctions occur all the time in English, but using too many of them can make speech sound unnatural. In general, try to avoid using words like and, but, and so to begin sentences. These words sound most natural when placed between clauses.

  • Repeat the original question (when appropriate). When speaking in settings like meetings and seminars, speakers are often presented with questions that hadn’t previously been anticipated. Repeating the question accomplishes two things:

    • It grants the speaker more time to consider their answer before beginning to speak.

    • It gives the person who asked the original question the chance to clarify the question’s meaning for the audience.

  • Use rhetorical questions and meaningful pauses to buy time. Similar to repeating the original question, speakers can expand upon more complex ideas by inviting the audience to consider additional questions as they occur. Doing so allows the speaker to reframe discourse as desired. This is useful for sensitive situations where direct expansion upon the initial question may lead to negative perceptions.

  • Practice at home using random subjects/objects. The idea is simple: the more we practice speaking about a variety of topics without preparation, the easier it gets. Select a random object from around the house or use this random topic generator to pick something for you. Take 2 minutes to consider the topic and gather your thoughts. Then, time and record yourself as you speak about this object or topic for as long as possible. If you use any filler words (like “ummmm” or “uhhhh”) to kill time, the round is finished and the timer must be stopped. After each round, review your recordings. Can you find any errors? Do you have a tendency to omit certain parts of speech? Your observations allow for self-analysis and will help guide your progress as you continue practicing.

In conclusion, there are several measure that can be taken to improve public speaking skills. The quickest route to improvement is regular practice. For more tips, consider booking a trial session today. It's free, and no credit card it required. See you in the classroom!

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