Speaking impromptu is hard.Â Ask the average person in a meeting to â€œupdate us on the project youâ€™re working on,â€ and if theyâ€™re not prepared, you hear a disorganized mess.
Itâ€™s just show up and throw up.
But if you have trouble coming across as organized in impromptu settings, you might take a lesson from comics who rely on repeated routines to churn out reliable laughs.
These repeated routines are called â€œshticksâ€. And if you want to learn how to quickly organize your thoughts in a meeting, you should consider developing your own shtick.Â Such routines can help make you sound smooth impromptu.
A â€œshtickâ€ is a Yiddish term for a comic routine.Â For performers, a shtick is a standard bit that they return to over and over again to reliably get laughs.
Johnny Carson could always get a laugh with his Carnac the Magnificent shtick.
Jack Bennyâ€™s shtick was that he was cheap.
Rodney Dangerfieldâ€™s shtick was â€œI donâ€™t get no respect.â€
But you can use a non-comic shtick or routine to quickly organize your thoughts and reliably get you through impromptu speaking situations.
There are many impromptu speaking shticks that you can rely on, some of which you may already know.
Letâ€™s say that someone asks you to tell whatâ€™s going on with a major project.
You can use the â€œGood news bad newsâ€ shtick. Â Youâ€™d say, â€œWell there is the good news and the bad news. â€œÂ And then you can organize your thoughts around those two ideas.
One of my clients told me that he uses the â€œ Three Onsâ€ shtick. In meetings, he organizes his thoughts around â€œWhether weâ€™re â€˜on budgetâ€™, â€˜on scheduleâ€™ and â€˜on scope.â€™â€
We tell our clients to organize their thoughts around the following three-point shtick.
- Whatâ€™s happened so far?
- What are the challenges?
- And what are we doing to meet the challenges?
These shticks quickly put your thoughts into a little organized story that your listeners can easily follow.
Letâ€™s say that someone says to you â€œCarl, why donâ€™t you update us on whatâ€™s happening with the Marietta Project?â€
Rather than speaking in a stream-of-consciousness ramble, youâ€™d turn to your shtick, laying out your simple story.
â€œWell itâ€™s going quite well but weâ€™re having a few issues. Let me talk about whatâ€™s happened so far, the challenges that weâ€™re facing and how weâ€™re planning to meet those challenges.â€
Youâ€™d then go through the three things youâ€™ve described.Â â€œLet me start with where things stand right now.â€Â After detailing the status, youâ€™d say, â€œNow let me talk about the challenges weâ€™re seeing.â€Â After detailing the challenges,, youâ€™d turn to the final point of the shtick: â€œFinally, letâ€™s talk about what weâ€™re doing about these challenges.â€
Shticks donâ€™t only make it easy on the listener. They make it easy for the speaker as well.Â The shtick relieves you of having to think about how to structure your thoughts.Â Rather you just rely on the template thatâ€™s already in your head.
Next time youâ€™re faced with having to speak impromptu, rely on a simple shtick to pull your thoughts together.