Methods of Delivery



Defining a Successful Delivery

Delivery is “real” when the speaker is honest and talks with the audience without acting.

Learning Objectives

List the four main qualities that make a speech “real” and describe their use

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Ethical — Audiences expect a public speaker’s life to be a reflection of his or her message.
  • Conversation –Audiences in North America seem to respond more favorably to public speaking that is a natural conversation.
  • Interactivity–Audiences feel connected to speakers who talk with them, rather than at them.
  • Eye contact–North American audiences expect the speaker to look them in the eye.
  • Voice–Each audience member expects a conversational tone but also wants to hear and understand the speaker. Public speakers should always use a microphone to make sure everyone can hear.
  • Gestures –Audiences expect to see gestures that feel natural, maintain interest, and help convey the message. Gestures may include movements of the hands, face, or other parts of the body.

Key Terms

  • ethics: The study of principles relating to right and wrong conduct.

Keeping it “real”

Successful delivery has two components according to Quintilian 9. A good man (or woman), speaking well has to be “real”, firstly you need to know and speak the truth; and secondly, you cannot be posing or acting when you speak.

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Marcus Fabius Quintilianus : A statue of Quintilianus with his hand raised to speak to a crowd.

Ethics of the speaker

Being a real person is the ethical nature of public speaking. Quintilian considered the ethical nature of the speaker first. The speaker is obligated to be a person of good character and speak the truth.

Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior. It comes from the Greek word “ethos,” which means “character”. Not only must the speaker deliver the speech well but he/she must be a person of good character. From the very early days of studying rhetoric, ethics were important. The speaker could not just say one thing and then do something different; he/she was called upon to live by what the he/she was saying. Speaking well, also means speaking justly, where eloquence, wisdom and goodness combine. The Greek philosopher Socrates suggested that evil or bad actions are the result of ignorance and that any person who knows what is truly right will automatically do it. What do you think?

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Socrates : Socrates using his “socratic” method as he teaches a student.

How does the speaker keep it real?

Let’s look at two important aspects of speaking well, which may serve as a guide.

Speaking as magnified conversation

In general, audiences in North America seem to respond more favorably to public speaking which is modeled as a natural, but magnified conversation. Public speaking is a conversation with the audience. Working with this model, you will find that certain behaviors will be more successful than others.

  • Interactivity–Rather than talking “at” the audience, it’s better to be speaking directly “with” the audience. You should, at least mentally, conceive of the audience as responding, asking questions and approving or disapproving of what you are saying. In essence, you are not lost in your own train of thought while ignoring the thoughts of the audience. There is interactivity or a perception of give and take between the audience and yourself as the speaker.
  • Eye contact–This is an important aspect of successful delivery for North American audiences. They expect you to look them in the eye. Here and in Western Europe, eye contact is interpreted the same way: conveying interest and honesty. People who avoid eye contact when speaking are viewed in a negative light, as withholding information and lacking in general confidence. However, in the Middle East, Africa, and especially Asia eye contact is seen as being disrespectful and even challenging of one’s authority. People who make eye contact, but only briefly, are seen as respectful and courteous.
  • Voice–you want to speak naturally but loud enough to be heard by all the members of the audience. At a minimum, you need to be intelligible to the audience so that they can comprehend the message. If you are not able to be clearly heard by the audience, then you will want to get special help to improve pronunciation, stress and emphasis.
  • Gestures–You are not an actor who takes on or plays a role, but rather, one who enlarges the gestures so that everyone can see. A gesture is a form of non-verbal communication in which visible bodily actions communicate particular messages, either in place of speech or together with and in parallel to words. Gestures include movement of the hands, face, or other parts of the body. Today, the conversational speaker, unlike the old school elocutionist who focused more on technique than substance, strives for natural gestures, which develop out of what is being said. As a conversational speaker you do not want to use planned or fixed gestures for dramatic effect. Additionally, you want to avoid any gestures that, out of nervousness or habit, might distract the audience from the message.

