Strategies for the First Speech and Impromptu Speeches
Strategies for First Speech
Whether in a speech class, another class, or a social context, an individual's first speaking experience can be unsettling. Avoid the jitters by following some of the strategies outlined below. This section covers pre-speech strategies and presentation tips (K. Buchanan, A. Mueser, CAL).
Consider time limits imposed for the speech. Instructors do deduct points for falling short or exceeding time limits. In professional meetings, time limits are usually adhered to strictly. In less formal contexts it is common courtesy to speak only for the allotted time. Therefore, when preparing a speech it is important to aim for a time limit.
Organize the information according to acceptable speech models. Like research papers, most speeches are divided into three parts: introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction should include an attention-getter, thesis, and preview. Information in the body may be arranged chronologically, spatially, topically, by cause-effect, by problem-solution, or by using Monroe's motivated sequence. Conclusions usually include a summary and final statement. Use transitions between each part.
Consider the Audience
The information presented in the speech should be tailored to the audience. Consider the purpose of the speech with respect to the characteristics of the audience. Audience analysis entails demographic analysis (age, educational background, gender, ethnic background, income, etc.) as well as consideration of audience beliefs, attitudes, reference points, and opinions.
Use Visual Aids and Supporting Materials
All visual aids should be large, clear, colored, and relevant. Don't put too much information on any one visual aid. Supporting materials, such as statistics, testimony, and examples, add credibility and maintain interest. When using supporting materials, always cite the original source of the information.
If permitted, prepare notecards to serve as cues during the speech. Print the information clearly and legibly. Don't put too much information on one card or you may find yourself fumbling to find your place on the card. Avoid full sentences, except for quotes or other supporting material. Number the cards to keep them in proper order.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Rehearse the speech using notecards (if permitted) over and over again. Work with another student and provide feedback to each other. Practicing in front of a mirror is a good way to see how you deliver the presentation. Use a video or tape recorder to practice the speech. Be your own critic. If visual aids will be used during the speech, be sure to practice with the equipment. Practicing builds confidence, improves delivery, and helps one avoid reading the speech.
The "Up" Rule
Stand up, speak up, and when you are done, "shut up!" Because body language is very important in establishing credibility, good posture is a must. Be sure to speak loudly, slowly, and clearly.
Scan the room while presenting the speech. Do not focus on the instructor, judge, or a single student. Maintain eye contact except to glance at your notecards.
Make use of nonverbal language and gestures during the speech. They are effective in communicating attitudes and emotions.
It is usually inappropriate to say "thank you" at the end of a speech.
Introductory as well as advanced communication courses often require that students perform impromptu speeches. One way to prepare for impromptu is to make up topics and practice ahead of time. Practicing impromptu is most effective when students work in pairs or small groups, although it is possible for students to use the strategy on their own (D. Applegate, CAL).
Steps for Practicing Impromptu Speeches
Find out the requirements for the impromptu speech. How much time will be permitted for preparing the speech? How long must the speech be? Are notecards or outlines allowed? Is a certain format (e.g. motivated sequence, chronological, spatial, etc.) required?
Select a Topic
Make up a topic for the practice speech, or have another student give you a topic. Sample topic ideas are given in a table after this list. You also need to consider the type of speech to be given (e.g. persuasive, entertainment, informative, etc.) and the audience.
Prepare the Speech
In the allotted time, prepare the speech. Use a stop watch or clock to keep track of the time. Write the speech in outline form or on notecards. Suggestions for preparing the speech are:
Begin with the body of the speech.
Try to use at least three main ideas in the body.
Write the introduction and conclusion after writing the body.
Be sure to include all necessary parts of the speech. The parts will depend on the organizational format used. For instance, general speeches usually have four parts: attention, thesis, main body, and summary/conclusion. Use the mnemonic ATM'S to insure you have all four parts.
Don't write in complete sentences as it takes too much time. Use key words and short phrases instead.
If note cards or outlines are not permitted while giving the speech, leave a minute of preparation time for reviewing the speech. Focus on key words that will be easy to remember. Use mnemonics, visual association, or another memory strategy if needed.
Give the Speech
Give the speech in the allotted time. Use a stop watch or clock to keep track of the time. If working alone, do the speech in front of a mirror to get feedback on presentation style, eye contact, and gestures. You may want to record the speech and listen to the audio tape later to get feedback on tone of voice, grammar, and speed. If working with another student(s), ask them to provide feedback on these things as well as speech content and organization. Remember, criticisms should be constructive!
Repeat the Process
Pick another topic and repeat the process. The more practice you get writing and giving impromptu speeches, the less nervous you will be and the better you'll do. If working with another student, take turns presenting and critiquing the speeches. Chances are you will learn a great deal by watching and hearing others' speeches as well as by doing your own.
SAMPLE TOPICS FOR INFORMATIVE IMPROMPTU
SAMPLE TOPICS FOR PERSUASIVE IMPROMPTU