Our Readers' Opinions
October 4, 2013

Can you speak spontaneously?

Fri Oct 9, 2013

Most of the speaking we do every day is spontaneous or impromptu speaking. Whether we are in informal discussion with colleagues, having a conversation with friends or reviewing the day’s events with our families, we frequently engage in unrehearsed, structured conversation on a wide variety of topics with very little difficulty.{{more}}

Ask us to speak spontaneously in a more formal setting, however, and many of us are scared speechless. Our minds go blank, we stare at our audience, fumble for words and finally respond in a muddled fashion. It is not that we do not know what to say, it is simply that the stress of having to speak off the cuff – not to mention the fact that everyone is looking at us! – seems to paralyse our very ability to think and to speak. Often, once we have completed our presentations and are no longer on centre stage, the many ways in which we could have responded differently come to mind.

Confident, structured responses to any given topic are possible, even when we are placed in unexpected speaking situations. When called upon, keep this formula in mind for successful impromptu speaking:

Listen: A good response requires an attentive attitude. Focus on what is being said so that you can give an on-target response.

Pause: Pausing before you begin to speak allows you to refresh your thoughts and formulate an answer. A silent pause is also more effective than using verbal place holders (hemming and hawing while you think about how to begin).

Confirm: Repeating the question or instruction out loud helps to focus your thoughts and tighten your speech. It also tells your audience that you have understood what you are to speak about and are on top of your game.

Tell: Be enthusiastic but stay focused and stick to the essentials. If you have been asked to speak off the cuff, you are probably not the featured speaker for the session.

End: Once you have said what you want to say, don’t belabour the point. Bring your comments to a close, emphasize your main point and smile. Make eye contact with your listeners.

Being called upon to speak off the cuff can be a nerve-wracking experience. But with enough practice, anyone can develop the ability to present ideas clearly and coherently in any impromptu speaking situation. Try the above tips and see how they work for you!

The Achievers Toastmasters Club meets every 1st and 3rd Saturday, at the Paradise Beach Hotel in Villa at 4:30 p.m. Join us this Saturday and experience how we make Public Speaking an easy feat to conquer. For more information please visit www.svgtoastmasters.com or find us on facebook at www.facebook.com/achieverstoastmasterssvg