Requirements of the occasion

Conversational speaking or dialog with the audience does not mean that you are always informal or use casual speech. Different speaking occasions have different degrees of formality. The audience will judge, as so you need to adapt the appropriateness of dress, posture and word choice associated with how formal or informal the occasion may be. Ultimately, the successful speaker is really true to self and receives the desired response from the audience.

Choosing Your Method of Delivery

Speakers may or may not be able to choose a delivery method, but keeping best speech practices in mind leads to success in each situation.

Learning Objectives

Develop your personal delivery style, considering the four methods of speech delivery

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • There are four common methods of delivery: impromptu (little or not preparation), memorization, reading from prepared manuscript, and extemporaneous (with outline or notes).
  • Develop a speaking persona by manifesting your own honest and sincere personality without imitating the style of others when communicating with the audience.
  • Have something to say. The first indicator that a person is speaking well is that the speaker will have something to say. Without ideas, opinions, or information, the speech wastes the speaker’s and the audience’s time.
  • Speak honestly and with sincerity. Unless you thoroughly believe in the message you wish to convey to others, you are not likely to impress them favorably.
  • Develop your own style; do not imitate. Speaking in a natural conversational style means that the speaker does not imitate the speaking style of other great speakers but may reflect their style or approach as it suits the speaker’s personality.

Key Terms

  • persona: In the study of communication, persona is a term given to describe the versions of self that all individuals possess. The public persona will differ from the persona an individual will present when he/she happens to be alone.
  • manuscript: A single, original copy of a book, article, or composition, written by hand or even printed.
  • impromptu: Improvised; without prior preparation.

Implications for Selection of Method

Four Methods for Different Occasions

There are four common methods of delivery–impromptu with little or no preparation, memorization, reading from prepared manuscript, and extemporaneous with outline or notes. Often you will not have a choice in the method of the delivery; the demands of the situation or the occasion may dictate the method. For example, you may be called on to respond to what someone else has just said, or to add a few words with no time to prepare. Or, you could be called upon to read a proclamation or announcement.

Impromptu

On many different occasions you may be called upon to speak with little or no notice before hand. For an impromptu speech, you may have a minute or two to prepare in your mind before you speak. Additionally, you may be called on to read a letter, scripture, or article to a group without preparation.

Manuscript

You may need to use the manuscript that is provided without adding your own thoughts or comments. However, there are other situations where you will need to prepare your own manuscript— perhaps for publication in a newsletter or to make sure you include exact wording.

Memorized

You may need to memorize a brief speech, scripture, or perhaps a poem as your part in a presentation, rather than being given a manuscript to read.

Extemporaneous

In many situations you will have advanced notice, you can think about what you want to say to your audience and anticipate their responses as you develop an outline for your message. Extemporaneous is the most natural of all methods of prepared delivery where you can successfully achieve a more natural conversation with the audience.

Developing a Speaking Persona for Different Situations

You will want to develop your own persona for all methods of delivery. In the study of communication, persona is a term given to describe the versions of self that all individuals possess. You behave according to the desired impression you wish to create when speaking with others. A person may create or manifest different personas at different times, for different occasions. In particular, the persona you present before others when speaking will differ from the persona your present when you happen to be alone. Here are some important considerations for developing a natural, conversational persona for speech delivery.

Have Something to Say

The first indicator that a person is speaking well is that the speaker will have something to say. Without ideas, opinions, or information, talk becomes the most wasteful product in the world. It is not only a waste of time to the person who insists on delivering it, but a waste of time and patience to the people who are forced to listen. Shakespeare put a man who had nothing to say in to The Merchant of Venice and then had Bassanio describe him as follows:

“Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more than any man in all Venice. His reasons are as two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff: you shall seek all day ‘ere you find them, and when you have them, they are not worth the search.”

In essence, you need to think clearly and prepare the content of the message carefully before focusing on delivery.

Speak Sincerely

A second indicator of a good speaker is sincerity. Nothing can be substituted for personal sincerity. Unless you thoroughly believe in the message you wish to convey to others, you are not likely to impress them favorably.

