Preparing an Impromptu Speech: Topic Choice, Outline Preparation & Practice

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  • 0:01 What's an Impromptu…
  • 0:37 How to Choose a Topic
  • 1:09 Preparing for an…
  • 3:04 Practicing the Speech
  • 3:26 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kat Kadian-Baumeyer

Kat has a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management and teaches Business courses.

An impromptu speech requires thinking on your feet, but that does not mean there aren't a few rules to follow, preparation and practice involved. Impromptu speeches need some of the same kind of planning as any speech.

What's an Impromptu Speech About?

Remember when you were in the fifth grade? After returning from summer break, your teacher called you to the front of the class to talk about what you did on vacation. Yeah, you remember that. Your mind went blank, your palms became sweaty and you completely forgot everything, including your name!

Well, what you were actually asked to do was deliver an impromptu speech. That is nothing more than an unplanned speech about a topic. Generally, there is little planning or preparation for a speech of this sort. However, that is not to say that you would want to simply wing it.

How to Choose a Topic

Since an impromptu speech usually doesn't require a whole lot of planning, the topic should be one that is familiar to the speaker. Here are some examples of impromptu speeches:

  • Your boss asks you to update the team on the progress of a project.
  • Your professor asks you to describe the most important thing you learned all semester.
  • Your softball teammates ask you to say a few words about your winning season.

As you see, there is not much time to prepare to speak. So, just how do you get through one of these moments?

Preparing for an Impromptu Speech

For one, think about what you're going to speak about. Once the topic is clear, break it down into pieces as you would with any other type of speech. The introduction familiarizes the audience with what you're about to say. This part should contain a main idea or central purpose for the speech.

Let's practice: 'Good afternoon team. I'm Coach Wigglesworth, and I want to speak to my best players about the winningest season ever for the Baltimore Crab Claws All-Star Badminton Team.'

You see, the coach brings the team up to speed about the topic - a winning season. Next, the speaker should quickly think about the body, where he will use sub-points to elaborate on the speech. In the body, you should have:

  • Point
  • Support
  • Example

Okay, we will listen in to see what Wigglesworth has to say next. 'Team, we won 10 championships over the past 11 years, making the Crab Claws the best team in the nation. See our award to prove it. We also have some of the best players in the world on our team. Many of our players won the Herbert Scheele Trophy. Finally, our team is destined to go to the World Championships of Badminton this year. The invitation is posted in the locker room.'

Yes, the coach nailed it! He mentioned three sub-topics in the body of the speech. He also provides either support or an example for the team so that they clearly understand what he is talking about.

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