Guest Post- Gina Reynolds- Impromptu for Life

My friend, Gina Reynolds, blessed us with this post. Being able to think on your feet is a life skill. However, it is a pet-peeve of mine… When competitors decide to compete in Impromptu- and they do NOT practice! Do not be one of those people who only participate in Impromptu at a Speech Tournament. In order to master this skill you need to practice. I would not allow my child or a competitor to compete in Impromptu (which is typically wait listed) unless they practiced. Gina gives great practical advice…

Impromtu For Life… By: Gina Reynolds

You know, I just love a good quote. Quotes can be great discussion starters, provide inspiration and be motivational. What’s more: they are perfect for practicing impromptu speaking.

One of my favorite quotes of all time, Robert Frost said, “Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” 

Why would you or your students want to practice Impromptu speaking? Simple answer: to develop better thinking and speaking skills. Actually, I have found it is an incredible way to develop strong thinking skills. Developing the speaking skills is just a bonus!

Practically speaking, thinking “on our feet” is a skill we all need in life. Have you ever been at a bridal shower and been called out by someone sweetly asking, “…would you give the blessing?” Quick, think! Or how about at a church prayer meeting when the pastor asks, “…would you mind sharing with the group how your Aunt Matilda is doing?” Wow, how do I begin? Maybe, it’s in a more formal setting, like a job interview where you get a question you hadn’t anticipated. You think, how do I answer this? All the while trying to think of a way to verbally stall without rambling!

So how do you practice impromptu speaking with your students or children? It’s simple. Find some “topics” and let them chose one to speak on (see the pdf below.) Then give them a short time, we use two minutes to “prep” for a (hopefully) 5 minute speech. At first it seems daunting, but the more they do it, the better they will get!

What should they do in their “prep” time? Write a bullet point outline. It’s just like writing a regular speech or paper. Have an intro, that hopefully catches attention. Move on to usually 3 main points, each with some sort of illustration or story to support it and finally conclude. This is not the time to write out complete sentences, but encourage words or short phrases that will jog their memory.

Now, put your paper down and give the speech. What? Put the paper down? Yes. Here’s another skill that can be developed through Impromptu speaking, visual recall.

Visual recall will become very important to students, especially if they move on to college. It’s the act of “seeing” what they wrote on the paper, actually visualizing it in their head. Writing notes also helps your brain remember it. It’s really interesting how just writing things down works, but I digress. If you want to know more check out this article on Why We Remember What We Write. Just the fact that your student wrote it down, even if they never look at the paper again, will help them remember their points and stories.

I must confess, I have been slacking. I’m on my last student in our homeschool and we haven’t been doing a lot of creative or fun things. Well this morning I did some long overdue “teacher prep” and made my daughter some new impromptu practice slips. She’s going to love them, they are Dr. Seuss quotes! One of her favorite quotes of all time is , “A persons, a person no matter how small.” Dr. Seuss. I’ve included a pdf download in case you want to use them too. We might as well make the learning fun!

Now, once you’re hooked on the benefits of Impromptu speaking it’s time to polish and hone your skills with us in the NCFCA (National Christian Forensics and Communications Association) and compete in Impromptu. More on that next time….

Gina Reynolds is the wife to Chris for 28 years and the homeschool mother to Logan (23), Taylor (20), Ariel (18) and Lexie (16). She enjoys encouraging and helping other homeschool moms by leading a local co-op, speaking at conventions and women’s events, vrepresenting Total Language Plus curriculum for the states of MI/IN/OH and IL, coaching speech and debate, and blogging on various subjects of interest to many homeschool families (