Develop Your Own Style—Do Not Imitate

Speaking in a natural, conversational style means that the speaker does not imitate the speaking style of other great speakers but may reflect their style or approach as it suits the speaker’s personality. For example, shows British rapper Speech Debelle who has developed her own sincere, conversational delivery style in her 2012 album, Freedom of Speech. It is a fatal mistake to set out deliberately to imitate some favorite speaker, and to mold your style after that person. You may observe certain ways or methods in other speakers that will fit in naturally with your style and temperament, so you adopt them. Always be on your guard against anything that might impair your own individuality—even in the slightest degree.

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British Rapper Speech Debelle: If you develop your own delivery style, you will always be prepared to give a good speech.

Remember that speaking is a perfectly normal act, which does not call for strange, artificial methods, but only for an extension and development of the familiar act of conversation. The objective is to develop and magnify your own honest and sincere persona as a speaker without imitation when communicating with the audience.

Speaking from a Manuscript

Your manuscript delivery method will vary depending on whether the manuscript is your own or someone else’s.

Learning Objectives

Explain the advantages and disadvantages of delivering a speech directly from a manuscript

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • When provided with a manuscript, you need to deliver it exactly as written. It is the original author’s ideas and not your own that you are presenting to the audience.
  • One important form of manuscript is a proclamation. When you read the proclamation, you create a distinct speech act that puts the statements into effect.
  • After the speaker reads the manuscript and understands the meaning, he or she can practice creating a conversational delivery by emphasizing important words, creating vocal phrases with the right words together, and varying the pace and emphasis.
  • If you are preparing your own manuscript for delivery, consider first the audience and write for them as if you were speaking directly to them.
  • You can now use low cost personal teleprompters to help you deliver sermons, deliver speeches, and create quality audios.

Key Terms

  • teleprompter: A teleprompter is a display device that prompts the person speaking with an electronic visual text of a speech.
  • manuscript: A single, original copy of a book, article, or composition, written by hand or even printed.
  • Proclamation: A statement which is proclaimed; a formal public announcement.

You may need to use the manuscript provided to you without adding your own thoughts or comments. However, there are other situations where you will need to prepare your own manuscript perhaps for publication in a newsletter or to make sure you include exact wording.

When Provided with a Manuscript

You need to delivery it exactly as written. You are delivering words which were prepared by someone else; they are the original author’s ideas and not your own that you are presenting to the audience. The manuscript could take many different forms. It could be a short story, a poem, or an article. You may also be provided with a special type of document, called a proclamation.

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Manuscript: A medieval Latin manuscript by Aristotle with original Greek text added in the margins.

With a proclamation, the wording is exact and must be read exactly as written, as it is a distinct speech act that puts the statements into effect. If are reading a proclamation and say, “I now declare…” when you finish you have actually made it happen.

Advantages

You usually have time to prepare which will allow you to fully understand the meaning that needs to conveyed to the audience. Once you understand the meaning, then it is possible to practice reading to create a conversational delivery by emphasizing important words, create vocal phrases with the right words together, and vary the pace and emphasis to convey the meaning of the original. Since you will have the document with you, you can mark it to indicate where you want to add emphasis, pause, and change volume or pitch.

Disadvantages

Of course, the obvious disadvantge is that you are speaking for someone else; your are delivering his or her thoughts and ideas and not your own. You do not have ownership of the ideas but you may be judged since you are delivering the manuscript.

When preparing your own manuscript

If you are preparing your own manuscript for delivery, consider first the audience and write for them as if you were speaking directly to them. You are not writing a book but a speech to be delivered. When you deliver the speech from manuscript, you are challenged to make a connection with the audience rather than simply read words.

Advantages

Preparing your own manuscript prevents you from saying anything you would not say in careful consideration of your topic. It does assure that you say everything you want to say and gives the impression that you are a calm, collected thinker. You have the opportunity to work with a teleprompter to help you speak directly to the audience, but you will still need to practice with its speed and placement.

