How to Handle Pressure in an Impromptu Speech: Preparation is the Key! (Part 2)
You already learned specific gestures that can ensure your delivery is smooth even when you’re under pressure. Now, let’s look at two more techniques that can help your delivery under pressure: stage movements, and pacing.
The second technique: using stage movements to present your main points. It’s like being on a boat. Move or rock too hard, and you’ll get your audience seasick. Don’t move at all, and you’ll be stuck at sea. To avoid this, plan out your movement. For impromptu, you want to start at center stage, then move to the right side for your first story, walk to the left side past the center stage for your second story, walk back to the center for your third story, and then take one step forwards for your conclusion.
This transitional movement symbolizes a change in the content of the speech and gives the audience time to process what has already been shared. It can be quite useful because you not only engage with the audience by physically moving closer to them for parts of your speech, but you’re also helping them see that their attention is needed for the new point you’re raising.
And the final technique, slow down your speech and add pauses. When transitioning between different ideas, examples, or before you share your conclusion, you want to take short breaks so that you let your audience process what you have shared. The golden rule to remember here is speak slower, than you think you should. Sometimes when you’re nervous or when you’re packed with ideas in your mind, there’s a tendency to rush. This is problematic for three reasons:
· One: your speech will not be as clear and understandable for the judge as it should be;
· Two: the audience will have a harder time forming an emotional bond with you;
· And three: you might stumble over your words.
Thus, it’s important to find a pace that doesn’t rush through our ideas. A slower pace will also give you more time to think while you are giving your speech, so you’ll be better at organizing your ideas as you share them on the spot. It’ll also help you be less hesitant, use fewer filler words, and be less likely to forget what you were going to say.
We want to leave you with a final note. Do not hold yourself to a standard of perfection for impromptu. This will allow you to overcome small mistakes. After all your judge is not focused on a flawless delivery but rather, on a smooth and confident one.
Impromptu speaking is not rocket science, but sometimes it can feel like a rocket launch. All of the pressures you may be feeling with this event are normal: when the judges are judging, the audience is staring, and of course, the time is ticking. However, just like any public speaking event, you can, and should, practice. Although you don’t know your topic until just minutes before your speech, by practicing your delivery – using a slower pace and pauses, purposeful hand gestures, as well as stage movements – you’ll be able to deliver confidently under pressure, just like a highly-trained astronaut.