One of the keys to being able to ramble out a good, solid off-the-cuff or spontaneous speech is introspection – and lots of it.
The purpose behind this introspection isn’t to indulge in endless navel-gazing. That’s what Facebook and Instagram are for. This self-reflection is to develop an acute awareness of your values, your personal drivers, and your thoughts on life, the universe, and everything.*
When making spontaneous speeches, we need to rely on tidbits of information that we hold in our head. There isn’t time to ponder and compose an answer, and we may be lacking data critical to making an informed argument. We can, however, always give our opinion on matters. This is where the introspection comes in: if we spend time thinking about how our own brain works, we can address subjects from a personal angle. This may not result in a speech with heavy hitting evidence and data to back up your opinion, but it will result in something (relatively) thoughtful. You can speak to how you think about the topic or situation, about what affects your views and opinions, about how it relates to your own context. And – prize of prize – you can do so with sincerity because you are ultimately revealing a part of yourself to your audience, and you take the time to think about yourself and your context.
Speaking is about sharing. We don’t always have the luxury of being able to share facts, but we can always share a piece of ourselves. But in order to share ourselves, we must understand ourselves first.
If you want to be interesting, you must be interested.
Be interested in everything; be interested in current events, in culture, in daily life. Be interested in new ways of doing things, in activities you’ve never tried, in subjects you don’t know much about.
Definitely be interested in the people you are talking to. The more interested you are about them – the more questions you ask them and the more opportunity you give them to tell their story – the more interested they’ll be in you. They’ll wonder why it is that you are so interested in them, why you are giving them the precious gift of time and attention. They’ll start to wonder about you, ask you questions in turn, and remember you in greater detail.
The key is to make this interest genuine. It may seem next to impossible to display real interest in something you find really dull, but usually there is at least a silver thread of fascination in just about any topic. If you find yourself having difficulty finding a subject interesting, drill down into it and find some way that it affects you on a personal level. If the person you are talking to is desperately boring, ask them questions and then ask more questions for every answer until they reveal some odd or delightful nugget. The fact that the interesting nugget is unexpected will make it even more interesting. If you are having trouble finding some glimmer of interest in that person, you either haven’t asked enough questions or you aren’t really listening to them. We humans are an odd bunch, which means endless opportunity for fascination if you are willing to look hard enough.
Approach just about everything you encounter with open curiosity. The interest-rebound effect that it has on you is due to the fact that it expands your worldview, increases the breadth of subjects you can converse about, and encourages others to be interested as well.
The added advantage, of course, is that it also makes life a whole lot more fun.