Today I want to explore how you can wing it and how you can get up and give a speech without preparation. These are tips that I’ve learned over the years from my experiences in winging it.
My experiences in winging it
My first experience in delivering a public speech without preparation was when I was in Year 12. I spontaneously decided to run for school president and wrote a speech the night before.
But as I sat there listening to my opponents speeches I realised … My speech was awful! I’d be laughed off the stage if I got up there and I delivered the speech that I’d written.
So in that moment I decided to scrap my speech and wing it.
I stumbled. I fumbled. I had heaps of long pauses and made an awkward joke that people should vote for me because I’m sexy. The speech was, quite frankly, terrible.
But then we come forward a few years to my wedding reception. As the groom I obviously had to give a speech. I gave myself a week to prepare and do my research. What do I do? How did I prepare for a speech for a bridal presentation?
There were the traditional things. You need to thank the mother and father of the bride. You need to thank the bridesmaids and your friends for being there. I got that down pat.
But how do I deliver this speech in a way that’s going to be fun and engaging? With the stress of the wedding – and the fact that I was learning the Napoleon Dynamite dance to do after the speeches (see video of me dancing below) – I really didn’t have the time to prepare and write something heartfelt.
So once again I decided to wing it. But in this situation it actually worked in my favour. I delivered what I consider to be an excellent speech. It was a funny and heartfelt and well delivered speech that I remember fondly.
I now work as a pharmacy trainer and sales representative. Every single day I have to speak to people about the company that I work for and give business advice and trainings.
And the more you do something, the more likely you are to change it to get a better result. So here are my three tips on how you can get better results when delivering an unprepared public speech.
Tip#1: Prepare a strong introduction
I know I said that this is how to deliver a public speech without preparing. But one thing I think you should prepare is a good introduction.
An introduction will either set your speech up for success or for failure. A poor introduction that doesn’t engage the audience will likely lose all attention.
But a strong and engaging introduction will have your audience leaning in and listening. They’ll be ready to be entertained and ready to learn.
Having a strong introduction is paramount to winging it.
I recommend that you prepare some introductions in your mind beforehand. Have four or five introductions that you can run with in most situations.
Tip#2: Use lots of stories
I started this article with stories. I talked about Year 12 and my failure at winging it. I talked about my wedding reception where I did quite well.
Stories can engage the audience so easily. Humans are almost designed to listen to stories.
It’s how we teach and how we conduct our everyday conversations.
So avoid giving a lecture and talking about facts and figures when you’re winging it. Try and use stories to get the audience’s attention and to illustrate the core message that you want to convey.
Tip#3: Be confident in yourself
The idea of winging it is that you go up and speak but you don’t let the crowd know that you haven’t prepared anything.
The crowd doesn’t know that you’re winging it and – more importantly – they don’t care.
All they want is to be entertained and potentially to learn something. You could have worked on this speech for a day or a week or a month or not at all. They won’t actually care how much preparation you’ve done.
Being confident in yourself will allow you to deliver your message and engage the audience more easily.
Never inform your audience that you haven’t prepared. Never apologise in advance for the fact that you’re winging it.
Get up there and be confident in yourself.
And those are my three tips on how to deliver a public speech without preparation. Head out there and wing it and be awesome.