Ace An Impromptu Speech With This Template

Ace an Impromptu Speech With This Template

If you've ever been asked to give a speech or a toast on the fly, you know how much pressure it can be. You can deliver a solid impromptu speech by remembering these five elements.

Photo by Dave & Margie Hill / Kleerup

Over at Reddit, Nwwazzu breaks down the framework of an effective speech. This template is great to keep in mind if you're ever in a pinch: like if you're at a friend's wedding and someone unexpectedly asks you to toast. If that happens, remember these five functions to build your on-the-fly speech:

  1. Greeting: Pretty obvious; you want to say hello.
  2. Event: State why everyone's gathered, what the event is about, etc. Nwwazzu suggests starting this off with, "As we all know…"
  3. Common Ground: Discuss something relatable to you and your audience. Maybe start this part off with "Like many of you, I…"
  4. Why You're Speaking: Include why you've been chosen to speak. As Nwwazzu puts it, what gives you the right to speak on this topic?
  5. Call to Action: Finally, end with a call to action, "let's all toast…" "let's have a round of applause." This is a natural closer.

So using the wedding example, you'd say something like:

"Hello, as we all know, Jim and Pam are getting married today. Like most of you, I've known either the bride or groom for many years. Pam and I were childhood friends, and she and I have been through so much together. It's nice to know she's found her partner in crime. Let's all toast to their love."

It's not the most creative thing in the world, but it's a lot better than fumbling over what to say or blurting out something stupid. In a pinch, it will do the trick. See what else Nwwazzu has to say about it at the link below.

How to give a quick impromptu speech or toast


    Structure is important and this is great advice, but there's always one point that seems to get a lot of people lost with their speeches no matter how well they think they're structuring it.
    They all too often don't know what they're saying or why they're saying it. Or if they do, they don't deliver that message.

    Have a message FOR YOUR AUDIENCE. Not for other people.
    That's why you're here, talking to them.

    X and Y are getting married? No shit, your audience already knows what. They love each other, they'll be great together? Also, no shit. What are you here for, a boring formality?
    This isn't about the bride and groom, really, it's about the room full of people you're talking to - so talk to THEM. Make it about them and their interests. Think of a 'moral to the story' some kind of uplifting message that you want to deliver.

    Eg: I ad-libbed my Dad's best man speech and used it to tell the audience that they can be reassured that he's the kind of man who takes care of a woman - a woman who was the mother/daughter/sister/friend of my foreign audience. That even though the two of them are very different people who act differently, those differences complement each other and create a stronger union for it. So I asked them to join me in celebrating the relief and joy we could all share in knowing that people we care so much about have found a marriage that will keep them both safe and happy, to strengthen each other in the ways they don't demonstrate themselves. The speech was a hit, and it wasn't scripted, because I had a message to deliver, and I did it succinctly, with authority.

    Everyone else is going to have a personal message appropriate for them. Be informed, be aware, and use that knowledge. Otherwise, why are you even here?

    Same goes for work meetings.

    Actually talk TO your audience. Make your message about them.
    Someone somewhere else completed a big project and you want to talk about it even though it doesn't actually affect your audience? Why are you even here? Meetings purely for delivering news that doesn't matter to the people you're telling is a cancer in the workplace, fucking stop it; you're the reason people hate meetings.

    Oh, it DOES impact your audience? Well then. Do you know precisely how? If not, let's repeat: why are you even here? Let someone who knows what they're talking about give the speech.
    Are you just trumpeting your own horn (or someone else's) in the mistaken belief that other people give two shits or might find it inspirational how awesome someone else is? Again, fuck right off, no-one actually likes that. If they say they do, it's because they want something from you.

    If you want to give an EFFECTIVE speech, then know the impact to your audience, make your message about your audience. That's what they care about, not how great someone else is.

    Don't know the full impact, but have some ideas of where it might be and need to deliver the message that this is something your audience will need to investigate more closely, themselves or through other official channels? Great! You've found your message! "Here's what I know, and what you need to know can be found here, and you should probably go do that." Make your speech about THAT message and don't go into detailed history on the thing that the audience doesn't care about.

    Delivering new information to educate? Very close to the workspeech, but also try to figure out why this is something that needed to be delivered on a stage and not in a journal. or: Why are you even here? Play to that. The only people doing this should be students, lecturers, and professionals in conferences. And even in conferences, information has a purpose - why are you telling people this, and how do you expect them to use it or why do they need to know it? There's your message.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now