10 top tips for delivering an impromptu speech

No time to prepare? Take heart - and take note.

by Jeremy Cassell and Tom Bird

For many of us it’s the worst case scenario – suddenly having to deliver an impromptu presentation. Being asked to speak in public is a major challenge for many leaders. Being asked to speak spontaneously as well as publicly can catapult the task straight into the very-difficult, to-be-avoided-at-all-times-I'd-rather-die category. The negative possibilities appear grave – your brain freezes, you mumble incoherently or you appear to lose all gravitas.

Yet these scenarios happen all the time – introducing yourself at networking events, giving a toast at a company party, unexpectedly being pulled into a meeting to give an update, having a colleague directly turn to you in the middle of a presentation for input or being asked an unexpected question on a panel. 

While you may wish for thorough preparation, giving an extemporaneous speech can mark you out as an excellent communicator. It’s how you handle yourself when you are least prepared that often demonstrates your leadership and influencing abilities.

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