How to Make an Impromptu Speech: 5 Strategies for Success

December 13, 2022

7 min read

Avoid impromptu speaking panic with these strategies.

“So, Justine. What’s the status of your project?” If your name is Justine, you might have just panicked a little bit. Certainly, you can identify. We’ve all been in situations — at a meeting or a social gathering — when all eyes turn to us. They expect us to say something.

Worry not! Public speaking coach Lisa Kleiman, the founder of Speaktopia, has five strategies you can use on Yoodli to improve your public speaking, especially impromptu speaking. Impromptu speaking is all about confidence, and you can build that confidence by practicing in Yoodli’s pressure-free environment.

You can’t possibly have a ready response in every situation, but you can have a ready structure to use in any scenario. Continue reading to learn how to make an impromptu speech with Kleiman’s winning strategies.

Strategy #1: The 5 Ws

Speaking with or to people is easier when you have some sort of connection — some knowledge about what you’re like, what you know, or what you care about. They’re more likely to listen to you if they feel a bond with you.

If you’re called on to speak with or to people you’ve just met, that connection isn’t there — yet. But, you can make that connection by using the 5 Ws strategy. It involves asking questions:

  • Who … ?
  • What … ?
  • Why … ?
  • Where … ?
  • When … ?

Here’s an example of how to make an impromptu speech using the 5 Ws strategy. Let’s say that you’re asked to lead a team discussion about the work-from-home policy — right now. You could try to articulate the policy and share how you think it’s working. You might assume that everyone already knows what it is and not state it. If you’re wrong in your assumption, some people will be confused. Is anyone still listening to you at this point?

Now let’s say that you know how to make an impromptu speech with the 5 Ws strategy. You start off by asking, “Who has clarity about what our current policy is?” The question engages your audience, getting them to think and respond. It also helps you know whether you need to review the policy. Then you ask, “What kind of feedback have you received about the policy?” Again, they’re thinking and responding. You’re getting information that helps you know which direction to take the discussion.

This strategy helps you establish a bond with your audience at the beginning because it instantly engages you in a conversation. This works even when you’re speaking in front of a large audience. Although it’s less of a dialogue, you can ask for a show of hands or use rhetorical questions to get them to listen and engage.

You can practice this impromptu speaking strategy with the “Record Speech” feature on the free Yoodli app. Click on “Not sure what to say? Try with a fun prompt.” See what W questions you can come up with!

Strategy #2: P.R.E.P.

Sometimes you’re prepared to speak, but you’re not ready for the curve balls that get thrown at you in the form of questions or remarks. Suddenly, your prepared speech turns into an impromptu speech. The P.R.E.P. strategy works for any kind of speech. Here’s how it works:

  • Point — Make a singular point.
  • Reasoning — Share the reasoning behind your point. This is the why to your what.
  • Evidence — Share a concrete example or two that supports your point and your reasoning.
  • Point — Circle back to your point and summarize it.

Here’s an example of how to make an impromptu speech using the P.R.E.P. strategy. You’re asked what you think should be added to the budget next quarter.

  • Point — “I think we should hire a part-time assistant for Charles.”
  • Reasoning — “I see Charles doing a lot of tasks that anyone can do, and he should be freed up to do what only he can do as the Development Director.”
  • Evidence — “I saw this dynamic at the last organization I worked for. When the director was released of administrative tasks, she was able to spend a lot more time meeting with potential donors, and contributions went up and eventually covered the cost of the assistant and more.”
  • Point — “A part-time assistant for Charles should be a budget priority for us if we want to see long-term growth in contributions.”

Strategy #3: S.E.E.

If you can appeal to someone’s logic or their emotions, you’re doing well. What if you could appeal to both? You’re likely to win them over to your idea. It’s great when you have a chance to prepare for a specific scenario, but sometimes you won’t get that chance. Still, you can be prepared with a strategy. The S.E.E. strategy is easy to remember and will help you appeal to your audience’s logic and emotions in impromptu situations.

Here’s what it stands for:

  • Statement — Make a simple statement.
  • Evidence — Provide evidence (facts) to support your statement and appeal to your audience’s reasoning.
  • Emotion — Provide something (perhaps a story about a person) to support your statement and appeal to your audience’s emotions.

Here’s an example of how to make an impromptu speech using the S.E.E. strategy. You’re asked whether you think the company should have a holiday party this year.

  • Statement — “We definitely should have a company holiday party.”
  • Evidence — “Our team surveys indicate that it’s a significant morale boost and a major team bonding experience, and research shows that morale and bonding directly impact productivity.”
  • Emotion — “You know Derrick? He used to show up at 9:00 every day, leave at 5:00, and barely talk to anyone in between. At last year’s party, he really came out of his shell when we brought out the karaoke machine. Now he’s taking on leadership roles with a confidence he (and we) never knew he had!”

You can practice this strategy with Yoodli’s free Interview Practice tool. Pick a question such as “Describe your leadership style” or any others that catch your eye.

Strategy #4: The 3 Ts

You’re probably familiar with the Introduction/Body/Conclusion communication structure. That’s essentially what the 3 Ts strategy is.

Here’s how it works:

  • Tell them what you’re going to tell them. This buys you time and allows you to clarify what question your answering.
  • Tell them. This is the meat of your response. After your introduction, you can go into detail.
  • Tell them what you told them. This is a summary and a chance to give them a takeaway or a call to action.

Here’s an example of how to make an impromptu speech using the 3 Ts strategy. Let’s say that you’re asked to give a brief update on your project.

  • Tell them what you’re going to tell them. “Sure, I’d be happy to give a quick progress report on my video project.”
  • Tell them. “I’ve captured the raw footage, and I’m now in the editing process. I expect that to take a couple more days, and then I’ll get some feedback on it before finalizing it.”
  • Tell them what you told them. “I’m on track with the video project, and your feedback will be helpful in a couple of days, so I’ll reach out then.”

Strategy #5: C.A.R.

Sometimes you’re asked on the spur of the moment to address a problem. The C.A.R. strategy for impromptu speaking is a great way to handle this. It lets you demonstrate that you have a good grasp of the problem and that your solution is worth exploring. Here’s how it works:

  • Challenge — State the problem.
  • Action — Offer a solution.
  • Result — Cast a vision for the post-problem future.

Here’s an example of how to make an impromptu speech using the C.A.R. strategy. Your teammate comes to you, clearly anxious, and says that your team project is due tomorrow and it’s not on track to be completed.

  • Challenge — “So, the project is due at tomorrow’s 3:00 meeting, and we still need to gather the sales data and get it into the presentation.”
  • Action — “I can put my current task on hold and get the first quarter data, and I’ll ask Cate to get second quarter. If you’re comfortable prepping the template from the last presentation and plugging in the data we give you, that should be all we need.”
  • Result — “The boss is going to love the presentation, and we’ll breathe easy when it’s done!”

Practice These Strategies

Now that you know how to make an impromptu speech with Kleiman’s five strategies,

it’s time to practice each one with your own AI speech coach at Yoodli. It will help you improve your speaking skills and overcome anxiety about being called on to speak.

If you’re feeling a little competitive, you can try one of the Yoodli impromptu speaking warmup exercises to beat your own high score. Get a daily streak of five, and you’ll see noticeable improvement.

If you haven’t done so already, sign up for free and take advantage of the practical tools and fun games. Yoodli’s AI analytics can train you to take whatever comes at you and respond with confidence and clarity.


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