Seminar Presentation Skills: Tips for Making a Great Impact With Impromptu Speeches

You may, at one point, find yourself in the position of having to say a few impromptu words at your next meeting or seminar. An impromptu speech doesn’t have the benefit of being prepared, and in any case it shouldn’t sound as if it is prepared. However, you want to take advantage of your ever-growing seminar presentation skills, and further improve your public speaking skills. Our best public speaking coaching graduates use these two generic outlines to help them make an impact at meetings of all kinds.

Reporting on a Project:

Listeners and group leaders are looking for two things here: a progress report (even if there was no progress), and your reaction to it. You, as the presenter, want to be seen as an expert with something to say and the skill to say it well. So, try this short and simple approach to serve both needs.

Basic Outline:

1. Thank the chairperson for the request to speak on this exciting/important project/process/situation. Set a positive mood, and name the project in case the audience missed it.

2. Indicate that you are on top of the situation (“I just checked with the people on the ground/in the lab/team leaders, etc.”). While it may appear self-serving, the audience will be more attentive if listeners think you have the expertise and up-to-date knowledge.

3. Make a general comment about progress (“Things are going slowly/as projected/are ahead of schedule”). Then, give one or two quick details to back up your assertion. Note: As a rule, you should never say things are going “badly” unless you want input from the group, or want them to recommend cancellation. The group may only want an overall idea of what is happening. A few need specifics, so give some details to boost your credibility.

4. Conclude with an action-oriented comment: “I will bring you a further update next meeting,” “We appreciate your continued support for this project,” “Let us know if you have any further input,” “This project is ready. We challenge other team leaders to match our… ” etc. Your conclusion lets listeners know you are finished. It also gives you the opportunity to further any agenda you might have.

Commenting on an Issue:

This one requires only a little more homework because the audience will expect you, as the expert, to bring them not only a wider perspective of the issue, but also any up-to-date public or in-house reaction to it. The trap here is the time it takes to cover an issue with any depth. Hopefully, our suggestions for your format will help you make your point in a very short time.

Basic outline:

1. Thank the chairperson for asking you to speak on the critical/important issue of (name it). Set a positive mood, and name the project in case the audience missed it.

2. In half a sentence, say why the issue affects the group. You are basically telling them why they should listen. This means you will need to know why. Do it in half a sentence because time is very tight.

3. Indicate that you monitor the issue regularly by reading/on-site inspections/data collection, etc., and this is what you have learned. This reminds the audience that you have credibility, plus new information.

4. Give one or two sentences on how the issue impacts the overall community and especially the listening group. This is the meat of your message. Use your grammar skills to pack it into two sentences.

5. Indicate, with some documented backup, the trend you see evolving. This is where you show your expertise.

6. Conclude with a request to keep monitoring the situation, a request for input or assistance, or a promise to keep the group updated. Your conclusion lets listeners know you have finished. It also gives you the opportunity to further any agenda you might have.

While the details of your content will vary widely, for maximum impact in minimum time, stick strictly to the outline. If audience members have questions or comments, ask them to meet you later and discuss them. Next time you find yourself at a meeting or seminar, try these outlines to improve your seminar presentation skills. You will maintain your reputation as an expert in your field and as an expert presenter.

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