Can impromptu speaking be practiced?

There’s a lot of articles teaching you how to practice public speaking. However, when it comes to impromptu speaking, the question is: Can it really be practiced?

Nailing an impromptu speech can do wonders for your confidence. Knowing that you are ready to speak at any given moment makes sure that you bid goodbye to that stage fright. These speaking practices will also boost you for your regular public speaking practices.

Once you know, you can speak on-demand, your public speeches should be a piece of cake. While that is true, impromptu speeches by nature are quite tough to practice.

After all, how do you prepare for an unknown topic? This is why we have put together not just effective impromptu speaking practices but also improvised speaking ideas. 

With our handy tips and enough practice, you will be setting the stage alive in no time!

Examples of Impromptu Speaking Scenarios

You might be wondering, what are some occasions where you can expect to speak unexpectedly.

While there are plenty of platforms like Toastmasters for impromptu speaking sessions, we have below a few everyday scenarios. Knowing these settings can help you prepare better mentally, as well. 

  • Introducing yourself at any networking events
  • Giving a toast at a party
  • Non-technical job interview questions
  • Interviews by reporters or journalists
  • Being called in to speak in a meeting
  • Filling in for another late or absent speaker
  • You get asked a question you did not prepare for a while on a panel
  • Defending your points in a debate
  • Any college presentations
  • Say a goodbye speech to a departing employee

What makes impromptu speaking so tricky?

By the nature of it, impromptu speaking is sudden and unprepared. As such, you are bound to feel nervous.

Even the best impromptu speakers have gone through this phase of self-doubt and reluctance.

You can thus take solace in the fact that anybody can master this art. It is not about talent but about the practice and the will to make it happen.

To conquer this fear, we must first understand it. Here are the most common reasons why impromptu speaking is so difficult.

Fear of criticism

We are our own worst critics. When we’re put on the spot all of a sudden, we are bound to question ourselves and worry about all the eyes being on us.

Every hesitation and pause becomes magnified. We want to be remembered for our best behavior, so naturally, we get nervous.

It is completely normal to stumble and hesitate. After all, you’ve been called upon unexpectedly!

Most people get on the stage reasonably confident, but one stumble can throw us off guard. Relax!

After all, we’re all only humans. Once we learn to shake away the fear of criticism, we will be able to own our imperfections as well.

Understanding this fear can help you accept yourself. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Know that this is how you will learn and master the art of impromptu speaking.

We all get nervous, and this nervousness will keep you trying and turn you into a great speaker.

Your mistakes will make you aware of your strengths and turn you into a better impromptu speaker.

Language Barrier

Many speakers did not have English as their native language. And even some who are native speakers but doubt their spoken English.

This can get in the way of your impromptu speech, as you might not feel as naturally comfortable to spontaneously speak up.

It is a common fear which does not make it any less valid. Good impromptu speaking comes with self-confidence.

However, the good thing is that there is a solution. Practice. As is showcased by many successful, non-native speakers, with enough practice, nothing is impossible.

Once you realize that you can master your command over this language as well as sprinkle in a personal touch to it, this language barrier can stop you no more.

Lack of Practice

Let’s face it. Most people don’t like being in unpredictable situations. Even though impromptu speeches are supposed to be unprepared by the name itself, any speaker will perform better with practice.

This does not have to mean you know the exact topic you will be speaking on, but some stage experience does help.

You need to familiarize yourself with the stage enough times that you are comfortable to speak.

Even if you fumble, you need to learn that it is part of the process. Therefore, there is no amount of speaking tips that can substitute a healthy amount of practice.

Stage Fright

Another element of impromptu speaking is a large audience. We are facing a sea of faces, most of which we are probably unfamiliar with. It is natural to worry about first impressions.

It is much easier to talk in front of co-workers or friends as they are more likely to forgive your small stumbles.

However, we usually do not get a say in who our audience will consist of. This is why it is good to get ample practice in front of crowds we are comfortable with before jumping right into a bigger stage. There is no shame in taking things step by step.

How to Practice Impromptu Speaking?

Now that we’ve understood the fears that stunt most speakers, we can move on to solutions.

We all know that practice is the key to success, but how you practice is also an essential facet of this process.

Rather than simply repeat the same ineffective methods, we will tell you how to get the most out of your practice.

Honesty is the best policy.

