Impromptu Speech Guide and Tips

Impromptu Speech is a limited or no preparation speech in which the speaker is given a few minutes to prepare a short speech on a randomly drawn topic. The speaker usually picks a random topic from an envelope or box. Sometimes, he or she draws three topics, chooses one, and then returns the other two. Each speech should be a fresh, unique, and original presentation which is developed from the chosen topic and prepared on the spot.

Benefits of Impromptu Speech

  • Speaks with little or without notice
  • Improves oral expression of thought
  • Develops confidence in public speaking
  • Thinks quickly on one’s feet
  • Develops communication and improvisation skills

Impromptu Speech Techniques

  • Give yourself time to prepare.
  • Decide what your one message will be.
  • Feel confident and start strong.
  • Deliver slowly with clear transitions.
  • Maintain eye contact and focus.
  • Don’t memorize, throw in ‘off-the-cuff’ remarks.
  • Don’t ramble, stay on topic.
  • Don’t apologize.

Sources of Impromptu Speech Content

  • Personal experiences
  • Your opinions
  • Current events
  • Facts and figures
  • Famous personalities
  • Humor
  • Previous speaker’s remarks

Patterns of Impromptu Speech Delivery

  • PREP: Point, Reason, Example, Point
  • PPF: Past, Present, Future
  • AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action
  • CC: Compare, Contrast
  • CER: Cause, Effect, Remedy
  • BER: Before the event, the Event, the Result (also, Before and After)
  • GBI: Good (Pros), Bad (Cons), Indifferent
  • 5Ws+1H: Who, What, When, Where, Why, How

Table Topics for Impromptu Speech

Table topics are exercises in impromptu speaking where speakers respond to questions with unrehearsed mini speeches. The speaker picks a random topic or is given a question to answer. The speaker may be given 1-2 minutes to prepare or no time all. The speaker starts speaking for 1-2 minutes and doesn’t stop, till time is up. The speaker stands in front of the audience and answers questions from them. Table topics sessions are often limited to a specific theme.

Table Topics Speaking Tips

  • When you first hear the topic, smile.
  • Don’t start speaking as soon as you are called.
  • Decide immediately if you are for or against the topic.
  • Strong delivery and gestures can make a difference.
  • When your mind goes blank, smile—then repeat the topic or your last point.
  • Speak slowly, giving you more time to think.
  • Your response doesn’t have to be accurate or even truthful.
  • Look for a word in the question or topic. Relate this word to a book you read, a TV show, a movie, the daily news, your studies, you work, or your hobbies.
  • Expound about your having no idea how to answer the given question.

Impromptu Speech Outline

  • Introduction (Opening)
    • Restate the question or topic.
    • Give or make up a quote.
    • Use humor.
  • Body
    • Choose a pattern of development.
    • Use the power of three
  • Conclusion (Ending)
    • Restate the question or topic.
    • Restate the opening quote.
    • Repeat the same humor.
    • Don’t introduce new material.

You may also check a list of sample impromptu speech questions here. You may also read our Comprehensive Presentation (Nonverbals) Tips.