Ever look like the girl in this photo and have that surprised look?  Probably all too familiar if you find yourself being asked to speak on the spot or off the cuff…known as speaking impromptu.

Today I conducted a workshop for budding leaders and among the three skills  in which I was training my audience, was knowing how to speak impromptu.  Why?  Because it will happen to you eventually, irrespective of your industry.

While I offered an array of techniques as well as practice in impromptu speaking here are six points you may wish to consider:

  1.  Turn your impromptu speaking into a question and answer.
  2.  Storytelling, if done well, is effective and fits well with impromptu speaking.
  3.  You’re not expected to go on and on  or be longwinded .  In other words, less is more.  Focus on being succinct.
  4.  Anticipate potential impromptu scenarios which may arise (e.g. your supervisor is detained and asks you to fill in, a client asks you for an update, your opinion is sought).  Once you list a few potential impromptu speaking situations, practice them aloud.
  5.  Practice speaking about various topics such as: your company mission, your management style, your perspective on success.  Record yourself and listen closely to the playback.  Document what you did well and where you’d like to improve.
  6.  Never leave home without your “speaking insurance.”

Knowing how to speak impromptu is a communication skill that’s invaluable to have in your repertoire.  It’s best to not only consistently practice speaking impromptu but to also seek feedback from peers or colleagues.

It’s comforting to know that you don’t have to feel surprised when it’s your turn to speak impromptu.

Let me know if you’d like coaching on this essential communication skill.