3C – Impromptu Speaking and Dealing with Questions from the Audience

Impromtu Speaking Tips

Many of us feel more pressure to create content on-the-fly than we would if we have time to prepare. However, when we are put on the spot, there is a simple three-step-process that you can use to both clarify your thoughts and persuade you audience at the same time. We call this process the I. A. B. formula.

  • I – INCIDENT or Story related to the question.
  • A – ACTION or ADVICE that you want the audience to take. (The moral of the story.)
  • B – BENEFIT that the audience will receive if they take the action.

Remember that examples help us persuade audiences, so if we are asked to speak on an impromptu basis or if someone interrupts our speech with a question, it is best to respond with an example or story. If you have trouble coming up with stories, try one of the following triggers:

That reminds me of the time… or Let me give you an example…

The human brain is a phenomenal hard drive that stores every incident that you have ever experienced. However, the brain also has a set of filters that organizes these thoughts for us. The triggers above help by-pass these filters, so that you can come up with incidents related to the topic at hand.

Of course, though, the best way to organize an impromptu speech is to do it well ahead of time. Anticipate questions that your audience might ask and have answers prepared. This will help you avoid being put on the spot.

What Questions are People Likely to Ask You About Your Current Presentation?

In the blanks below, come up with a couple of questions that your audience may ask you about your presentation. Then, think about how you might answer that question (what ADVICE would you suggest about that question). If someone took this advice, what BENEFIT would they receive. Finally, try to think of a specific INCIDENT or story where someone actually did what you are suggesting and received that benefit. If you have trouble coming up with a specific incident, read your advice out loud and say, “That reminds me of the time…” You will likely come up with a great example.

The combination of the INCIDENT, ADVICE, and BENEFIT is a powerful way to answer any question.

Use the form below to prepare a response for each question. To prepare responses for multiple questions, just come back to this page and re-complete the steps each time.

Assignment: After preparing a few questions, have a co-worker ask you a question. When you respond, start with an incident or example, then give your advice and benefit. You will be surprised how easy the process will be (even for questions that you haven’t prepared for) after practicing a few times.