Impress with your impromptu speech

During the festive season there were probably lots of opportunities to give impromptu speeches and make your presence felt; whether it’s a work function or social/family occasion. Did you take the opportunity? Making a presentation is one of the best ways to increase your visibility – so get the right techniques in place to give you confidence.

I use a very simple format that works for me. It’s never changed over the 27 years I’ve been using it – for a couple of reasons: firstly,If it ain’t broke don’t fix it and secondly, I haven’t got time to reinvent the wheel every time a presentation lands in my lap and I suspect – neither have you. Those of you who have worked with me over the 27 years will know that I talk about ‘3 golden words’ that I use to keep any presentation on track. I use this format for formal presentations, in meetings, telephone calls and certainly to get me through the last minute stress of impromptu speaking. The ‘3 golden words’ are: introduction, development and conclusion. Such a simple concept but so many of us forget them in the last minute panic of impromptu speaking. So how does it work?

Let’s say one of your colleagues is leaving and you’re all having a drink to say goodbye to them and suddenly you’re prodded in the ribs to say something appropriate. Don’t panic – remember the ’3 Golden words’.


Start with some strong opening words. Don’t ramble into it/ apologise/say er/um/ok/alright then – as so many people do!
For example: Don’t say: ‘Well I don’t know why I have been chosen to speak on behalf of the group but here goes . . . ‘
But rather start with a question, statement of fact, story, quotation, challenge.
For example: ‘How are we going to ever meet deadlines again without Denise to cajole us all?’


In the development section a very easy fail safe structure for an impromptu speech is: Past/Present/Future. Nearly every topic I’ve given people to speak on in my seminars over the years divides beautifully in these 3 sections – try it out on these topics: Christmas/Parties/Stress/Holidays/Work/Retirement/Wine
For example:
Past: Talk about what life was like in the office before Denise arrived
Present: Talk about how the office is at the moment – how great she is, how’s she’s changed systems etc
Future: Talk about how the office will try to cope without her (and wish her luck for the future)


Finish with some strong closing words. Instead of trying to find new words to close, I often finish with the words I started with – it’s easier:
So don’t finish by saying: ‘Well, that’s about it then’ but rather:
‘So without Denise to cajole and encourage us, meeting deadlines is never going to be the same again.’

Using this simple format will help you to sound confident, powerful and professional every time you make a speech/presentation/pitch. We know that making presentations is one of the best ways to increase your visibility in the workplace and in the wider world in general. It’s all about having techniques to pull you through these speaking opportunities. So there’s no need to panic – remember the ‘3 Golden Words’ and make your presence felt.

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