Tips for Impromptu Performance
Unless you are doing it on a regular basis, improvisation and impromptu speaking can be a challenging skill to master. And, much like most special skills, if you don't use it, you lose it!
Here are some professional improvisation tips to supercharge your impromptu speaking skills.
Take the stage and take control
When you're given the spotlight, the pressure is laid on extra thick -- so, be prepared to bring your confidence and stage presence to the game! When someone "takes the stage," they own it. Their presence captivates and engages the audience making it impossible to take your eyes off them. Unfortunately, this is a skill that can only be achieved when you truly love being on stage, but luckily you can learn to love being in front of an audience. The remaining tips of this list will help you take control, another integral piece to kicking butt on stage.
Find windows of opportunity to speak
When you're not the only one presenting, effective impromptu speaking takes a lot of practice. As part of the presentation, conversation, meeting, or interview look for appropriate opportunities to speak. If your comment misses it's perfect place to land, jot it down and revisit the topic when the timing allows. If you are sharing the stage with another speaker or presenter, be aware of talking too much or not enough. Share the stage, don't hog it.
Have a strong start and finish
When your audience listens to you speak, they will likely mostly remember the beginning and conclusion of what you've said. Try your best to start and end confidently. Remember to speak clearly, make strong and genuine eye contact with people in the audience and avoiding looking down. Before you begin, start with a nice breath to calm your nerves and support the oxygen flow to your brain. Remain mindful of your breath through your presentation.
Buy yourself time and repeat the question
As knowledgeable as you may be about your topic, sometimes members of your audience may ask you questions that you don't know the answer to. For this, repeat the question back to buy yourself a few extra seconds to answer. This method will assist your brain with filtering an appropriate answer to put out. If you don't know the answer, it is okay to admit that. Don't lie to your audience if you don't know the answer. Instead, gain credibility by seeking out the information and follow up with the person individually.
Be 10 steps ahead
The easiest way to confidently and accurately deliver your information is plain and simple -- be prepared. Knowing your material in and out allows you to bust it out at any time. This is work that takes time backstage to prepare for. Being prepared allows you to speak at short notice. Try to prepare "go-to" answers/information that you can adapt to any situation, or memorize stats or research additional information that could add credibility.