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.
Prologue: The Soul of This Book xi Introduction 1 Part I THE NEW WORLD OF IMPROMPTU 9 1 The Rise of Impromptu Speaking 11 2 Power of Spontaneity 23 Part II THE IMPROMPTU MIND-SET 33 3 Be Intent on Leading 35 4 Be a Listener 45 5 Be Authentic 55 6 Be Focused 65 7 Be Respectful 71 Part III THE LEADER’S SCRIPT 79 8 Lay the Groundwork 81 9 Read Your Audience 89 10 The Scripting Template 97 11 Commit to a Message 103 12 Make a Compelling Case 111 13 Beginnings and Endings 119 Part IV IMPROMPTU SCRIPTS FOR EVERY OCCASION 125 14 Meetings 127 15 Job Interviews, Networking, and Elevator Conversations 135 16 “Just the Big Picture” 145 17 Toasts and Tributes 151 18 The Impromptu Speech 159 19 Q&A 165 Part V THE IMPROMPTU STAGE 175 20 Rehearse Your Remarks 177 21 Choose YourWords 187 22 Use Improv Techniques 195 23 Find Your Voice 203 24 Master Body Language 211 Conclusion: Don’t Be Scared, Be Prepared 219 Endnotes 225 Acknowledgments 239 Index 243
Judith Humphrey is founder of The Humphrey Group Inc., one of North America's premier leadership communications firms. Over the past 30 years The Humphrey Group has coached tens of thousands of leaders who wish to influence and inspire when they speak. The firm's pathbreaking program for women has reached over a half million individuals around the world. Humphrey is a keynote speaker and author of three books (Speaking as a Leader, Taking the Stage, and Impromptu). She is also a regular columnist for Fast Company. She lives with her family in Toronto. For more on the author and her books, see www.judithhumphrey.com and follow her on twitter @judith_humphrey.
Listen, assess, think, and respond on the fly and be ready to Lead in the Moment The ability to speak eloquently off the cuff is often thought to be an innate gift. Either you're born with it or you're not. Right? Not according to bestselling leadership author and communications expert, Judith Humphrey. As she shows in this important new book, impromptu speaking is a skill that can be learned. Anyone who aspires to lead today must be able to communicate effectively and deliver a powerful message on the spot. In today's fast-paced world, audiences expect you to speak authentically and clearly at a moment's notice, without the benefit of a podium or scripted text. In Impromptu, Humphrey provides clear, actionable guidance to help you influence and inspire as a leader in a broad range of situations—from elevator chats and corridor conversations to meetings, job interviews, and networking events. The book draws upon memorable impromptu moments in history, from the ancient Greeks to today's most successful leaders in business, politics, and entertainment. Impromptu will show you how to: Think like an impromptu leader Instantly read any audience, of any size, anywhere Rapidly collect your thoughts and craft a persuasive message "Script" yourself within seconds for any occasion Avoid "um's" and "ah's" and find the right words Deliver your message with clarity and confidence Speak with presence Why read Impromptu? Because leaders with strong communication skills stand out for their ability to inspire in off-the-cuff exchanges. No other book unlocks the secrets of successful spontaneity as Impromptu does.
ACCLAIM FOR IMPROMPTU "I have always relished impromptu speaking—and in my role as Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations, I have many occasions to speak spontaneously. My work with Judith Humphrey has made my speaking more on point, meaningful, and impactful. Readers of Impromptu will benefit tremendously from this book, which lays out everything necessary to be eloquent off the cuff." —Marc-André Blanchard, Canada's Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations "Short, spontaneous remarks can have a huge impact and Impromptu will help you organize your thoughts and capture the minds of your audience. Judith Humphrey is an authority on the subject and this is a must-read book for anyone, especially for those in leadership roles!" —Tony Arrell, Chairman and CEO, Burgundy Asset Management Ltd. "If you are meticulous about preparation, as I am, the idea of speaking off the cuff can send shivers down your spine. This book is made for us: read this insightful work to prepare for those high-consequence moments when your response has to be just right." —Paul Vallée, Chairman and CEO, The Pythian Group, Inc. "I love the premise and promise of this book. Impromptu will enable you to deliver what matters in the moment." —Joe McCormack, Author of Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less PRAISE FOR PREVIOUS BOOKS "Ms. Humphrey displays deep expertise and experience in communications leadership." —Rebecca Knight, The Financial Times [review of Taking the Stage] "Speaking as a Leader has been a valuable go-to resource for our subscribers and I often choose it when asked to suggest a strong leadership communication title." —Sarah T. Dayton, Editor-in-Chief, Soundview "After reading Speaking as a Leader in two days, I reached out immediately to get Judith in front of my leadership team. This has been the single most impactful read of my career." —Kate Nazar, Vice President, Client Solutions Centre, Sun Life Financial
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