On the Spot!
Impromptu Speaking 101
Patrick Barton – Professor of Speech
What is impromptu speaking?
• Short speeches
• Very little preparation
• No time for practice
• Great for toasts, meetings (HOA, city council,
etc.), and workplace situations (staff meetings,
• Everybody has done it!
And now, a quick speech!
• Somebody give me an “idea” word: like freedom, happiness,
• What is structure?
• Why structure?
• How to perfect it?
• Attention Getting Device (AGD) >>> Tell a story
• What’s In It For Me (WIIFM) Statement >>> Why should the
• Thesis >>> A single, simple sentence that sums up your entire
• Preview of Main Points (POMP) >>> Summarize what you’re going to
• Main Point >>>
• Simple, short, full sentence summarizing
• Answers the question “Why is my thesis true?”
• After creating the sentence, create a one-word tag for transitioning
• Transitions >>> moves you between main points
• Review of Main Points (ROMP) >>> Summarizes what you talked
• Closer >>> A finishing line that closes off your speech
So your speech looks like this…
5. Main Point 1 + supporting material
7. Main Point 2 + supporting material
9. Restate Thesis
NOTE: You would have more main points and transitions as
In what order do you create the speech?
1. First your thesis
2. Second your WIIFM
3. Third your Main Points and Supporting Material
4. Fourth your AGD and Closer
5. Fifth your POMP/ROMP/Transitions
6. Finally, put it back in order!
So, let’s practice!
• Question: What is your favorite type of food?
• Step One: Write a thesis
• Step Two: Come up with a WIIFM
• Step Three: Come up with two main points (full sentences!)
then shorten those main points into one word “tags”
• Step Four: Come up with a story for your AGD/Closer
• Step Five: Use your “tags” to make PoMP, RoMP and
• Step Six: Put it all back together
So, let’s practice on your own!
• Question: What is your favorite restaurant
So, let’s practice again!
• Question: What is your favorite place to
A way to practice on your own
• Take ANY word – create a speech around it
• The “word” goes in your thesis
• Great way to practice! The most important part of
impromptu speaking is simply getting your brain to the
point where it can very quickly create a speech!
So we near the end of this
• Time for a shameless plug!
• I’m in a production of Arsenic
and Old Lace at the Houston
Family Arts Center
• Final weekend of shows!
• Tonight and tomorrow at
• Sunday at 3pm
• HoustonFAC.com for tickets
• Say “hi” after the show!