Learn Impromptu Speaking: Top 3 Strategies To Constantly Remind Your Audience of Your Prompts

Coach Mike
Post by Coach Mike
Learn Impromptu Speaking: Top 3 Strategies To Constantly Remind Your Audience of Your Prompts

Do you ever get notifications on your phone that never seem to stop? They can be incredibly obnoxious. You feel your phone vibrate and get excited, thinking it’s a message from your friend, only to check and see it’s an alert that trying to get you to buy some useless product or remind you to do some unnecessary task. As annoying as these kinds of alerts are, they work because of repetition. And that’s similar to what you want to do in an impromptu speech!

Throughout the five minutes of your speech, you should aim to gently remind your audience of your prompt three to four times.

In this article, you’ll learn three strategies to connect the prompt to your stories for a focused and cohesive speech. You want to remind your audience and judge what your prompt is, so that you can bring the focus back to the main idea and avoid their thoughts wandering off to another topic after hearing one of your stories. Furthermore, sentence prompts like quotes and proverbs can be difficult to remember. And in impromptu events, you don’t have the advantage of any visual aids, so you can’t have your quote or proverb on a PowerPoint slide. Instead, it’s your job to constantly remind the listeners of your prompt as well as your thesis throughout your five-minute speech.

First, use exact words from the prompt to create a claim for your story. While it’s not necessary to have a clear claim in your main points for impromptu speeches, it can strengthen the relationship between your stories and prompt. The claim would go at the beginning of each main point. If your proverb was “Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone,” you might have a thesis that says, “It’s easier to share good news than bad.” In this case, you could take the words “laugh” and “weep” from the prompt and incorporate them into your claim and story introduction like this:

"People prefer more laughs than weeps in their lives. We see this oh so clearly with Lydia Bennett from Jane Austen’s novel, “Pride and Prejudice.” As the youngest of five sisters, Lydia spent her days searching only for entertainment."

Second, show how the actions or behaviors in your story match those in the prompt. Most, if not all, of your stories should involve people, places, or objects. It’s important for you to determine if the prompt reveals any sort of behaviors that people have. For instance, suppose your prompt is the quote from Josh Bowman: “March on. Don't look through the rearview [mirror], just through the windshield.” This quote is giving clear behaviors that people should follow. Here, “march on” means to continue forward in life. It’s usually said after people encounter challenges as a way to encourage them to keep going rather than getting stuck on the problem. The second part of the quote explains to not look back, only forwards, meaning we should focus on the future, not the past.

After you’ve identified the behavior in the prompt, make sure that your story describes a behavior that is similar to this. For instance, your story could be about Netflix and how the business’s forward-thinking strategies have led to its huge success. As much as possible, refer back to the exact wording of the prompt when you’re making this connection. For instance, you could say:

"Founded in 1997 back when DVD were still a thing, Netflix was a small subscription-based service that rented DVDs online to be mailed out. At the time, Blockbuster was the mainstream rental store. So, Netflix’s CEO reached out to form a partnership, only to be laughed out the door. But still, Netflix marched on. As technology advanced, their online presence grew, adding a streaming service that now has over 150 million subscribers in over 190 countries. By only looking forwards through their window shield and not back through the rearview mirror, Netflix is now seen as one of the most forward-thinking business of our time."

Third, use the prompt as support for your story’s impact. Some prompts already provide you with the effects of what might happen in the story. This makes it great to use in the conclusion of your story as a summary of the impact. For example, let’s say you select the proverb “In like a lion, out like a lamb” as your prompt. You develop the following thesis: “Bravery is always an illusion.” You decide that one of your stories will be about Dudley Dursley, the cousin of Harry Potter. You might use your prompt as a transition in this way:

"Some people deserve little sympathy, and such was the case with Dudley Dursley, a boy who grew up bullying his cousin Harry daily. Why? Because Dudley was not only physically bigger than Harry, but he also had the backing of his parents who spoiled him rotten. So, when Harry’s life finally started looking up, and he was able to use magic to scare off his cousin, we see Dudley as a coward, marching in like a lion, and out like a lamb."

Notice that by using the prompt at the end, you’re able to wrap up the story with the negative impact of what happens when the illusion of bravery fades. People like Dudley are left looking weak, like lambs.

And there we have it! Let’s recap the three strategies:

1) Use exact words from the prompt to create a claim for your story;

2) Show how the actions or behaviors in your story match those in the prompt;

3) Use the prompt as support for your story’s impact.

Using these strategies to relate your story’s claim, actions, and impacts to the prompt, you’ll be driving home the main point to your judge and audience, in a similar (but less annoying) way to those notifications on your phone. Speaking of which – wow! – there’s a great deal on toilet paper!

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Coach Mike
Post by Coach Mike