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How to Give an Extemporaneous Speech


An extemporaneous speech is created quickly, sometimes with just a few days’ or hours’ notice, and is given without a script or memorization. A good extemporaneous speech sounds natural and unforced but is in fact well organized. Your speech should have three parts: an introduction, a body and a conclusion.

Think your topic through as soon as you learn what the expected topic of the speech will be. Focus on a few possible main points to address in your speech. Write them down.

Consider ways to command your audience’s attention in the introduction of your speech. This may be a quote, a joke, a rhetorical question or a surprising statement.

Plan the body of your speech. This portion will include your main points. Narrow your main points down to about three. With too many main topics, you and your audience may lose the train of thought.

Think about the conclusion of your speech. Plan to summarize your points briefly so that your audience retains the key points. Conclude with a solid, definitive statement.

Research your topic as necessary to fill in your rough outline. Focus only on your intended topics and write down the key facts and points you want to make.

Write or type important facts and standout phrases on note cards. Don’t write down every word you plan to say, just the major items. These will guide you as you speak and will jog your memory if necessary.

Practice your speech if you have time to do so. Practicing will make you more comfortable with the timing and flow of your words. Time yourself with a stopwatch or timer to make sure that your speech won’t be too long or too short for the program or agenda.

Before your speech begins, breathe deeply and relax your body. Smile and gesture naturally. If you lose your train of thought while speaking, take a deep breath and glance at your notes to get back on track.

References
  • “The Challenge of Effective Speaking”; Rudolph F. Verderber, et al.; 2007
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