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In all such cases, follow these suggestions:
1. Without in any way naming any person as blameworthy tell the general reason for your appearance.
"Ladies and Gentlemen: You have come to see a comedy. Most astonishing, you and I are all playing parts in a very comic comedy. The name of the comedy in which we are acting is 'The Lost Actors, or the Play without Players.' Some of our leading characters have not arrived."
You have now satisfied the curiosity of the assemblage, and, by your words, have somewhat restored good humor. You have not even intimated that anyone is to blame.
2. Continue with fantastic or humorous explanations adapted to the occasion.
"Is it possible that the leading theatrical managers of the country have made a conspiracy and abducted our extraordinary amateurs? Has the love making of the play proved so effective that our characters have eloped? Or has stage fright overcome our bashful ladies and gentlemen?" (Carry foolery of this sort to any length that you please, but do not blame anyone, and, above all, do not cast ridicule upon any one.
3. Tell whatever humorous anecdotes may be appropriate.
4. If you have to speak at length, in order to fill time, turn the subject to some theme that is in no sense controversial, and speak on that theme.
"Now you see why it is that we are playing parts in a comedy. We still have some minutes to wait. Let me take this time to speak of the work our people have done in the past year. (Follow with details that will compliment the audience.)
5. If you do not have to speak at length, end your speech with a simple announcement.
"In the meanwhile the orchestra has agreed to play some special music, to which I invite your attention."
Think out the words of a speech in which you announce that the club dinner will be served after a delay of about fifteen minutes.
How to Speak Impromptu
KEY WORDS: IN GIVING AN IMPROMPTU SPEECH CENTER ALL THOUGHT ON ONE CENTRAL THESIS.
At some time when you are not expecting it you find yourself called upon to make a speech.
More than you know may depend upon the appearance that you make.
If you are a poor speaker you will do one or more of the following:
1. Make excuses.
2. Say that you are taken at an unfair advantage.
5. Speak incoherently.
6. Say a word or two and sit down conscious of failure.
Here are some suggestions how to speak in such a time:
1. Say nothing whatever about your surprise at being called upon.
2. Say nothing whatever about not being prepared.
3. Speak quietly and modestly.
4. Begin by telling some appropriate humorous anecdote. In your note book that you always carry with you, you should have a list of several anecdotes for use on just such occasions. The moment you perceive that you aie likely to be called upon, refer quickly to one of these anecdotes. Then, when you are named as the next speaker, you will apparently speak without the slightest preparation.
5. Turn your attention immediately to some one serious thought appropriate to the occasion. You may take a new phase of any thought that has been already discussed at the time, but it will be better, perhaps, to take a new thought altogether.
(a) Present your thought as a definite thesis, or statement. "I have always believed that genuine brotherhood is the mark of our order."
(b) Follow your thesis by giving one or two examples that illustrate it. "Last year I met two illustrations of the spirit of brotherhood that characterizes our order." (Tell about these cases in detail. You will hold full attention.)
(c) Conclude your speech by giving added emphasis to your principal thesis. "Gentlemen, there is not the slightest doubt that, wherever you go, a high spirit of brotherhood is the mark of our order."
By following these simple suggestions you give no evidence of surprise, or of lack of preparedness. You speak naturally and easily.
Furthermore, by centering all your attention, and that of your hearers, on one thought, you give a marked impression of strength.
Thus you make your speech a full success and gain the well-deserved reputation of being an easy and a fluent speaker.
Think out an impromptu speech that you might give if called upon suddenly in any body that you are accustomed to attend.