Three Ways to be A Succesful Improptu Speaker

You are invited to an event. The initial plan is to attend as a participant; a cheerleader on the sideline. But, alas, the organizers recognize you, and consider that you deserve more than to be a random participant.

Then you are asked to give a speech, it might be giving welcome remarks, keynote speech, or closing remarks. What to do? You did not have anything up your sleeve!

For those of you who’ve been in that position; worry not, this time we will discuss some ways to survive the impromptu speaker trap. The following techniques are fairly standard so that they can be used in formal events, such as the opening of the seminar, event, meeting, or other ceremonial events. However, the techniques are also flexible enough for more casual speeches such as in birthday party, reunion or family gatherings.

There are at least three ways that we can use when somebody out of the blue asks us to give a speech. The simple impromptu techniques are easy to remember even with minimal preparation. The first technique is the “at the expense of others”, “back to the past “technique, and the last is “welcoming. ”

Let’s discuss them one by one.

 At the Expense of Others

It doesn’t mean you pass up the opportunity to someone else to deliver the speech. You are still going to be giving the speech, but what you are going to talk about other people, who are also there in the room.

Let’s assume when the seminar committee asks you to give a speech, you happen to be familiar with the keynote speaker, or with the chairman of the committee, or anyone else in the event for that matter. We can give a speech by revealing the person’s side that people may not know.

The sentences in brackets are my comments; you can say the line in italics. Please adjust it depending on your specific circumstances.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak here today. It’s an honor for me to speak before you. (The standard opening, you can add basic opening words such as “the honorable ” and so on , avoid apologizing , let alone informing everybody about your impromptu status) .

For me this event is impressive because we have here with us a person with a long story of struggle, Ms. Hesti, she is going to be the keynote speaker later in this event.  Among the many that you may not know, she failed in her 41 business endeavors, but she’s successful on her 42nd attempt. So I am convinced that what he would say is something very useful and with a strong foundation of experience. (Please find the relevant facts on the person associated with the theme of the event)

Or when we know the committee chairman very well:

I am sure this event will be beneficial for you because it is managed by someone with the experience in organizing qualified events, Mr. Sufyan. You may already be familiar with a few of his works such as training on science writing, workshop on effective reports , and so forth, all with satisfactory results, they can be the evidence that he will give his best shot to make you get the most out of this event . I am convinced this event will be a success and give a positive impression to us all.

This technique is appealing because not only it will direct the listeners’ attention to you as a speaker, but also to others. It also makes the participants get to know the people as you discuss the person’s profile and make a positive impression on the overall event.

Back to the Past

“Wow, I don’t know anyone on the event.”

If this is the constraint, try this second way to take on request. It can be as simple as telling everybody how you decided to attend the event. People love story, and you can share one of your personal stories to make the participants empathize with you. The following are the examples:

The first time I got the information about this event was through an email from my colleague. I attend many events like this and not too interested at first. But then I noticed this event takes much longer than any similar training. It got me, what takes it so long?

It turns out they will have in-depth discussion more depth compare to the ones I have been so far. It intrigued me and I decided to attend this event. For those of you who also decided to attend today, I congratulate you, because you’ve chosen event with more in-depth and complete discussion.

Apply this on a less formal activity:

When I just finished a meeting, I unexpectedly received a call from an unknown number. I do not usually answer a phone call from an unknown number, but, for some reason I felt like answering it. Turned out it was Ryan, informing this event.

I immediately said yes. I had wanted to come to a reunion like this. I was not expecting many would’ve come, but the turnout far exceeded my expectations.

At first I imagined of meeting with classmates from SMAN 8 Bandung. Remembering the stories we went through, as well as to reestablish the relationship. Who knows, we might be doing something in the future together.

With this technique, the participants can relate to us as a speaker because they also went through strings of considerations before finally making a decision to come. What we say will confirm their good decisions to come. They would feel comfortable to participate in the event.


We are requested to give a welcoming speech to, of course, welcome guests. So, we simply have to welcome guests. Check the attendance, thank them for coming, give them a warm welcome, and then proceed with core program. The following is the example:

Welcome to the Vertical Hotel for Public Speaking Seminar held by PT Bina Insan Performance, thank you for taking your time to come here from various parts in Indonesia. Just now I learn that some of you come from Surabaya, Balikpapan, Malang, and many more.

Please raise your hand if you come here all the way from Surabaya (Raise your hand as an example, and wait for the response, observe those who raise their hands )

Anyone from Malang? (Raise your hand as an example, and wait for the response, observe those who raise their hands)

Bali ? (Raise your hand as an example, and wait for the response, observe those who raise their hands. You can repeat the process for several places with the most attendance)

It’s a pleasure to meet you all who have come here all the way from across Indonesia. We hope during this event the committee can provide you the best service to make you feel comfortable. Should you find any inconvenience, we hope you can just inform the committee in charge, so it can be addressed immediately.

Before we begin the event, let us prepare ourselves to get the most out of this event.

This technique will make the participants feel “welcomed”. It’s good for boosting the morale of the participants, especially those from distant places who taken a long time to attend.

Well, those are three tips you can use when being suddenly asked to be impromptu speaker. So no more feeling nervous and worried when anyone approaches us and says “Excuse me, is it possible for you to give a speech?”

ervan abu

Ervan Abu Nangim

Alumni of Faculty of Psychology, University of Padjadjaran, CEO of PT. Performance Bina Insan, Public speaker, trainer, and manager Ervan ‘s Lair blog (


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