It can be very daunting to be asked to “say a few words” at a party, dinner or special event – especially if you not given any advance notice. In many ways though, the duty or social speech differs substantially from a business presentation or speech and is much less complex. Often, the subject matter is one person or a group of people or it may be the event itself that is being celebrated.
Follow our Top Ten tips and you will be able to rise to the challenge of impromptu speaking
- Take heart: you will usually have the full attention of the listeners without having to fight for it.
- Keep it simple and adopt the principle “tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you have told them”.
- Match your tone to the occasion: e.g. should you be serious or more light-hearted? Take your lead from the mood of the event.
- Introduce your topic and say a few explanatory words:e.g. “I am here today to tell you what a great year we have had in the company, where sales have increased despite the many obstacles we faced.”
- Create a “hook”: tell your listeners why this topic is important or relevant for them.
- Break content into three parts: no matter what the topic, restrict yourself to a list of three easy to find points.
- Use linking words and expression to create a natural flow e.g. the first thing I want to tell you, the second thing…”
- Elaborate on the basic points with examples or short anecdotes or brief stories for illustration.
- Remember to thank anyone who deserves recognition and encourage applause for them.
- Conclude with a short summary and invite your listeners to join you in raising a glass.
The Training Box recommends …
“Lend Me Your Ears, All you need to know about making speeches and presentations”
Oxford University Press, New York, 2004