Thursday, September 24, 2020

Speaking in Impromptu Settings

I've said at the World Speakers' Coalition Kuala Lumpur  it's a speaking club, if you don't already know  meeting yesterday that I hope to make some notes on the topics and techniques we'll be covering in our meetings. Therefore, let me share what I’ve learned so far on this subject of impromptu speaking. 
I must refer you to Matt Abrahams, author of “Speaking up without Freaking Out” – his pointers on speaking in impromptu settings are valid and for sure, helpful. 

It is pretty common for many of us to have anxieties when we are suddenly called upon to speak on the spur of the moment. Here are 3 reasons why speakers are less confident when we have to shoot from the hip: 

  • Our nerves get the better of us 
  • We’re in our own way 
  • We see the interaction as an obstacle to overcome 

So how can we speak more confidently? 

The reality is that spontaneous speaking requires us to think on our feet, quickly identifying both what you’re going to say and the best way to deliver the information. Fortunately, once we understand why impromptu speaking presents such a challenge, we can use cognitive reframing techniques to dish out comebacks that address the topic(s). 

Cognitive reframing is a method of changing the way in which we habitually evaluate and revert appropriately to situations. By altering the way we think about something – essentially reprogramming our brains to view challenging circumstances in a different way – we can shift our instinctual reactions and responses. 

Three specific approaches can help us confront the challenges identified earlier and become more confident impromptu speakers. 

  • Reframe the event as a conversation, rather than a performance. 
  • Instead of trying to wow the crowd, aim to accomplish only the task at hand. 
  • View the audience as a friend, not a foe. 

Time and time again, research has shown that effective communication skills are critical to success and satisfaction in our personal and professional lives. And since the vast majority of communication situations have some unpremediated elements to them, it is imperative that we become more confident, compelling and connected in these impromptu communication situations. 

For sure, it takes time and effort but, once you’ve mastered these techniques, you’ll be just as eloquent and engaging off-the-cuff as you are when you’ve spent days or weeks preparing those three-to-five-minute speeches.


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