Extemporaneous Speech Tips for the Nervous First-Timer
With man having a social nature, it seems inevitable for anybody to experience impromptu speaking at some point, whether it be through introducing one's self to new classmates in school, convincing a store manager to replace an item purchased three days back, or delivering a short "thank you" speech after a big win.
In short, any form of natural communication can be considered extemporaneous. Thus, when you are suddenly asked to speak on behalf of your team in front of a crowd, you can't really say such a speech is something new.
Easier Said Than Done?
Of course, speaking to people you are familiar with is different from having to deliver a speech to a room full of strangers. And because the goal is to get the message across with the least amount of trouble as possible, the first tip is to keep it simple and short.
Impromptu speeches, while sudden, still give you at least a minute to prepare. Do not panic. Instead, use this time to formulate your thesis statement. A thesis statement is a one-line summary of what you are supposed to say. Focus on this and build your additional points around it, making sure that you don't stray.
Use simple words and stop yourself from trying too hard to impress your audience. Clamoring within yourself for a catchy sound bite in such a short time increases the risk of losing your key message and ending up at a loss for words once you're up on stage. Try not to lose sight of why you're giving an impromptu speech.
Finally, relax. If you fiddle with your fingers when you're nervous, place them inside your pockets or clasp them in front of you so they don't go all over the place. To break the ice, you can start with a very short and genuine comment about how nervous you are being under the limelight, and then proceed immediately to what you are supposed to say.
You will be surprised at how the words will just flow out of your mouth once you've overcome the first 30 second jitters. Keep your message genuine and real, and will everything will be all right. Oh, and don't forget to smile.