Secrets to Spontaneity in Speaking

Do you want to connect deeply with your audience? Great, then take advantage of the spontaneous moments that occur during your prepared speech. How?

Well, before we get into how, let’s look at why. Why should you use spontaneity in speaking? After all, this is supposed to be a prepared speech, right?

Why Use Spontaneity?

Here’s a secret the most effective speakers know.

Your audience wants to be heard too!

They don’t just want to be passive listeners, they want to be active participants. This is why they laugh out loud. It’s why they make comments. It’s why they look at you to see if you’re really seeing them. In other words, they want your speech to be a dialogue rather than a monologue. Doing so will make you the kind of speaker that builds a connection and then deepens it throughout the speech.  

How can you Use Spontaneity?

One of my favorite ways to use spontaneity is to ask a question, listen for the responses, and then comment on those responses. For example, listen to the following 1-minute live audio clip from a speech I gave in Bankstown, Australia.

[audio:|titles=Spontaneity in Speaking ]

Welcome back. Believe me, those spontaneous moments helped establish my connection with that audience and, throughout the presentation, thanks to more of those moments, that connection only grew deeper.

So how do you prepare to be spontaneous?

Use this quick 5-step process:

  1. Think of a question you can ask your audience that is not rhetorical
  2. Write down some of the responses you think you will receive. This will get easier overtime because you’ll actually be receiving responses and you can pick up the most common answers.
  3. Construct replies for their most common responses.
  4. Test your replies on your new audiences
  5. Tweak your replies until they become short and humorous (if you desire humor in that moment).

You will soon find yourself making comments that seem spontaneous even though they will  be prepared. Don’t get me wrong, many times you’ll simply find true spontaneity in the moment and the right words will come to you at the right time. However, once that happens, guess what? That same spontaneous moment becomes planned spontaneity for a future speech! By the way, that’s why it’s so important to record your speech every time. Remember “What gets recorded gets rewarded.”

When you record your speech this time, you’ll know what to say next time

What does it take to be Spontaneous?

It takes guts. You have to be willing to leave your mental script at times and go with the flow of your audience. Then you must be able to seamlessly transition back into the flow of your speech without losing momentum. That’s why it’s important to internalize your speech rather than memorize it. Remember your speech anchor for anchor or idea for idea or scene for scene rather than word for word. I don’t know anyone who memorizes a speech word for word and uses effective spontaneity.

Three Caveats to Using Spontaneity?

  1. Know when not to leave your speech in search of spontaneity. While there are many moments when it helps to jump on the spontaneity, there are some moments when you should not. For example, don’t leave a dramatic scene of your story in order to have a spontaneous conversation with your audience. That is a time when you should simply plug ahead with your speech, because you don’t want to relieve the story’s tension until you’re ready to relieve it. If it’s dramatic, keep it dramatic until you’re ready to bring us back up with humor. Make sense?
  2. Try not to use so much spontaneity that it keeps you from ever finishing your message. That’s a sacrifice that will leave your audience disturbed. I have seen that happen to a speaker recently.
  3. Don’t force it. The spontaneous moments will occur in every speech you give. You just have to look for them. It might be something someone in your audience says or does, or it might simply be a mistake you can turn into humor. However, don’t force it. If it’s not there, it’s not there.

I almost forgot 

Oh, and one last thing; not all spontaneity involves a verbal response. Sometimes the very best spontaneous moments you can have simply involve a smile, facial expression, or gesture that lifts up and lightens a moment.

Craig Valentine

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