Caught Off Guard: Delivering a Well-Structured Impromptu Speech

Man giving a speech

Most people are afraid of public speaking. There’s something nerve-wracking and anxiety-inducing being in front of an audience who can judge what you say and your manner of speaking. The body starts to go into a fight-or-flight reaction. Palms begin to sweat, the mouth becomes dry, and the heart rate increases. You’d rather be anywhere than where you are right now.

If that’s the reaction when you prepared the presentation ahead, what more if there’s a sudden spotlight above you? Life is full of impromptu speeches. It happens when your boss is calling you in her office for a status update, a clueless friend asking how to fix the head gasket of his Subaru, or a child looking at you for an answer why bedtimes are necessary.

The key to a good answer and impromptu speech lies in knowing how to organize your thoughts and structure how you say them. If you know the template, it’s easy to plug in your explanation that makes sense and convinces people of your credibility. The general rule is to have a clear beginning, body, and end, but more patterns depend on the kind of question you must answer.

For general questions: Point – Reason – Example – Point (PREP)

PREP is the basic structure everyone must learn to structure their speech. You start with your main point or the key takeaway the audience should be left with. Be sure to focus on only one point so that it’s easier for people to follow. Then, list down the reasons why you think the point is valid. Adding research, studies, and statistics can make the point stronger since there’s a third-party source. To further illustrate both the point and reasons, you can give and highlight examples. Last is to repeat the main topic for easier recall.

man giving a speech in front of an audience

For persuading others: Problem – Solution

People become interested in what you have to say if it can give a solution to their problems. You can begin by asking a question that highlights the pain points of the audience: Are you finding it hard to sleep? Do you fight a lot with your partner? Is your savings lacking to meet your needs?

These kinds of questions will engage the imagination of the audience and will make them eager to listen to you. You can then discuss the problem in-depth, both at a personal and bird’s eye view levels, that can show they are not alone. The second half of the speech can be dedicated to the solutions and benefits they can give. Finally, it is vital to leave the audience with an action step that can push them towards applying the answer to their lives.

For highlighting the moral of a story: Story – Message – Gain (SMG)

Valuable stories have a lesson or moral at the end, whether it’s to quit a bad habit or start a better one. The art of storytelling also makes it easier for people to remember your message because it’s easier to visualize and relate to the main character. You can begin by telling a short version of your story that illustrates the point you want to stress. Then state the message or the point you want to make with some explanation why people should heed your call. The speech can end with a summary of the gain as the key takeaway.

Fears of public speaking can be managed with enough technical knowledge and dedicated practice. Self-confidence will grow after delivering speech after speech.

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