Kanye West & The Art of the Impromptu Speech
Trill or Not Trill?
When MTV announced that Kanye West was receiving the Video Vanguard Award, I just knew we were in for one heck of a speech. As a student leader or really as anyone, you never know when a public speaking opportunity will happen. Impromptu speeches of small and large variety can occur at any moment. With these tips below along with some assistance from Kanye’s 10 minute address, you’ll be ready when that time comes.
In many cases impromptu speeches come when you least expect it. Before heading up to that stage, you’ve got to buy yourself some time to gather as many thoughts as possible. Any extra time is good time. Waiting as the audience applauds or walking up slowly are all perfect for buying you some time to think. Kanye knew he had to address the public but still hit us with something off the top of the dome. While many saw him basking in the glory of cheers, I was watching a great stall tactic. He watched and breathed in the essence, all the while, hopefully thinking of who what this speech was going to look like.
Engage the Audience Early and Often
Knowing your audience is always imperative. If you’re speaking to anyone in such a setting, understanding their interests is key. Relating to the people will help you speak to those people. Kanye caught the live audience a few times but there were two statements that stuck out to me. “Listen to the kids, bro.” Kanye used this at the beginning and end of the speech and it killed. They cheered because, they were now the focal point. Everyone cheering was a kid at that time, bro. He talked about sparking something up and the audience ate it up. This turned Kanye into one of audience members himself. Now, don’t go talking about weed during your next impromptu speech but do try and find that key point to engage.
Add a Personal Story
In times of duress always go to who you know. Who knows more about you than yourself. Inject a personal story relating to the topic at hand. If this is for a class, a presentation or an impromptu wedding speech any small anecdote about how you fit into this message is helpful. At the beginning stages, Kanye talked about shopping with his daughter and going to baseball games. This helped articulate his feelings about the Taylor Swift incident from the previous VMAs. Being personal lets the audience know that you have some experience in the whatever’s being discussed. It also clears up some of the of choppiness that shows up during a potential run on moment.
Avoid Going On and On
When you aren’t prepared it’s noticeable and easy to ramble. Try to avoid being that person that didn’t do the work for the group project. That person goes on and on
confidently but no one is quite sure how this relates to the assignment. Any traction you might have had gets muddled. Pay attention to these lapses and cease once you realize you’re in the “Ranting Zone”. Kanye’s off the cuff speeches are drenched in emotion. Last night was no different. Speaking in such a manner almost always opens the door for “WTF did he just say?” The thing is, brilliance also shows its face as one goes on and on. You walk a thin line trying to find the perfect space between the ramble and genius.
Find Coherence and Stick to it.
Do whatever it takes to find a coherent point and stick to it. Coherence can be tough when put on the spot but it will lead you to the promise land. As said earlier, Kanye was there at times discussing the repercussions and reactions from the Taylor Swift incident. Even after snitching on Justin Timberlake, he still had me. Then things got dicey. He lost us for a few but then finished with much more coherence. He took a longer route than suggested but he eventually found some continuity.
End on a strong note
As they say, it’s not always about how you start but how you finish. People will remember how you close the show, if it’s done with a bang. Once you realized the speech is coming to an end, start thinking about can you grab the audience and take them off the stage with you. Play to their interests. A call and response to end is not a bad choice. Get them cheering by thanking someone. You could go the Kanye route and make a huge declaration. In Kanye’s case his passion came through at the end of this speech. He made it personal again by referencing his grandfather and was extremely coherent about the importance of the artists make changes and taking risks. Finally, the man announced that he was going to run for president. Can’t any stronger than that.