Disadvantages

There are disadvantages for the speaker preparing his or her own manuscript. It is a challenge, since the speaker will have difficulty maintaining eye contact with the audience to show warmth and sincerity. It may also be difficult for you to actually develop a conversation with the audience while reading. You want to sound natural and develop your own persona which is difficult if a person is just reading his or her words on a page. With the necessary practice, you can perfect and develop a speech and deliver it from a manuscript with careful rehearsal.

When Working with a Teleprompter

You may also work with a teleprompter to increase eye contact and presence with the audience.

Professional Teleprompters

A teleprompter (also called a telescript or an autocue) is a display device that prompts the person speaking with an electronic visual text of a speech or script. Using a teleprompter is similar to the practice of using cue cards. You can see the words on the screen in front of and usually below the camera lens of a professional video camera. The words on the screen are reflected to the eyes of the presenter using a sheet of clear glass or specially prepared beam splitter. Since you do not need to look down to consult written notes, you appear to be speaking spontaneously and can look directly into the camera lens or the audience.

Personal Teleprompters

Fortunately, there are inexpensive teleprompter software applications as well as free web-based teleprompter applications, which will allow you to use a teleprompter to help you deliver sermons, deliver speeches, and create quality audios. These entry-level products work on desktops, laptops, and even tablets.

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Teleprompter in use: This teleprompter is in use for a broadcast.

Speaking from Memory

It to your advantage to memorize your speech in some situations, and a distracting disadvantage in others.

Learning Objectives

Demonstrate how to deliver a speech from memory so that you appear natural and relatable to the audience

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Memorized delivery takes two basic forms: the total speech or manuscript is committed to memory, or standard parts of the message are memorized and woven into each speech.
  • Memorizing your speech allows you to stay in touch with your audience.
  • One of the main problems of delivering a speech from memory is that it sounds like you are reading since you are focusing your attention on remembering the words.
  • When writing your speech, write as if you were speaking naturally, directly to an audience.

Key Terms

  • extemporaneous: A type of speech delivery which involves preparation of speaker notes prior to delivery, associated with conversational style of delivery.

Uses of Memorized Delivery

Good orators of the past were expected to deliver their speeches from memory without notes or other aids. Today, you may find it to your advantage to memorize your speech or presentation.

Today, memorization takes two basic forms:

  • The total speech or manuscript is committed to memory.
  • Standard parts of a message are memorized and woven into each speech.

Advantages

If you memorize your speech you are more likely to perform better than the speaker reading from a manuscript, since you can stay in touch with your audience. When speaking from memory, you do not need to think about what is coming next or how to express an idea as you would in extemporaneous speaking; therefore, you can give more attention to the audience. Today, we generally admire and stress extemporaneous speaking in our society, but many of the great speeches in history were delivered all or partially from memory.

Disadvantages

One of the main problems of delivering a speech from memory is sounding rehearsed, or like you are reading. It is possible to memorize and deliver a speech with variety and emphasis.

Tips for the Speaker

You may use various approaches to memorize and rehearse your speech. Below are some guidelines to follow when delivering a memorized speech:

  • When writing the speech, write as if you were speaking naturally, directly to an audience.
  • Develop an outline of the main points and then memorize the outline.
  • If delivering the same speech to different audiences over time, memorize the individual sections and then weave them together for each occasion.
  • If you forget a word or two or a small section, just continue speaking.
Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks at a freedom rally.

Engage the Audience: To be successful, a speaker should connect with the audience, not just recite words.

Overall, if you have the attitude that you are communicating with an audience rather than reciting words, you are likely to succeed.

Impromptu Speeches

An impromptu speech is given with little or no preparation, usually about a topic that the speaker knows well.

Learning Objectives

List ways to quickly prepare when called upon to give an impromptu speech

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Remember that you are generally in control of the content, so you can decide what you are going to talk about and include topics you want to talk about.
  • Your delivery will naturally be more conversational and spontaneous.
  • Since you are not well-prepared, you may overlook some significant information, but audience questions can often help fill in the gaps.
  • Become familiar with common organizational patterns so you can apply them in any situation using the three part speech outline of an Introduction, Body, and Conclusion.

