Impromptu. The word itself used to scare me. Why not play it safe and do informative and persuasive speeches? Aren’t I too old to start a new speech category?
For a long time, I stuck with this philosophy; playing it safe, until I felt that God was calling me to do something very bold, something completely out of my comfort zone and on my “never do” list….impromptu.
The first impromptu I ever did was at a practice tournament one year ago. I was a junior in high school. I spoke for approximately 5 minutes about the time when my brother accidentally hooked my dog’s leash onto the garage door and then…opened the garage. Yes, up went the dog with the garage. It was a funny story, everyone was laughing really hard, I told them the dog was completely fine, and then I ended my speech. I had absolutely no analysis, I am still unsure what my topic was, or if that story even related to the topic.
Even after this rather failed attempt at impromptu, I still felt that God’s plan for me was to keep trying. So, I did. Except this time, I did something different that truly changed everything. I prepared. I researched sample topics online and practiced and practiced. Everyday it was a new word, phrase, or quote. I found ways to incorporate personal examples, historical examples, and examples of people who are changing the world today. The first few speeches, well…they could’ve been better. However, as time went on, I noticed that each impromptu was getting better and better, until finally, I could do an impromptu speech with no preparation time at all. Truth be told, something that seemed so difficult and daunting became easier and actually a ton of fun!
Last year I made it to the final round at Nationals and placed 2nd in a speech category I thought was completely impossible to do.
And my favorite speech category today? Hands down, impromptu.
Due to the fact that impromptu is not prepared speech, it is an amazing way to see how God can speak through you. I will never forget one judge telling me, “Your speech was so Holy Spirit filled and exactly what I needed to hear, I felt that God was speaking directly to me, through you. Thank you.” Absolutely none of the credit goes to me for that speech, it all goes to Christ. He just called me to cooperate and get out of my comfort zone. To this day, each time I give an impromptu, I can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, almost as if the words aren’t mine.
If you’re like me, and limited preps scare you, just remember, I was there too. When I decided to get out of my comfort zone, God showed me that when I was weak, He was strong. When I thought I couldn’t, I could do all through Him Who strengthened me. What I thought was impossible, was possible through Him.
Who is impromptu for? Anyone. Is impromptu really worth it? Yes. Can you do it? Absolutely. And here are some tips to get you started:
1) Practice, Practice, Practice
Just because it’s a limited prep, does not mean it doesn’t require work. If you want to succeed in any speech, you must give it your time.This will not only increase your confidence but make your speech sound polished and professional.
There are plenty of sample topics online and plenty of examples to research from books you’ve read, people that have inspired you or even your own experiences.
Write all of your examples down on a list to look at before you walk into a round.
2) Come up with a compelling introduction
This could be a funny personal story, an example you’ve researched, a phrase, quote or Bible verse.
If you’re struggling to come up with an intro, take the statement or word you’ve received as your topic and create a question. For example, let’s say you get the topic “Why is loyalty important?” you could try something like, “When you think of the word ‘loyal’ what is the first thing that comes into your mind?”
3) Create a thesis
This is crucial for any speech. Have a thesis statement that your judges can remember. For example, for the previous topic, your thesis could be “the importance of loyalty in friendships” or “Evidence of God’s loyalty in the lives of His children.”
4) Tie your intro and conclusion together
You don’t have to do this, but I’ve found it very effective. You could conclude by saying something like “So what is the first thing you think of when you hear the word ‘loyal?’ I know for me, I think of Christ, and His everlasting loyalty when it comes to His love for His children.”
5) Focus on God
This is the most important part of any speech or anything we do. Ask God to help you while your giving your impromptu speech, pray before rounds, ask Him to direct your words, to open the judge’s hearts and minds to hear your message and to speak through you to everyone in the audience.
God really has a way of showing us that when we get out of our comfort zones for the sake of Christ, He will use us in ways that we could never imagine.
Yes, there will be impromptu speeches that won’t go so well. No, you may not get the hang of it right away, but wait on God. Keep practicing, keep praying, give it your all, and watch what He will do! Remember, You Got This… cuz He’s Got You!
Do you want to grow deeper in Impromptu? Annie Rogers will be hosting an Online Impromptu Class/Club starting Feb. 10. This is the perfect way to get extra tips, and the practice, practice, practice you need for success! Click HERE to sign up!