At a recent meeting, Beverly Hepting gave a fantastic educational speech on Impromptu Speaking for Table Topics.

How many of us ‘dread’ Table Topics? Yet we speak off-the-cuff every day. We don’t plan and prepare our response in normal conversations or to questions in meetings. Maybe we need to change our thinking about the word ‘impromptu’. Actually Table Topics is right, as it is what we would normally talk about round the table with friends. Table Topic Masters can do more in their introductions to emphasise this and set a positive attitude. The right choice of subject can also help.

Here are the ten tips we learnt from Beverly.

  1. Take Your Time to Get to the Stage

You don’t have to rush up there. Give yourself thinking time. When you get on stage, you don’t have to start straight away. Take time to get grounded and not panic.

2. Think about the End

Start with the end in sight. It is a bit like going on a journey, you need to know your destination. If you know how you want to end your speech, you can then quickly plan your route to getting there.

3. Structure it

As with any speech, it should have a start, middle and end. If you know the end, you can build a strong start and fill the middle.

4. Remember to K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple and Straightforward

The danger is we are likely to try and over complicate things. Keep it simple. Just have one or two points that you want to cover. You only have two minutes after all.

5. Buy Time to Think

There are several tricks you can use to buy yourself time to think. A common one is to repeat the question. You can use a short quip or change the subject.

6. Pause and Stage

Using pauses is a great way to gather your thoughts, calm your nerves and add impact. It is also a chance to breathe! Using the stage to good effect can add interest to your speech and use up time.

7. Slow Down

When adrenaline is running, the danger is we speak much quicker. Try and pace yourself and slow down. Less is more.

8. Be in Control

Don’t let panic take over your mind. Stay in control of your thinking and go with the first idea that comes into your head and build on it. The less you panic, the more your creativity can work.

9. Keep It Going but Know When to Stop

Once you get started, keep going. Let your mind freewheel. Focus on what you want to say and not the lights. You don’t have to speak until the red light comes on. If you’ve finished – finish!

10. Have a Conclusion

Here we come full circle to having an end in sight. End with a bang and not a whimper! Have a strong ending which concludes your speech.

I give my sincere thanks to Beverly for these tips. It’s now about putting it into practice. I saw people do that immediately after her speech and it worked.



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