Key Terms

  • impromptu: Improvised; without prior preparation.

Impromptu Speech

An impromptu speech is given with little or no preparation, yet almost always with some advance knowledge on the topic. When called to speak “off the cuff” on the “spur of the moment,” is is usually because the speaker is quite knowledgeable about the subject. For example, if called on to speak in class, a student might give a short impromptu speech about a topic that was in the assigned readings. Business meetings also use a “check in” to tell everyone else about a current project. In small informal meetings, the audience will interrupt an impromptu speech and ask questions, which helps guide the speech and the information that is presented. When campaigning, politicians sometimes respond to reporters or voters almost anywhere and at any time.

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Impromptu Speech: Mohamed el-Beltagy, running for the lower house of Parliament, stops to give an impromptu speech.

Advantages

Remember that you are generally in control of the content you are presenting, so you can include topics that you want to talk about. Additionally, you can use personal examples from experience to support what you are saying. Since you are an authority on the topic, you want to speak with conviction like you really mean it. Your delivery will naturally be more conversational and spontaneous. Since you are not prepared with pages of notes, you are more likely to speak directly to the audience just like if you were speaking to another person in a conversation.

Disadvantages

Since you are not well-prepared, you may have difficulty thinking of what to say or formulating the ideas once you get up to speak. Although you are familiar with the topic, your speech may lack details and supporting information. If the audience is passive and does not ask questions to guide you, you may overlook some significant content. Hopefully, someone in the audience will ask questions so you can fill in gaps. Additionally, impromptu speaking is rarely appropriate for occasions which require more reasoned discourse with supporting ideas or more formal events.

Tips for the Speaker (Impromptu Preparation)

What do you do if you are asked to speak at the last minute? It is best to become familiar with common organization patterns so you can apply them in any situation and then also consider what you have been asked to speak about. Are you presenting your opinion? State your opinion, the reasons why you support that opinion, and conclude. Is it something that happened? Retell the event from beginning to end (first, next, then, etc.). Is it a demonstration? Explain each step in the process from first to last.

  • Make sure to plan an introduction and a conclusion. If possible, take a few moments to think about what you want to say to introduce the topic and have some way of concluding.
  • Make a few notes for yourself on a card, phone, or iPad. Or, text yourself a few single words to remind yourself of the important ideas.
  • Consider the simple three part outline of an Introduction, Body, and Conclusion, and fit your ideas into that pattern.
  • Do not try to remember a detailed outline for your entire speech; just remember the order of important points.
  • Be sure to stop when you have made your points.
  • If you do not know what to say next, you can summarize and paraphrase what you have just said, and then will probably be ready to move on to the next topic.
  • Remember that, in most situations, you will know more about the subject than the audience. Usually you will not be called up to speak impromptu about something you know nothing about, so you have probably spoken about the general topic before or you probably have knowledge to share with others.
  • Talk like you mean it. In other words speak with conviction. You are explaining your ideas or knowledge and you are an authority.
  • Relax!

Extemporaneous Speeches

Extemporaneous, the most natural method of delivery, involves glancing at notes while maintaining crucial eye contact with the audience.

Learning Objectives

Give examples of note-taking strategies for extemporaneous speeches

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • There are two popular methods for organizing ideas to create a graphical representation for speaker notes–outlining and mind or concept mapping.
  • An outline is a list of items with each item divided into additional sub-items. Each level in an outline has at least two subcategories. There are three basic types of hierarchical outlines–sentence, topic and phrase.
  • Topic and phrase are the most useful for speaker notes since they allow the speaker to quickly glance at the notes while maintaining eye contact with the audience.
  • Mind mapping and concept mapping are visual representation of ideas and concepts. Both mind maps and concept maps can be used to graphically show the relationship between ideas for a speech and as speaker notes for delivery.
  • A mind map diagram starts with a single word as a central branch node and lesser categories as sub-branches going off from the central node. A concept maps can have multiple hubs or nodes with clusters of concepts labeled to show the kind of relationship.
  • While extemporaneous speaking may be free of the constraints of memorization and manuscript speaking, it is not careless talk; the speaker prepares notes in advance in order to deliver an organized speech.

