Mark Twain once said "I … never could make a good impromptu speech without several hours to prepare it." Which then makes one wonder how one prepares in the first place. After all improv is spontaneous right? You don`t need to practice for that, right?
Well, I did a quick search on the Google and as you can see I got about 9,250,000 results on the topic. It seems people do really care about giving a good impromptu speech. Topics like:
How to Give an Impressive Impromptu Speech
How to Ace the Impromptu Speech
or the even more interestingly titled
Academic Decathlon Impromptu Speech
I wonder what like one is like?
Anyway, If you searching for a framework to answer a question smoothly, TMI often suggest P.R.EP.
It is a fairly straight forwards and very western approach to answering the question. You give a point (any one that comes to mind will do). You then give a reason for it. (Any reason will do, even an absurd one) The come up with an example (that you may have made up on the spot). And finally repeat your point.
Very simple right. Except that it tends to be very hard to do. Most of us need a full minute just to come up with a coherent point. But, that really isn`t the major problem
First Major Problem: The Feeling of "I am not ready!"
Solution: A) Get Ready B) Don`t Care
Essentially, Impromptu is done with little preparation. We have to give it in front of people and we are afraid of looking stupid in front of others and in front of ourselves. This causes stress, stress causes to focus, which can really hurt you creativity when you are searching for something good to say.
People, this is not an ideal situation to come up with something witty. You know it. I know it.
So, if you cannot immediately come up with something good to say, then keep going. If it turns out "meh" then that is ok, too. It is not like the people there will remember your speech for the very rest of your life and remind you about how mediocre it was at every opportunity. That is what your panicking mind is telling you. Ignore it. Instead remember the forgetting curve.
The forgetting curve tell you that people will forget half of what you said after a certain period, and that continues until they completely forgotten that they have even met you. Well, maybe not that far.
In any case the sometime the best strategy is simply to not care. You had no time to prepare. You had very little practice in the art of impromptu. So, what could you have done? Nothing, but your best. So don`t beat yourself up over it.
The next thing you really could do is prepare. How? By keeping a notebook or paper, or Evernote, or another iPhone app, or whatever. And write down a question or topic and then write down different ways you could address it. If you find something you like circle it.
Now, you might not required to give an impromptu speech any time soon, but there is plenty of impromptu conversation. So, it is in situation like those where you and practice your material to see if it works.
For example, suppose ask you where would be a good place to see cherry blossums
Most likely the first couple of ideas would be Ueno Park, or Meguro River, or some other well known spot. If you thought about some more, you may come up with some good ideas. I would suggest brain storming some good spots even if you have not been there. You might even suggest Kuhonbutsu or Kinshicho Park or even Sendaiborigawa Park.
It doesn`t really matter what you suggest, just a long is something different from the usual suspects and also that you have an interesting reason for it.
However for most people you need time to come up with a bunch of ideas. You also need some time to try them out. So, take the time to write ideas down. Talk about them with others and you will get better at preparing for an impromptu speech.
And if you can`t find the time, the take comfort in accepting things as they are and that most people will probably forget a forgettable impromptu speech.