Public Speaking – Tips For Speaking Off the Cuff


If you have ever given a presentation at work or had to give an impromptu eulogy at a memorial service, you know how nerve-wrecking it can be. Butterflies in your stomach? No, they’re more like torpedoes bombing your gut! A little nervousness is normal. It shows that you care and are excited about the opportunity you’ve been given to speak. Having nervousness overcome your ability to function in front of an job interview panel can be detrimental.

In a Toastmasters club, members practice impromptu speaking as a way of learning to respond effectively on a moment’s notice. Table topics help people learn to reply intelligently on a topic with which they may not be familiar. This practice comes in handy when your boss wants a word with you, or when you are dealing with customers or giving a toast at a friend’s wedding. Here are a few suggestion about how to rehearse for successful impromptu speaking. For this exercise you will need:

* A timer, stopwatch or clock with a second hand sweep.

* A friend – If you don’t have anyone to practice with, you’ll have to watch the timer yourself. * A topic – I’ll supply three topics:

1. Parents have a way of making up stories to protect the young minds of their children. Please share the biggest story your mom or dad ever told you.

2. You are a vacuum cleaner. Tell us about your recent episode in a teenager’s room.

3. Please give your advice on how to deal with rush-hour traffic.

Take each topic listed above one at a time. Have your friend read one topic aloud then set the timer for two minutes. Your friend will give you a silent signal when you’ve reached one minute and again when you have reached two minutes. Try to keep speaking until you get the one minute signal. Then, wrap up when you get the two minute signal. Compose your thoughts as quickly as possible and begin addressing the topic. Give a simple opening statement. You may repeat the topic question as your opening. Then, give your opinion about the topic by answering the questions to the best of your ability. Give a conclusion or summary of what you just said.

The best way to practice this exercise and get the experience you need is in the safe and supportive environment of a Toastmasters club meeting. Toastmasters provides leadership training and self-development. Experience that builds confidence is the key to effective speaking. Find a club in your area at

Yvonne Perry is a freelance writer and the owner of Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services (WITS). She and her team of ghostwriters are ready to assist you with writing and editing for books, eBooks, Web text, business documents, resumes, bios, articles, and media releases. For more information about writing, networking, publishing, and book promotion, or to sign up for free email delivery of WITS newsletter, please visit New subscribers receive a free eBook Tips for Freelance Writing.

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