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The Sykes Group
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Virginia Beach, VA 23456
Tel: 757-427-7032
Fax: 757-427-0929

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Impromptu Speech Skills

 

Impromptu Speech:  Five Secrets to “Thinking on Your Feet”

By Ed Sykes © All Rights Reserved

 

 

Many times we are put into situations where we are asked a question and need to give an impromptu answer, or “think on your feet.”  It could be a sales or customer service situation, your manager asking you for a progress report, a request for your ideas on a new community project, or a job interview.

 

During these times we can feel the pressure.  Our heart begins to race, we start to sweat, we feel our knees knocking, or we want to hide under a rock.  This is because sometimes the answer we give could mean that big sale, the customer being satisfied, a promotion or raise, or that dream job.

 

The following are five secrets to help you give an impromptu answer and master your “thinking on your feet” skills:

 

 

1.     Listen

Many times when we are in a high pressure situation where we are so nervous we really don’t hear the actual question.  Been there, done that.  To make sure we understand the question and give the right answer do the following:

 

·         Breathe slower (Benefit: Relaxes body and mind).

·         Look directly at the questioner.  (Benefit:  Increases comprehension.)

·         Ask questions (Benefit: increases clarity and shows you are listening).

 

2.     Pause to Organize

It is okay to pause.  Pause to gather your thoughts.  When you pause you look and sound poised and in control.  Remember, there is power in silence.

3.     Repeat the Question

This has several benefits:

§         Buys you time to think.

§         Communicates a complete piece of information.

§         Allows you to take control of the question by rephrasing the question to a more positive light if needed.

§         Enables everyone, if in a public setting, to hear the question.

4.     Focus on One Main Point and Support It

The number one reason why we sometimes freeze up when asked to think on our feet is because we have so many ideas running around in our minds.  We don’t know which idea to mention.

Here’s the solution:  Go with the first idea that comes to mind and say it.  By sticking with that one point you can focus on two or three supporting points.  You sound more direct and confident when giving your answer.

5.     Summarize and Stop (SAS)

End your answer with some SAS (Summarize and Stop).  Give your answer, summarize, and stop.  Don’t apologize and don’t ramble on beyond the finish.  Try this trick: repeat the essence of the question.  For example, you may be asked, “Why did you stop the project?”  In your summary you might say, “And that‘s why we decided to start another project.”  Then stop.

 

Give your answer, let them know the end is near by saying:

 

“In summary…”

“In conclusion…”

 

Then simply stop.  Remember SAS.

 

Apply these techniques so that you can become a master impromptu speaker, improve your “thinking on your feet” skills, and give great answers.  Go to Think on Your Feet to learn how to improve your impromptu speaking skills.

 

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Suggested reading:

 

Common Courtesy Isn’t So Common – 10 Telephone Blunders in Everyday Business

Words to Live By – Six Ways to Breathe Life into Your Day

Verbal Faux Pas – The Words You Use Can Empower or Confuse

Bite Your Tongue! 10 Ways to Be an Effective Listener

Ten Quick Tips for Outstanding Presentations

Dr. Seuss's "The Cat in the Hat" Will Help You Get Your Point Across! (Yes you can, here's the plan!)

 

 

Success Resources

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Want to learn how to give impromptu speeches and think on your feet? Our How to Give Powerful Presentations or Assertive Communication workshops can help you give outstanding presentations.  Also read our articles on presentation skills, etc. Call us at 757-427-7032 or e-mail us at info@thesykesgrp.com.

 

Keywords:  Presentation Tips, speak with authority, Thinking on your feet, think on your feet, communication skills, Presentation Skills, public speaking, impromptu speech, impromptu

 

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