O'Reilly logo

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

Impromptu

Book Description

Be Prepared to Lead in the Moment: Assess, think, and respond on-the-spot

Impromptu shows leaders how to think on their feet and respond eloquently in every situation. Never have there been so many opportunities to inspire and influence in everyday situations -- elevator chats, corridor conversations, networking gatherings, meetings, and ceremonial events. Indeed, today the most iconic leadership moments are spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment events that reveal the inner workings of the leader's mind. When these impromptu opportunities arise, leaders must be able to listen, think, and respond within seconds. They don't read a script from a page, they convey the narrative that is already in their mind. They can tailor a message—in a meeting, in the corridor, or in a tweet—to influence and inspire any audience. Those who shine in that moment are remembered for their leadership. Those who stumble are remembered for their gaffes, mixed messages, or insensitivity. Nobody remembers the leaders who retreat to their office, formulate a strategic plan, and distribute a memo the following week.

Guided by her entrepreneurial success as founder of The Humphrey Group and her firm's work with tens of thousands of leaders over the past 30 years, Judith Humphrey makes clear the importance of preparing to be spontaneous -- as counterintuitive as that may sound! Drawing upon the best impromptu moments from the Greeks to the present, the book looks at every aspect of impromptu speaking. You will learn how to:

  • Think like an impromptu leader
  • Quickly read an audience of one or a thousand
  • Collect your thoughts and craft a persuasive message
  • 'Script' yourself within seconds for any occasion
  • Avoid 'um's' and 'ah's' and use the right words at the right time
  • Discover improv techniques that will enable you to shine
  • Deliver your message with clarity, confidence, and conviction.

The ability to speak on the spot is often seen as an innate gift, a talent of 'natural-born' leaders. The truth is, it's a skill that can be learned—a skill that is quickly becoming a must-have for anyone in a leadership position. Impromptu provides clear, actionable guidance to help you reach your full leadership potential. It will enable you to influence and inspire followers on the many 'small stages' that define our daily lives.

Table of Contents

  1. COVER
  2. TITLE PAGE
  3. PROLOGUE
  4. INTRODUCTION
    1. What You Will Learn from This Book
    2. History's Great Impromptu Speakers Were Made, Not Born
    3. The Power of This Book
  5. Part I: The New World of Impromptu
    1. 1 The Rise of Impromptu Speaking
      1. The Glory Days of the Formal Speech
      2. The Three Reasons for the Rise of Impromptu Speaking
      3. Notes
    2. 2 Power of Spontaneity
      1. Abundant Opportunities
      2. Collaborating—Up, Down, and Across the Organization
      3. Faster, Better Decision‐Making
      4. A New Way to Get Close
      5. Being Real, Being Trustworthy
      6. Some of Your Best Lines
      7. Charismatic Leadership
      8. Notes
  6. Part II: The Impromptu Mind‐Set
    1. 3 Be Intent on Leading
      1. Pick the Right Time and Place
      2. Collect Your Thoughts
      3. Have Your Audience's Full Attention
      4. Have Something Valuable to Say
      5. Build a Relationship
      6. Be Face‐to‐Face
      7. Be Politically Sensitive
      8. Realize the Mic Is Always On
      9. Notes
    2. 4 Be a Listener
      1. Use Your Body—Listen Physically
      2. Use Your Head—Listen Mentally
      3. Use Your Heart—Listen Emotionally
      4. Notes
    3. 5 Be Authentic
      1. What Is Authentic Leadership?
      2. Strategies for Showing Authenticity
      3. Notes
    4. 6 Be Focused
      1. Information Overload in the Internet Age
      2. Focusing and the Art of Impromptu
      3. Notes
    5. 7 Be Respectful
      1. Respect Your Organization
      2. Respect Your Management
      3. Respect Your Colleagues
      4. Respect Yourself
      5. Notes
  7. Part III: The Leader's Script
    1. 8 Lay the Groundwork
      1. Great Speakers Prepare for Impromptu
      2. The Starting Point: Know Your Stuff
      3. Keep Leadership Messages in Mind
      4. Notes
    2. 9 Read Your Audience
      1. Reading Your Audience—In Advance
      2. Reading Your Audience—As You Speak
      3. Reading Your Audience—Afterward
      4. Note
    3. 10 The Scripting Template
      1. The Leader's Script Template
      2. Illustrating the Template
      3. Using the Leader's Script
      4. Scalability of the Leader's Script
      5. Notes
    4. 11 Commit to a Message
      1. Why Have a Message?
      2. Characteristics of a Message
      3. The Power of a Message: An Example
      4. Notes
    5. 12 Make a Compelling Case
      1. The Role of Structure
      2. Patterns of Organization
      3. The Power of Structure: Two Examples
      4. Notes
    6. 13 Beginnings and Endings
      1. Open with a Grabber
      2. End with a Call to Action
  8. Part IV: Impromptu Scripts for Every Occasion
    1. 14 Meetings
      1. Project Updates
      2. Briefings
      3. Sharing Ideas
      4. Collaborating
      5. Notes
    2. 15 Job Interviews, Networking, and Elevator Conversations
      1. Job Interviews
      2. Networking Events
      3. Elevator Conversations
      4. Note
    3. 16 “Just the Big Picture”
      1. We're Out of Time—What Not to Do
      2. Create Your Micro Presentation on the Spot
      3. Note
    4. 17 Toasts and Tributes
      1. Creating Winning Toasts and Tributes
      2. Robert Kennedy's Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr
      3. Notes
    5. 18 The Impromptu Speech
      1. One Compelling Idea
      2. A Perfect Example—Lou Gehrig's Farewell to Baseball
      3. Creating a Successful Impromptu Speech
      4. Notes
    6. 19 Q&A
      1. Getting Ready
      2. Developing Your Answer
      3. Two Examples
      4. Avoid the Traps
      5. Notes
  9. Part V: The Impromptu Stage
    1. 20 Rehearse Your Remarks
      1. Client Pitches
      2. Job Interviews
      3. Networking Events
      4. Q&A Exchanges
      5. Impromptu Speeches
      6. Difficult Conversations
      7. A Marriage Proposal
      8. Notes
    2. 21 Choose Your Words
      1. Be Clear
      2. Be Conversational
      3. Be Confident
      4. Be Collaborative
      5. Notes
    3. 22 Use Improv Techniques
      1. Why Improv Techniques for Leaders?
      2. Learning to Be “In the Moment”
      3. What Happens When You Are in the Moment?
      4. Cocreation—Improvising in the Moment
      5. Notes
    4. 23 Find Your Voice
      1. Begin by Breathing
      2. Ground Your Voice
      3. Strive for the Right Volume
      4. Adopt a Warm, Committed Tone
      5. Pace Yourself
      6. Notes
    5. 24 Master Body Language
      1. Stand and Sit Tall
      2. Lead with Gestures
      3. Use the Power of Your Eyes
      4. Put Your Best Face Forward
      5. Notes
  10. CONCLUSION
    1. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
    2. A Little Help from Our Unconscious Mind
    3. Notes
  11. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
  12. INDEX
  13. END USER LICENSE AGREEMENT