For many of us it’s the worst case scenario – suddenly having to deliver an impromptu presentation. Maybe your boss just asked you to say a few words about the project you are working on. Maybe you are at a networking meeting and have been asked to introduce yourself. Suddenly your throat is dry and you want to fade into the background.
Being asked to speak in public is a major challenge for many leaders. Being asked to speak spontaneously as well as publicly can put the task right into the “I’d rather die” category. When this happens your brain freezes, you mumble incoherently or you appear to lose all your dignity.
Yet these scenarios happen all the time.
You may be introducing yourself at a networking event, giving a toast at a company party, unexpectedly being pulled into a meeting to give an update, having a colleague directly turn to you in the middle of a presentation for input or being asked an unexpected question on a panel.
Perhaps you have been asked to fill in for a person who was supposed to present, but got sick at the last minute. Perhaps there has been a problem on a project you are leading and you have been asked to give an update. There are many times that we can be called on at the last minute and it is important to be able to step up to the plate.
While you may wish for more thorough preparation, giving an extemporaneous speech can actually mark you as an excellent communicator. It’s how you handle yourself when you are least prepared that often demonstrates your leadership and influencing abilities.
Now running a meeting on a totally impromptu basis is not recommended, however if you keep these tips in mind, you might be able to carry it off.
- Be confident – Look up, breathe deeply and say something positive to yourself such as “I’m going to be okay.” “I’ve got this.”
- Focus on the audience – Every presentation, including those that are impromptu need to be audience centric. The audience will be on your side. Just focus on what will be useful to them. What do they need to know?
- Less is more – Don’t ramble. Be concise. An audience is more likely to listen to you if you stay on target. In fact, they will probably love you for it. Short and to the point is best. Remember the Power of 3 and stick to three key points.
We NEED to speak in front of people every chance that we can so that we are noticed and regarded as a valuable member of the company. Being noticed and high energy in presentations will give you the advantage of priority on promotion offers, more responsibility and ultimately, higher pay.
To your success in impromptu speaking!!