Key Terms

  • concept map: A diagram showing the relationships among concepts, with the concepts drawn in rectangular boxes, which are connected with labelled arrows that denote the relationships between concepts, such as “is a,” “gives rise to,” “results in,” “is required by,” or “contributes to.”
  • mind map: A diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks or other items linked to and arranged radially around a central key word or idea.
  • extemporaneous: A type of speech delivery which involves preparation of speaker notes prior to delivery, associated with conversational style of delivery.

Extemporaneous Speech

Extemporaneous speaking is one of the most natural methods for delivering a prepared speech. You can use an extemporaneous speech to achieve a more natural tone, flow and style with the audience.

First, think about your topics and anticipate the audience’s reception to your speech. You can develop speech notes based on this preparation and use them to aid you during the presentation.

Preparing Speech Notes

There are two popular methods for creating a graphical representation for notes: outlining, and mind or concept mapping.

An outline is a list of items with each item divided into additional sub-items. Each level in an outline has at least two subcategories. There are three basic types of outlines:

  1. Sentence outline – Each complete sentence includes a heading or single sentence about the subject of the outline.
  2. Topic outline – Each topic is listed and functions as a subtopic of the outline’s subject.
  3. Phrase outline – Each short phrase entry is a subtopic of the aforementioned main entry.

Speaking notes, topic outlines, and phrase outlines have an advantage over sentence outlines. For example, you can easily look at your notes for reference and as a personal reminder of which topics to discuss as you’re speaking.

Outlines commonly take two forms: alphanumeric and decimal.

An alphanumeric outline includes a capitalized number or letter at the beginning of each topic. Look at the sample:

  1. Thesis statement: E-mail and internet monitoring is an invasion of employees’ rights
    1. The situation: Over 80% of today’s companies monitor their employees.
      1. To prevent fraudulent activities, theft, and other workplace related violations.
      2. To more efficiently monitor employee productivity.
    2. What are employees’ privacy rights when it comes to electronic monitoring and surveillance?
      1. American employees have basically no legal protection from mean and snooping bosses.
        1. There are no federal or State laws protecting employees.
        2. Employees may assert privacy protection for their own personal effects.
      2. Most managers believe that there is no right to privacy in the workplace.
        1. Workplace communications should be about work; anything else is a misuse of company equipment and company time.
        2. Employers have a right to prevent misuse by monitoring employee communication.

Decimal outline

The decimal outline shows how each item at every level relates to the whole sample.

Thesis statement:
1.0 Introduction
….1.1 Brief history of Liz Claiborne
….1.2 Corporate environment
2.0 Career opportunities
….2.1 Operations management
……..2.1.1 Traffic
……..2.1.2 International trade and corporate customs
……..2.1.3 Distribution
….2.2 Product development

The outline could be printed or handwritten as in this expert from Richard Nixon’s Checkers speech.

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Speech Notes: Notes from Richard Nixon’s Checkers speech.

Mind Mapping and Concept Mapping

Mind mapping and concept mapping are visual representations of ideas and concepts. A mind map is a diagram which starts with a single word and then branches out from the central node, with lesser categories as sub-branches of the larger branches. Concept maps are more free-form, since multiple hubs and clusters can be created. Unlike mind maps, concept maps do not fix on a single conceptual center.

For example, in the mind map for student learning, you can view the main component idea and related ideas which connect to its branch nodes. You can also use a mind map as speaking notes.

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Mind Map : A mind map is a diagram that starts with one word and expands into additional categories.

