Speaking off the cuff – a resource

You often hear me speaking about the value of impromptu speaking, and why learning to speak off the cuff is as important as learning to speak prepared.

Here is a great resource; an entire website dedicated to the art of “table topics”, or speaking impromptu.What I like about the site is  that he gives you a lot of templates, or outlines you can use for practising unprepared topics.

Here is an example:

Split Personality

Number of participants: Two

The majority of the information we convey doesn’t come from what we say, but from how we say it. Bodily gestures are a large part of this. The goal of this template is to separate these different aspects of communication between two people. One participant does the talking, the other does the gesturing.

There are two ways to use this template. Either one participant talks, and the other creates the corresponding gestures, or one uses gestures, and the other talks about what the gestures are indicating.

Doing this effectively requires a reasonable amount of cooperation from the participants. It can weaken the delivery if both participants end up gesturing (once you do it, it can be a difficult thing to put down temporarily!). This should possibly be made clear to the participants.

It’s interesting to see the different ways people can take this, sometimes you may have one participant controlling the flow of the entire topic, while others will work together to figure out how the talk or story will evolve.

The purpose of this template is to give people the chance to carefully consider what their gestures are saying to an audience.

Thanks to Andrew William’s for creating the resource.

PowerPoint Karaoke?

Here is an interesting technique that will both improve your thinking skills, and provide an unusual form of entertainment: PowerPoint Karoake. Basically, you have to present an impromptu PowerPoint presentation. From how I understand it, you are given a deck of slides, and you need to present an unprepared presentation using the slides (also known as Battle Decks).

You have to deliver a PowerPoint presentation about an unfamiliar topic, with slides you’ve never seen, to an audience eager to heckle and laugh at you. If you’re in your underwear, you’re having a nightmare. If you’re clothed, it’s called PowerPoint Karaoke

This is serious business, there are loads of prizes, including a grand prize of $5000. Unfortunately, the contest is only available to USA and Canada residents, but I still think that it could be quite a fun event to host anyway.

If you look on YouTube, there are over 125 different PowerPoint karaoke video’s, here are a couple that I enjoyed.

See you on the stage.