Some guidelines for impromptu speaking from Toastmasters International

Here are some techniques to help you think clearly and effectively on your  feet.

             1. Define the purpose and objectives of your speech.

                    * Stop, stay calm and cool in order to formulate your talk.
                    * Get your goal clearly in focus by defining your     purpose
                    or viewpoint.
                    * Decide your starting and finishing points.
                    * State the reason why you are speaking on the subject.
                    * Open strongly

                      - "I believe that ....... the reason being....."
                      - "My experience shows ...... because ........."

                    * Remember if you don't know where you are going, any road
                    will get you there!

             2. Choose a Specific Illustration, Experience or Example.

                    * Speaking about personal experiences will give you courage
                    and confidence.
                    * Helps you to be clear, convincing and believable.
                    * Just tell about a specific event, example or experience

                      - when it happened.
                      - why it happened
                      - where it happened
                      - what caused it to happen
                      - who was involved
                      - how it happened

             3. Conclude:

                    * Summarise by stating or restating

                      - your overall speech purpose
                      - main point or beliefs.

                    * Close strongly


             4.Other Points

                    * Don't try to cover too much

                      - Be short, succinct and to the point. The audience will
                      love you!

                    * Never apologise


             There will be times when you need to stand and answer a question or talk on a
             subject such as in our Table Topics session or when you are in a meeting and
             have to report on a subject or give an opinion. It is in situations such as these
             where no time is given for preparation that the following is a helpful
             framework which you can use to think quickly and organise your thoughts.

                                    Think of the "PREP" system.

                    * P >Point

                      - "The point I want to make is .........."

                    * R >Reason

                      -"The reason I say this is ............"

                    * E >Example

                      - "For example ............"
                      - "My experience ..........."

                    * P >Point

                      - "In summary my point is ......."

Rules for Impromptu Speaking  (Wisconsin Forensic Coaches' Association)

Purpose of the Category:
To develop the skills necessary to quickly provide a responsive statement to a variety of everyday words, phrases and topics.

Definition of the Category:
The impromptu speaker should deliver an original, creative and imaginative interpretation of the designated topic, supported by varied materials. An impromptu speech should reveal the student's ability to organize thoughts quickly and logically. The contestant should be held accountable for strict adherence to the topic drawn and discounted severely for shifting to some other topic of personal preference. The information presented should be well-chosen, pertinent, and sufficient to support the central thought of the topic. The material should be organized according to some logical plan to produce a complete speech with the time allowed. Delivery should be free from marked defects in speech mechanics -- poise, quality and use of voice, enunciation, fluency, bodily expressiveness -- and should be effective in enlisting and holding the audience's attention. The best impromptu speech combines clear thinking, good speaking and interesting presentation with respect to the topic chosen. Impromptu topics will be chosen form proverbs, objects, abstract words, events, quotations, and famous people.


1. The speech must be original to the student and must be developed during the round. No pre-written or memorized speeches are allowed.

2. Once in the contest room, the student will be given a choice of three topics designated for that section by the judge in that room. The student will then be given a total of 6 minutes in which to prepare and speak. How the time is divided is totally up to the student but is subject to critique by the judge.

3. Auxiliary visual materials are not permitted.

4. No student may enter the contest room until his/her designated speaking time as determined by the speaking order scheduled for that room. The student will wait outside the room until the previous speaker leaves. Then, the student will enter and announce his/her code to the judge.

5. Maximum time limit: 6 minutes. There is no minimum time requirement. A contestant should not be penalized for brevity unless she/he fails to cover the subject adequately. A 30-second grace period is allowed. Any entry exceeding the grace period may not be ranked first in the round.
If all entries in a round exceed the grace period, there shall be no first rank given in that round.

6. The use of notes is optional, but limited to both sides of a 4 x 6 card.

7. Vocal music, if used, must be incidental and consist of no more than 30 seconds total. Any entry exceeding this limit may not be ranked first in the round. If all entries in a round exceed the music time limit, there shall be no first rank given in that round.

Criteria for Evaluation:

1. The extent to which a direct and well-defined response to the topic chosen was provided.

2. The extent to which the ideas were analyzed and organized.

3. The extent to which the content (a) supported the response with worthwhile example, data, and personal insight; and (b) employed effective language skills including such items as the use of transitions and clear, vivid and appropriate word choices. Individual judges may lower the rank due to use of profanity or vulgarity.

4. The extent to which vocal interpretation contributed to the clarity and effectiveness of the presentation including such items as articulation, pronunciation, volume, rate, pitch, and vocal quality.

5. The extent to which the physical presence contributed to the clarity and effectiveness of the presentation, including such items as facial expression, eye contact, gestures, bodily movement, and poise.


     A good parent...
     A law should be made that...
     Courage is...
     Freedom is like the ocean because...
     If I could only accomplish one thing in my life, I would like to...
     If I wanted to impress someone, I'd tell them about my...
     If I'd known my parents when they were teenagers...
     Little Red Riding Hood should have...
     Loyalty should be given to...
     Other cultures...
     Professional athletes' salaries...
     Teenagers would be better off...
     The one world event I remember most about this year is...
     You can make a child feel special by...
     If I could be president for a day, I'd...
     Of the five senses, my favorite is...
     If I played a role in a TV show, I'd play...
     If I taught junior high school, I'd...
     If I were an author, I would write about...
     If I were the leader of a new settlement on the frontier, I'd...
     If I were the opposite sex, I'd...
     If I wrote a personal mission statement, it would say...
     To get respect...
     It's OK to rebel when...
     People often stereotype...
     The strength of America lies in...
     To me, success in life means...
     Why people are afraid to fail...
     Teenagers smoke because...


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