Impromptu Speech Examples: Effortlessly Think On Your Feet

Impromptu speech example

Impromptu speeches are given without much preparation time by the speaker. Ordinary people are called upon to present them whenever they introduce themselves to someone new or answer an open-ended question. Practicing impromptu speech examples will build self-confidence when you are called up to give one.

Need some impromptu speech examples to get you thinking about how to present one? While some of the most famous speeches in history were prepared in advance, all or part of many well-known ones were improvised on the spot. Even the most memorable parts of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech were impromptu.

To help you master the skill of impromptu speaking, we explore how and why you might have to make a last-minute speech and look at some of history’s most memorable impromptu speeches.

What is An Impromptu Speech?

Impromptu speaking is delivering a speech on a spur-of-the-moment topic with little or no preparation.

Public speaking can be daunting, especially when asked to speak off the cuff without prior preparation.

Impromptu speaking, however, is a crucial skill that can benefit anyone, from students to business professionals. It’s the ability to deliver a coherent message with little to no time to prepare.

Why Might You Have To Give One?

You might have to give an impromptu speech in various situations, such as when you’re asked to share your opinion or expertise on a topic in a meeting or conference.

In some cases, unforeseen circumstances may arise, and you may need to deliver a speech on short notice, such as when a scheduled speaker cancels. You may be in an interview and be asked an open-ended question.

Job interview - impromptu speech example

Lastly, impromptu speeches may be required as part of a public speaking course or competition to test your ability to think on your feet and communicate effectively.

How Should You Start An Impromptu Speech

When starting an impromptu speech, there are some things you should do and some things you should avoid.

Here are some tips on what to do and what not to do when starting an impromptu speech:


  • Take a moment to collect your thoughts and compose yourself.
  • Introduce yourself and provide some background or context to the topic.
  • State your main message or argument upfront to capture the audience’s attention.
  • Use an attention-grabbing opening, such as a quote, a question, or a personal story related to the topic.
  • Use a confident and enthusiastic tone to engage the audience.


  • Apologize for being unprepared or make excuses.
  • Ramble or go off-topic, which can confuse the audience.
  • Use filler words, such as “um” or “ah,” which can make you appear unprepared or unprofessional.
  • Speak too quickly, making it difficult for the audience to follow your message.
  • Use a monotone voice or lack enthusiasm, as this can cause the audience to lose interest.

When King was speaking at the 1963 March on Washington, he was delivering his prepared speech when his friend Mahalia Jackson shouted, “Tell them about the dream,” a concept King had spoken of privately, He then launched into the impromptu section that became a third of his speech.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream…”

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’

King’s famous words voiced his thoughts – the same process that anyone who gives an impromptu speech goes through.

If you are a techie who has been working on a project, you have the knowledge to explain aspects of it on the spot! You’d be wise to have a few thoughts ready to go!

Martin Luther King, Jr has impromptu speech examples built in

What Is The Best Outline For An Impromptu Speech?

When giving an impromptu speech, having a basic outline can help you organize your thoughts and deliver a clear message. Here are some simple steps you can use to structure your impromptu speech:

  1. Start by introducing yourself and the topic you’ll be discussing. Use an attention-grabbing opening, such as a quote, a question, or a personal story related to the topic. State your main message or argument upfront to capture the audience’s attention.
  2. The body of the speech is where you’ll provide the main points or arguments to support your message. Try to stick to three or four main points, and use examples or stories to illustrate your points.
  3. Summarize your main points and restate your main message or argument. End with a memorable closing statement that leaves a lasting impression on the audience.

Why is It Important To Know How to Give One?

Knowing how to give an impromptu speech is an essential skill that can benefit you in various situations in your personal and professional life. It shows that you can think on your feet and communicate effectively, increasing your confidence and credibility.

Impromptu speaking can help you stand out in a group discussion or job interview and can help you connect with your audience in a public speaking setting.

In summary, having the ability to deliver an impromptu speech can give you a competitive advantage and help you succeed in many aspects of life.

Examples Of Impromptu Speeches

Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom , King departed from his prepared speech and delivered an impromptu message that became one of the most famous speeches in history. Here are some other famous impromptu speeches.

Robert Kennedy’s speech upon the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. He threw away a presidential campaign stump speech he was expected to give and instead said:

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black. 

So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King — yeah, it’s true — but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love — a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.

RGK, 1968
Robert F Kennedy gave impromptu speech example after death of Martin Luther King, Jr

Sojourner Truth gave a famous extemporaneous speech at a Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio in 1861. There is debate whether some phrases in the speech were included at thw time or added later, but the message resounds.

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman?

Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman?

I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Sojourner Truth, 1861
Sojourner Truth impromptu speech at women's convention

Mr Jawaharlal Nehru, First Prime Minister of India, got a phone call telling him of a massacre in Lahore, part of the newly-formed Pakistan post-partition. At midnight, August 14, 1947, he delivered this speech.

How am I going to talk tonight? How am I going to pretend there is joy in my heart for India’s independence when I know Lahore, our beautiful Lahore, is burning?

Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.

Jawaharal Nehru, 1947
Nehru gave fine impromptu speech example after devastating Lahore massacre

Further Aspects Of Impromptu Speech Making

Good impromptu speech topics can include personal experiences, current events, or random topics given to you on the spot. When giving an impromptu speech, it’s important to maintain eye contact with your audience and use good body language.

It’s important to have a basic speech structure in mind, including an introduction, body, and conclusion. Use transitions to help your speech flow and avoid rambling or going off-topic.

Finally, always remember to practice and prepare as much as you can, even if it’s just by practicing in front of a mirror or watching examples of impromptu speeches on TV shows.

Extemporaneous Speeches

Extemporaneous speeches are another type of speech similar to impromptu speeches. These speeches are usually planned but require the speaker to think on their feet and adjust their speech based on the audience’s reactions.

When giving an impromptu speech, you may only have five minutes or even just one minute to prepare. This can be intimidating, but you can improve your improvisational speaking skills with practice. Toastmasters is a great organization that can help you improve your oratory and communication skills.

High school speech and debate competitions often include impromptu speech events. These events test students’ ability to speak on a random topic in front of an audience. Teachers may also ask students to give impromptu speeches to practice their speaking skills in class.

Adam Howarth

Adam covers the topic of Public Speaking for Digital Authority. From his first experience of oratory with his school debating society to his more recent experiences of promoting the local business scene in Wrexham, Wales, he has always been involved in public speaking.

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