Teaching as an adjunct can be a lot of fun. It is also challenging. As I have encountered a number of situations, I realize such a blog can be helpful, both to me and to others.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Preparing For An Impromptu Speech

Recently, I gave a speech at my Toastmaster meeting and tackled the “Speaking off the Cuff” assignment. This assignment calls for the speaker to pick five categories and then let a person choose one of the categories and the speaker gives a five to seven minute speech on that category.

The idea behind this assignment is, when we give an impromptu speech, it is not totally unprepared. We usually are only asked to talk about topics of which we have knowledge; we often have an idea that we might be called upon to speak. The assignment goes on to say, as a result, we should always have some stories in the back of our mind that we can adapt to certain public speaking situations.

I absolutely agree with this philosophy and approach. It is true, it makes a lot of sense. For this assignment, however, I chose to do things slightly differently. The one down side to this assignment is, in effect, one can prepare five separate speeches and then based on which one is picked, that is the speech you give. Many people would have a tough time coming up with five separate speeches but some would not. I believe I am in the latter category. That was my reason for doing things differently. I told the person picking my topic that she had complete control over the topic. I did not want to limit her to five topics and know what they were.

The way I attempted to handle the situation was to have ten different anecdotes and figure, depending on the topic picked, I would adapt one of those anecdotes to the question and make a point or two with my story. After all, the point about having stories ready to go is quite valid.

Overall, it worked fairly well. It was not the strongest speech I ever gave but it certainly held together and responded to the question.

When it comes to teaching Public Speaking, students often panic when they learn they have to give an impromptu speech in class. I think this approach helps, to know that although it is impromptu you still can prepare. Not all student do prepare speeches but just knowing you have the option can release stress in regard to that impromptu assignment.

Later today look for a post concerning my thoughts of Sarah Palin’s speech. Also, keep your eyes open for a post concerning Joe Lieberman speaking at the Republican convention, which I also expect to have posted later in the day.