How To Give a Presentation When You are NOT Prepared? [Top 10 Tips]

Are you one of the many people who have found themselves in a situation where they are giving an impromptu presentation? How do you handle it when you are unprepared for the presentation that is being demanded of you? How can I give a successful, persuasive speech if I am not prepared?

Sometimes it can happen that we are called upon unexpectedly. Maybe someone has asked for a favor or perhaps your boss asks you to give an impromptu speech because he/she did not have time to prepare either. Many of these presentations will fall on people who may never have had any practice in public speaking and certainly never gave one when they were unprepared. 

But there is Good News!

Give a Presentation When You Are NOT Prepared!

There are ways to be effective if you find yourself unprepared for your next presentation. In this article, we will discuss 10 impromptu skills and give some tips on how to use them in your next speech!

1. Stay Calm 

How To Give a Presentation When You are NOT Prepared? Stay Calm

One of the most important things you can do in any presentation, impromptu or not, is to stay calm. Take a deep breath and remember that you are capable of doing this. Chances are, your audience is just as anxious as you are so they will be happy to see that you're taking things in stride.

2. Plan How to Start

One of the most important parts of any presentation is how you start it. How an audience responds in these opening moments greatly impacts their perception of what they are about to see, so make sure yours starts off strong!

Start with a few questions like, “ How many people here know what the word ___ means?” or “How many of you have experienced this problem before?” Then answer those questions and build your presentation around them to make it more interesting for everyone involved.

Another option could be to introduce a statistic or story that will grab their attention, or simply state your thesis and give a brief overview of what you plan to cover.

3. Speak with Confidence

How To Give a Presentation When You are NOT Prepared? Speak with confidence! This is easier said than done, but it's important to remember that your feelings of anxiety or unease will not be apparent to your listeners if you move forward fearlessly and speak with conviction. Believe in yourself and take pride in what you are doing.

Be passionate about what you’re talking about! The more enthusiastic you are, the better reception by others people will receive regardless of how prepared or unprepared you are.

3. Be Concise 

One of the biggest problems with impromptu speeches is that time is often not on your side. This means that you need to be concise in your words and make sure each point you make is valuable to your audience. This may require some practice, but it's well worth it in the end.

Being concise will help you to be mindful of time! If you know how much time you have for your presentation, it will help to stay on track and not bore people with too much detail.

4. Take Pauses

How to give a presentation when you are not prepared? Pause

Another way to appear more confident is to take pauses in your speech. Since you didn't have anything prepared, this will give you time to gather your thoughts and also make it seem like you are in control of the situation.  

5. Use Gestures 

Gesturing is a great way to help keep your audience engaged, and it also makes you appear more animated and enthusiastic. However, make sure that your gestures are natural and don't distract the audience from what you are saying.

6. Use Humor

A great way to connect with your audience is by using humor, but be careful not to go too far off-topic. If you can find a way to inject some humor into your presentation, it will help keep things light and make the experience more enjoyable for everyone involved.

7. Be Vulnerable

One of the most important things about impromptu speeches is that they are often very personal and emotional for those who give them. They speak from a place of vulnerability, which automatically makes the audience more receptive to what you have to say. So don't be afraid to let your guard down and share something personal with your listeners.

Make sure that you leave time at the end for Q&A because if no one has any questions about your topic then they probably were not engaged in what you had to say anyway which is why we would be giving an impromptu speech in the first place!

8. Leave time for feedback

How to Give a Speech when you are not prepared? Ask for Feedback

And at the end of your talk, make sure you let people share their thoughts on what they just heard. If there are no questions about that topic then try to engage them by asking for feedback! This is a great method in delivering a presentation we didn't prepare for because it accomplishes two things:

  1. It demonstrates that we value the thoughts of our audience
  2. It allows the audience members to do the talking for us since we don't have a script:)

9. Don't Forget About Body Language

The most engaging public speakers are those who understand the power of body language. Hand gestures, eye contact, and posture all play a vital role when communicating with an audience- but it may be difficult for some people to comprehend how important these nonverbal cues truly can be!

The tone of your voice shouldn't change just because you're speaking in front of other human beings; remember that hand movement will help keep everyone interested while showing off enthusiasm through passion- so make sure not forget them!!

10. Follow the "Thirty-Second Prep" Rule

Todd Dewett, Ph.D., Instructor of "Impromptu Speaking" online course thru Linkedin learning has a great "Thirty-Second Prep" rule that is effective in teaching how to give a presentation when you are not prepared. Here are the four main points for preparing an impromptu speech or presentation in 30 seconds:

  1. Introduction (Why are we here? What will we learn in this presentation?)
  2. Two or three main points of the presentation
  3. Conclusion (This is what we accomplished! Here is the summary!)
  4. Call to action (What would you like your listeners to do next?)

Always Be Prepared, Even When Your NOT!

After giving many presentations both planned out and unprepared, I’ve found these ten tips to be very successful for me each time. Hopefully, they will work just as well for you the next time you find yourself in an impromptu presentation situation!

For more resources to develop your public speaking skills while you are in the comforts of your own home, take advantage of the many online resources. Please check out the article ‘Online Resources for Public Speaking‘ and 'Where Can I Learn Public Speaking' for a detailed review of some online resources for public speaking and please leave a comment below with tips you have for giving presentations unprepared.

Share them with us in the comments below and help others who may be struggling in this same situation! Thank you for reading. 🙂


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    Posted in  Presentation Tools and Topics   on  December 14, 2021 by  Dan W ,   How To Give a Presentation When You are NOT Prepared? [Top 10 Tips]

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