Few activities in the business world are as all‐consuming as meetings. Studies show that “busy professionals” attend more than sixty meetings every month1 and spend approximately 40 percent of their time in meetings.2 CEOs spend a full 85 percent of their time in meetings of various sorts, including scheduled and unscheduled meetings, brief encounters, conference calls, and networking events.3 Put another way, top executives spend only 15 percent of their time alone not speaking with anyone.

You as a leader have a wonderful opportunity to influence and inspire in these meetings. Listen attentively, build upon the ideas of others, and when you speak, take time to collect your thoughts—even amid the cross fire that often takes place in meetings. You will not only be bringing better thinking, better decisions, and better attention “to the table,” but you will be creating a profile of yourself as a leader day in and day out.

The examples in this chapter will show you how to craft your impromptu remarks for common meeting scenarios. The remaining chapters in Part IV of this book discuss how to create scripts for job interviews, networking events, elevator chats, toasts and tributes, informal speeches, and Q&As. In all these settings, the not‐so‐hidden secret of success is preparation.

Let's look at four common types of impromptu speaking in meetings.

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