What factors and context create an impactful impromptu speech?

Public speaking has always been a big part of my life. I always feel like I’m at home when I’m in front of an audience, presenting a speech I spent weeks editing, rehearsing, perfecting. However, something that I’ve struggled with is impromptu speeches. I was never able to grasp the concept of pulling together a structured speech and performing it within just a mere 2-7 minutes. Hence, for my final ZIP, I want to explore what factors and skills are needed to create an impactful impromptu speech.

I am motivated to focus on this topic for ZIP this year because during Effective Speaking last year I knew impromptu speeches were one of my weaker traits. However, with my other courses and extracurricular, working on those skills would always slip my mind. ZIP is the perfect opportunity to expand on my current knowledge on speech delivery and improve right before competition season because I will have dedicated school time to learn about something I am passionate for.

I will not be learning a new concept from scratch, I’ll simply be improving and adding on to my current knowledge. This is helpful because I already have a simple foundation and it’ll be easier for me to get into the flow of learning. I know the basics of delivering a speech and composing a persuasive speech structure. I also have experience doing impromptu speeches, so I know where my weaker areas are and have a general idea of what I need to work on. I would also like to work on keeping track of my learning. I tend to be messy and have a hard time recording all my learning on one document. Through ZIP, I wish to become more organized with my learning and keeping track of my knowledge.

Over the course of the next month, I want to be able to differentiate between the composure of a prepared and impromptu speech, as well as learn the most effective way to deliver a speech written in under 10 minutes. This process will also help me dust off my formal speech skills because although eminent has come and gone, I can’t do speeches as Coco Chanel forever. However, I do wish to take the feedback I’ve gotten from previous speeches and apply those to my ZIP project where applicable.

I plan on reaching out to Dr. Albert Seah, an SFU professor, for some help and advice. He’s been the mentor for Effective Speaking for the past three years and has helped with my public speaking skills immensely. I will also be doing a lot of research on my own using online sources. I might even involve my peers and get them to asses my progress by doing impromptu speeches with them, so I can see how others are perceiving my speeches.

To present my learning, I’ll pre-record me doing some impromptu speeches as the main artifact. Around that, I will create a trifold or poster showing the factors needed to present an impactful impromptu speech. Beside it, I’ll place a jar of impromptu topics and I’ll walk through my peers how I would attack the topic and compose the structure of the speech.


January 7-12: Learn about the differences between prepared speeches and impromptu speeches and the difference in composure/how to compose an impactful impromptu speech

January 14-19: work on the delivery of impromptu speeches, deliver a couple of impromptu speeches to some peers to hear feedback

Work on demonstration of learning in the background

January 21-25: film final impromptu speech, finish demonstration of learning

January 28/19: present!