McGraw-Hill Public Speaking

Speaking to an audience

Methods of delivery

There are four methods of delivery: manuscript, memorization, impromptu, and extemporaneous. Use manuscript method to deliver a speech that will become part of an official record or conference proceedings. Use the memorization method sparingly, if at all, for short speeches such as toasts and introductions. Use the impromptu method to present a single point in an unscheduled speech. Use the extemporaneous method to present a carefully prepared speech from brief notes.


Use the manuscript format when delivering a speech that will appear in official records or conference proceedings. Use the manuscript as a support, but avoid reading it word-for-word. Manuscripts read verbatim from a printed copy sound mechanical. If you read directly from a manuscript, your audience will get bored.

Eye contact, vocal variety, and facial expressions help engage your audience. When your attention is directed at a piece of paper, these delivery skills suffer. You can counteract the problems of the manuscript format by focusing on key phrases and practicing your speech repeatedly. Highlight key words on your manuscript. As you read through your speech, glance at the highlighted words to remember which idea comes next. When you practice your speech, don't attempt to memorize every word. Instead, thoroughly familiarize yourself with the substance of your speech and the sequence of your main points. Although your speech will vary somewhat from the manuscript, it will sound more natural.


A fully memorized speech usually sounds as mechanical as one read from a manuscript. This method is seldom used or recommended anymore. If you choose to memorize a speech, keep it short and work to add inflection to your voice. When practicing a speech that must be memorized, remember to include expression in your voice.


Use the impromptu method when you give a short speech with little or no time for preparation. Even in an impromptu situation, pause to organize your speech. Focus on your main point, proof to support your main point, and a conclusion.


The extemporaneous speech is a carefully planned and prepared speech. It is usually given from brief notes or a speaking outline. Unlike a memorized speech or manuscript, the exact wording of an extemporaneous speech is selected at the time the speech is given.

Most people who speak in public often prefer the extemporaneous method of delivery. It appears more spontaneous than a speech read from manuscript or memorized. It allows the speaker more room to adapt to the situation and engages the audience more. Yet, the speaker retains control over the content of the speech, which has been rehearsed.

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