Practice and Rehearsal Guidelines

The following guidelines are best practices on how to practice and rehearse an extemporaneous speech:

  • Speak in a conversational style by pretending you are with your audience.
  • Rehearse with your graphics and coordinate them with your talk.
  • Display your graphics only when you are talking about them.
  • Rehearse in front of others and solicit feedback.
  • Record and listen to your timed practice speech.
  • Prepare for interruptions and questions at the end.

Although extemporaneous speaking may not require memorization and manuscript speaking, organize and prepare your content and notes ahead of time to deliver a speech that will be well received by your audience.

A sign with a parrot saying "Free speech doesn't mean careless talk!"

Free Speech : “Free speech doesn’t mean careless talk!” produced by the Office for Emergency Management.

Key Differences Between Prepared and Impromptu Speeches

The key difference between a prepared and impromptu speech is the amount of time given to the speaker to rehearse and prepare.

Learning Objectives

Differentiate between prepared and impromptu speeches

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • An impromptu speech is one where the speaker is given no preparation time at all.
  • A prepared speech is one where the speaker is given the topic well in advance and the speaker is given time to research it and rehearse the speech.
  • The different type of prepared speeches include extemporaneous, memorized, and manuscript.

Key Terms

  • impromptu: Improvised; without prior preparation.

Differences Between Prepared and Impromptu Speeches

There are several different types of speeches that one can deliver. They range from perfectly memorized, to completely off the cuff with no preparation at all.

Prepared Speech

The most common type of speech is a prepared speech. For a prepared speech, the speaker was been given the topic in advance, had time to do background research on it, and has practiced delivering the speech.

This type of speech may be used when giving a presentation or speaking in a business meeting.

Sgt. Lorenzo Parco, a Sergeants Course Student, uses the new SMART board to show a PowerPoint slide during a class.

Using PowerPoint Slides: PowerPoint slides can be used in a prepared speech.

However, preparation does not necessarily mean memorizing every word. A prepared speech can be an extemporaneous, manuscript, or memorized speech, or a combination of these techniques. An extemporaneous speech is often delivered with the aid of note cards to help the speaker remember key points and content order. A memorized speech is one that is recited from memory without the aid of scripts or cue cards. A manuscript speech is one that has the entire speech written out for reference.

When preparing for a speech one should:

  • Rehearse the speech as it will be presented (that is, with visual aids, standing or sitting as will be appropriate for the real speech, etc.)
  • Time the rehearsal
  • Rehearse in front of others
  • If possible, rehearse in the location where the speech will be delivered to become more comfortable in the space, see how the audience will view the speech, and see how much space is available for movement
  • Create a visual and audio recording of the speech, and look for areas where body language or vocal performance should be improved

Impromptu Speech

Another type of speech that is less commonly seen in society (but nonetheless very useful to understand) is the impromptu speech. Impromptu speaking occurs when the speaker is given no time to prepare for the speech; he or she is given a topic and must immediately begin speaking on it. This speaking style involves thinking on one’s feet and being able to plan the flow of the speech as the speaker is giving it.

While this seems like a difficult style in which to give a speech, most speech in a person’s daily life is impromptu. People do not background research on every conversation or prepare for hours before speaking to friends. However, having to give this kind of a speech to an audience or on a topic one is not so familiar with can definitely be a challenge.

The most common example of a real world impromptu speech is the elevator pitch. When in an unanticipated situation where one is speaking to someone who has the ability to advance one’s career or provide an opportunity in a new field, it is crucial to be able to deliver an excellent impromptu speech.

Additional Notes on Preparing and Delivering Impromptu Speeches

An impromptu speech is given with little or no preparation, but the presenter is usually very knowledgeable about the subject matter.

