August 20, 2010
Impromptu speaking is one of the best ways to practice thinking on your feet (refer to Part 1 of this post). There are good ways to go about prepping a speech in a limited time, and then there are bad ways. I hope to detail some of the more effective ways in this post.
Using your Prep Time Wisely
Time is your most scarce resource when it comes to impromptu speaking, but more specifically the time you spend preparing seems like it’s over before you even start thinking. Here’s a step by step of about how much time you should try to spend on each area, given that you’re provided two minutes to prepare:>/p>
0:00 - Draw your topics.
0:00 - 0:10 - Choose the topic you wish to speak on. Don’t waste time here, it will do you no good. Quickly pick the topic you have the most knowledge about or one that seems interesting to speak on.
0:10 - 1:00 - Build your basic framework. By the end of your first minute you should have a working outline of your speech, on a base level. You should have your introduction, main points, and conclusion brainstormed. If you’re using notes, they should each be labeled with 1-5 words. The shorter hand you can manage, the better. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean all the details should be filled in yet, that comes next.
1:00 - 1:30 - Fill the speech with meat. You should look to support each point with some rhetoric. This could include a personal story, example (literary, film, music, historical, etc.), analogy, or basic logic. Look to have one or two solid forms of support for each point. Don’t overload yourself.
1:30 - 1:50 - Wire everything up. Run through everything you’ve brainstormed so far and think about simple transitions and what you will actually say for five minutes. At this point you should start to feel like you have a finished product that you’re excited about presenting.
1:50 - 2:00 - Focus on your introduction and how you’ll start your speech. Repositioning your mind to the beginning of your speech will prepare you to actually start speaking, and to begin confidently.
2:00 - Ready, set, go!
After you give your speech, document your outline and all the examples you use. Begin to build a list of these things so that you can study them and be more prepared each and every time you give a speech.
Practicing in this way will enhance your overall critical thinking skills that take place on a public platform. Whether it’s on the platform at a conference or in a sales meeting with a potential client. It might be a scary way to test yourself, but nothing is scarier than feeling and looking unprepared in a real situation where you need these skills.