Despite its innate brevity, a one-minute speech can feel like an eternity if you are not well prepared. Unlike their longer and more formal counterparts, one-minute speeches are a fun way to break routine while practicing and reinforcing public speaking skills.
If your teacher has not assigned a specific topic for your speech and you are feeling overwhelmed about deciding what to talk about, stick to a topic that you are genuinely interested in talking about. The more enthusiastic you are about a topic, the easier it will be to deliver an effective speech about it. Speaking from the heart about an issue that matters to you is key to mastering impromptu speech topics.
Benefits of Mastering Impromptu Speeches
A one-minute speech is usually also an impromptu speech for which you have little to no preparation time. Teachers and professors often use impromptu speech activities to help students prepare for future situations where they might be expected to think on their feet either in their personal or professional lives. From making a toast at your best friend’s wedding to briefing colleagues on new developments during a meeting at work, the ability to speak in front of others on a variety of subjects is an important skill to have in your toolbox.
Impromptu Speech Topics
If you’re lucky, you might have a general idea of the topic for your speech and at least some knowledge of the audience to which you will deliver it. Either way, you can prepare for the possibility of impromptu speeches by picking topics you would enjoy talking about and rehearsing what you might say about those topics.
Abstract objects often make good impromptu speech topics. Take love, peace or joy for example. You could deliver a speech about something or someone you love or an activity that brings you peace or joy. For a more reflective approach, you could bring up an example of when you were not so loving, at peace or joyful, and then show how that situation evolved.
Monuments and landmarks also make effective public speaking topics because if you know enough about a landmark, you can talk about why people might want to go there, or what kind of cultural significance it has. There are so many possibilities for impromptu speech topics. You can explore the popularity of junk food, discuss strategies for goal achievement or analyze the effect of media on popular opinion. Whatever topic you choose, think beyond the surface level and try to find the deeper meaning in it or put a humorous spin on it if appropriate.
Tips for Preparing One-Minute Speeches
Since you never get a second chance to make a first impression, having a few one-minute speeches at your disposal can serve you well both personally and professionally. Think about topics that interest you and mentally rehearse short speeches about those subjects.
If you had to spend one or two minutes talking about an activity that you love, what would it be and what would you say? Think about humorous experiences you’ve had or memorable moments that you wouldn’t mind publicly sharing. Rehearse the speech in your mind or write it down. You can record yourself giving the speech, and then play it back or deliver it to a friend and ask for feedback. Practice is key. The more you practice one minute and impromptu speeches, the better you'll do when faced with a situation where you must speak in public with little or no preparation.
Speech Prompts to Consider
Any topic that you are comfortable with and knowledgeable about makes a great topic for an impromptu speech. Whatever topic you choose, speak clearly and confidently. Vary your pitch and volume to emphasize points and make eye contact with your audience. Some ideas:
- Your favorite place
- Your least favorite place
- A concert
- The internet
- Pay phones or cell phones
- Advertising and consumerism
- The importance of a sense of humor
- The importance of an education
- How cat memes are taking over the internet
- Whitman College: How to Give a Speech
- Write Out Loud: Speech Topics
- Write Out Loud: One-Minute Speeches
- Teachers with Apps: 1-Minute Speech: A Universal Tool for All Teachers
- Business Know-How: How to Think on Your Feet: Seven Steps for Successful Speaking On The Spot
- The Essay Club: Impromptu Speech Topics
- Forensics Community:Topics About Objects
- Forensics Community: Impromptu Prompts
Kristina Barroso earned a B.A. in Psychology from Florida International University and works full-time as a classroom teacher in a public school. She teaches middle school English to a wide range of students from struggling readers to advanced and gifted populations. In her spare time, she loves writing articles about education for TheClassroom.com, WorkingMother and other education sites.