Learning Objectives

Describe methods to successfully deliver an impromptu speech

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Anticipate common questions; if you are asked about your line of work at a social event, you can have a response prepared. Having an elevator pitch ready is one way to prepare.
  • If you think you will be called on to speak, it is a good idea to take a few minutes and make notes on important points.Select a familiar organizational pattern and then add an introduction and summary conclusion statement to the main ideas.
  • You want to maintain eye contact, speak directly to the other person(s,) and minimize noise which will interfere with your delivery at an informal event.
  • In a formal, stand-up event you want to put comments in context of the occasion, maintain eye contact while glancing at notes, and use internal summaries and transitions to show progress as you move to the conclusion.
  • In a Q&A session, you want to listen attentively and repeat the question that you are answering. If you do not know the answer, say so and make arrangement for a follow-up electronic response.

Key Terms

  • impromptu: Improvised; without prior preparation.

Additional Notes on Preparing and Delivering Impromptu Speeches

An impromptu speech is given with little or no preparation. However, you will generally be called up to speak about a topic in which you are familiar or considered an expert. Impromptu speeches can take many different forms and occur in different situations. There are ways to prepare and deliver impromptu speeches by anticipating the more common impromptu contexts.

Preparation—Think before you Speak!

Anticipate Common Questions

In certain situations you can anticipate the types of questions or requests which will require a seemingly impromptu response. For example, you might be asked about your line of work at a social event. Since you know your occupation, you can have a response prepared. You might have a special project or interest that you want to pitch to others.

Elevator pitch

An elevator pitch is a short summary used to quickly identify what you do or what project is important to you in about 30 seconds, or the length of an elevator ride. So, when someone asks you what you do for a living, you can quickly and seemingly without preparation give an impromptu pitch or description.

Stand-up Speaking Event

If you think you will be called on to speak, it is a good idea to take a few minutes and make notes on the important points before you speak:

  • Apply a three part plan for speech. You have learned about the three part speech structure, which are Introduction, Body and Conclusion. Apply the structure and think about your main points and thesis. List two or three main ideas for the body, develop the introduction by creating an opener, and present your conclusion with a summary and a reference to the opening statement from the introduction.
  • Use a common organizational pattern. Think about the common patterns of organization with which you are already familiar: topical, spatial, chronological, and problem/solution—choose the one that fits the ideas you have just jotted down.
  • Use phrases and single line notes. Make sure to make your notes as one line phrases in outline form. You can put your notes on paper or any device that allows you to quickly glance at a line and back up at the audience (like your smartphone).

Often, you will be presenting content that you have already covered with other audiences. On those occasions, you can use the same content but you will need to modify the introduction to reference the current occasion or audience.

Delivery

Informal Context

Many situations can be informal social occasions, meetings, or one-on-one talks where you could be standing or sitting.

  • Maintain eye contact—it is important in Western cultural settings to look directly at the person you are speaking to so that you have each other’s attention.
  • Eliminate noise—you want to make sure that you can actually hear each other easily in a noisy room. If you are experiencing noise, you might suggest stepping aside to a less noisy corner to delivery your short message.

Informal Meetings and Q&A

Impromptu speeches are usually used in short informal meetings where the audience can interrupt and ask questions to help guide the speech and retrieve the information they need from the speaker. It is important in this situation to stay focused by repeating the question and answering it without going off on a tangent.

Stand-up Speaking Context

There are situations where you will be asked to share a few words with a large audience.You will want to apply your knowledge of public speaking to deliver a short, organized speech.

  • Put comments in context—you may want to start by putting your comments in context as a way of introducing your message. For example, you may refer to the occasion or the previous speaker.
  • Maintain eye contact—hopefully, you had a few minutes to prepare so that you can glance at your one line notes and then back up to the audience.
  • Use summaries and transitions—make sure to summarize and show connections between ideas; at the end, bring the message to closure with a summary statement.

Formal Speech with Q&A Session

Following a speech you will often participate in a Q & A session. Members of the audience will ask questions and you will respond without time to prepare:

  • Listen attentively to the question, repeat it, and provide a short focused answer.
  • If you do not know the answer, say so and make arrangements to respond later electronically.

You are the expert; you will know more about the topic than your listeners. Remember that the listeners want to hear what you have to say, even if it is slightly disorganized.

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Q&A Sessions: Tommy Chong listens attentively during a Q&A session.