The Art of Impromptu Speaking: How to Maximize Your Seven-Minute Speech (Part 1)

Coach Mike
Post by Coach Mike
The Art of Impromptu Speaking: How to Maximize Your Seven-Minute Speech (Part 1)

In seven minutes, you can: · Listen to the “Peanut, Butter, Jelly” song four times.

· Run a mile.

· Say the word “pancake” 910 times.

· Fall asleep.

· Wait to get a spot on the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel ride at Disney World.

These options might seem tempting, but today we will focus on a seven minutes activity which can be even more delightful and inspiring, for you and for your audience. In this article, you’ll learn about the art of impromptu speaking.

Impromptu speaking is a public speaking format in which you have seven minutes to prepare and perform a speech that will touch the hearts and minds of your audience, by introducing to them your unique perspective on a given topic. The topics for impromptu speaking range from nursery rhymes, lines from songs or books, famous quotes, proverbs, and more. Unlike other public speaking or debate formats, in impromptu speaking, you have seven minutes for... well, for everything! In seven minutes, you need to select a topic, brainstorm ideas, draft an outline for your speech, and perform it. Note that even though you can write some notes as you prepare, your speech should be performed without relying on them.

Impromptu speeches can be lighthearted or serious, and they are evaluated on three criteria:

· Organization, which is whether the speech has a clear structure

· Analysis, which is whether you address the prompt and justify your ideas well and

· Delivery, which is your use of vocal variation, body language, and confidence

So how does an impromptu round run? It’s actually quite exciting! Speakers wait outside of their room and walk-in one by one in seven-minute intervals. When you walk into the room, you’ll receive an envelope, like at the Oscars or the Golden Globes award ceremonies. But unlike in the Oscars or the Golden Globes, in your envelope, you’ll have more than one possibility. You’ll find three prompts, in other words, topics, within the envelope, usually with a connecting theme, and you’ll choose one to use for your speech.

What are prompts? Well, they can be just about anything. Here are some examples:

Should states shut their borders during a national pandemic?

· Real learning happens outside the classroom.

· It is not our differences that divide us, it is our inability to accept and celebrate those differences.

· “Life is like a box of chocolates.”

· The word “hopefully”

· Discipline is not a dirty word.

· “To err is human, to forgive is divine.”

· If I could spend 10 minutes with the president I would…

Once you have selected the prompt, you will have seven minutes to prepare a speech and perform it. Usually, you can allocate this time as you see fit, but at higher-level competitions, the time is usually divided as two minutes for prep and five minutes for speaking.

You’ve probably noticed that the prompts are quite varied, and you might be wondering, “How do I choose?” Excellent question! When selecting a prompt, you want to go for the one that you are most familiar with. Maybe it’s a topic you read a lot about, maybe it’s a quote that resonates, or maybe there are anecdotes or examples in your mind. It can even be a prompt that you have a personal experience with. There are also a few tips for ways to gain experience with a variety of prompts. You can read famous novels, poems, and fairy tales. Additionally, you can read articles or listen to podcasts that cover interesting facts on different topics ranging from history, pop culture, sociology to sports, and philosophy. Being able to immediately come up with multiple examples will save you valuable time when choosing a prompt and preparing for your speech. The best impromptu speakers create story “banks” in their minds which they can easily refer to in an impromptu speech.

Now that you’ve learned the format of an impromptu speaking round, seen some examples of prompts and then how to choose one, in part two of this article, you’ll learn about some examples you could have in your story bank.

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Coach Mike
Post by Coach Mike