5 Tips for Off-The-Cuff Speaking – HBR


In my role I often have to give impromptu talks. I have learnt the hard way (and still do occasionally) that impromptu talks are not always as good as you would like them to be. On HBR’s blog, John Coleman put a simple article with 5 tips to help (see link below).

  1. Define a structure – have a couple of structures that you fall back on. My standard ons are ‘Past, Present and Future’ and ‘Country, Company, Individual’.
  2. Put the punchline first – get the key message or theme out early. it helps structure and allows the audience to know where you are going
  3. Remember your audience – empathise and show you know what they are thinking about
  4. Memorise what to say – I have a few stories, anecdotes or insights that i fall back on. In particular, I have my Top 10 facts or insights that I can call on one or two in most conversations or presentations to provide evidence or colour
  5. Keep it short – it is impromptu. Focus on getting one or two key points over and make them memorable.

Above all – it does take practice. People expect to be fantastic first time up which in most things in life is unrealistic.




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