How to survive any Impromptu Presentation

Thinking On Your Feet – Survive Impromptu Business Presentations

It was Winston Churchill who said “that it usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech”, and in an ideal world, we know that preparation and rehearsal is the key to success of any presentation!

However, it is not unusual in business to be called on without any or with little notice during a meeting, to give an update on aspects such as “the progress of a project”, or an explanation on “the team’s performance”. Although immediate feedback is expected, for the sake of your credibility, it needs to be accurate, meaningful and easy to follow. In this case you may only have a few minutes (or seconds) to get your thoughts together, so how do you ensure a successful outcome?

One of the dictionary definitions of “impromptu (im’promptu:)” = unrehearsed / improvisation, however, ensuring a successful “short notice” presentation, requires that your audience feels that you are fully prepared!

Imbed in your mind the “short talk structure” below, which is a simple yet effective process that you can call on at short notice, facilitating a successful impromptu outcome! Having this process embedded in your mind will ensure you have the confidence to logically organize your thoughts and the confidence to know that you are always armed for success.

Step 1 – The Topic Tell them, what you are
going to tell them
– State your topic
– Stipulate your 3 key focus areas
Step 2 – The Body Then tell them – Expand on the 3 key focus areas
– Add depth to each of the 3 aspects
Step 3 – The Conclusion Then tell them what you told them A brief wrap up which includes:
– Your topic
– The 3 key focus areas
– Where to from here / or a call to action

Following a logical message preparation structure is essential; however don’t overlook the critical importance of delivering your message in a polished and energetic manner. Your message should unfold as a story with the use of ‘link phrases’ and the strategic use of the pause. Open with a captivating thought or statement and ensure you end with conviction!

The ‘conclusion’ should confirm the benefits or “where to from here” and if appropriate, should be specific about asking the audience for a commitment or buy-in to your desired next step.

Written by:
Beth-Ann Galvin
Managing Director

Business Communication Skills Holdings (Pty) Ltd.

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