Speaking the truth is the easiest way to get your audience to connect with you. Audiences can detect a fake story and can quickly lose interest. 

When speaking unexpectedly, it’s better to stick to the truth. Delivering a heartfelt story will take a win over an exaggerated tale any day.

This does not mean you start recounting an honest account from a mundane day, either. The audience craves authentic emotion, but it has to come from an exciting event as well.

When you stick to the truth, you won’t have to scramble on the stage for ideas. You will simply be narrating and emoting, which makes your job much easier.

Have personal experiences handy

This tip falls in line with the previous tip about honesty. When you speak about personal experiences, there is no need to memorize things. Add to that. There is a personal touch to it that makes audiences more open to your story. 

Sharing from personal experiences makes you more at ease on the stage. It also adds a uniqueness to your story. People will feel as if they are tuning into a part of your life itself.

Instead of rambling about your opinions on nature and the environment, you can talk about a trip you took.

Perhaps share how much pollution you noticed and your reaction to it. Your genuine reaction will give this story the emotion it needs.

Head First

Sometimes the best way to face fears is head-on. You won’t know if you can speak on command unless you do.

This means that whenever you see an opportunity to speak up, don’t miss out on it! Whether it is a chance to introduce yourself in front of the class or give an impromptu report, jump in, and see how it does.

They say the first step is the hardest. All your nerves are about the beginning; once you jump in, the rest will follow.

This will also help you get comfortable with the idea of impromptu speaking itself.

Don’t stall too much trying to think of the perfect beginning. No one is expecting perfection. Simply go in head first and get rid of that fear.

No more stranger danger

Talking to strangers can be intimidating. Especially considering how we spend a large part of our young lives being told to avoid it.

But you must remember that a large part of the fear in impromptu speaking comes from being in front of an unfamiliar audience. You can master this fear by getting practice.

Whenever possible, reach out, introduce yourself to new people, mingle in conversations, and volunteer in any speaking situations.

It will be scary at first, and you might find yourself fumbling. Remember, it is natural to stumble right now, and the goal is not to stumble on stage later.

This doesn’t exactly fall under impromptu speaking. However, it works on your fears subconsciously.

Without being too aware of it, you’ll develop ease for talking to strange faces. This will also do wonders for your eye contact practice. You will learn how to keep a conversation going and build your own flow.

The format of a conversation can teach you a lot about impromptu speaking. You’ll use a more straightforward language and, most likely, shorter sentences.

You will also learn to read your audience. Does the person seem bored or interested? You can pick up on these cues. 

P is for Persistence

Do you know how people compare things to cycling or driving? Because it seemingly happens so automatically that it requires no thought.

But most people don’t remember how difficult the initial stages were. The reason it comes so easy to you now is that you did not give up. You practiced, you stayed persistent.

Impromptu speaking is no different. Of course, the topics and the setting will differ over time, but they definitely get better with practice.

This is just another skill that you need to master. To do so, make sure you take every opportunity to practice.

Try to speak on random subjects about the things around you, take some news headlines, and describe them. Set a timer and make sure you don’t let yourself get distracted too much. 

Stay vigilant and jog up some personal experiences that you might want to share. You might find that it is easier to remember these details on stage later when you need it.

The fun thing is that you don’t need to carve out an entire day to practice this. You can do it during breaks or with your morning coffee. The few minutes every day will add up to develop you as a successful impromptu speaker.

How can you practice impromptu speaking?

There are really only two ways to go about practicing impromptu speaking. It comes down to how social you are.

By yourself

You can choose to practice by yourself on your drive to work or before bed. This way is best if you’re just starting out and not confident enough to go in front of people yet.

There is no one to judge, and you can unapologetically be yourself. Speak out loud so that you can hear and assess yourself.

Once you get in the hang of doing this every day, you’re going to feel more confident in certain areas as well.

In front of people

You can practice by yourself initially, but there is no improvement without constructive criticism. You can choose to practice in front of your family or friends for starters.

Otherwise, there are many public speaking groups or classes that will be happy to provide you with feedback.

Speaking in front of others will open you up to areas you may not have paid much attention to and offer more room for overall growth.

Wrapping up,

Impromptu speaking is a difficult skill, but once you master it, you can leave audiences awestruck with your effortless style.

There are many ways to practice it, but to make the most of your practice, follow the steps we’ve outlined above.

The thing to remember is that there is no substitute for practice. So go out there and persevere! All the best!