Plus 78 impromptu speech topics to help you practice.

So, you want to get better at improvised or “impromptu” speaking. Maybe you got put on the spot at a dinner party or froze up during a company icebreaker; either way you’ve vowed never to be caught unprepared for a toast again.

Impromptu speeches might seem intimidating (heck, prepared speeches are scary enough!). But, you can prepare to be unprepared with a few simple tried and true tricks that professional performers and speakers alike use to give memorable off-the-cuff talks.

1. Tell the truth.

You don’t have to make anything up, or rely on puns to make an impromptu speech entertaining or interesting —…

Faced with burnout and the prospect of putting on a dress shirt, professionals are quitting in droves. What’s a manager to do?

Last year, there were nearly 6 million fewer resignations than there were in 2019. Now, professionals who have been hunkered down for the covid winter are making up for lost time. NBC reports that the resignation rate in March 2021 was 2.4% — the highest in 20 years — and another U.S. survey found 26% of workers are planning to leave their current job over the next few months.

Forbes writes that companies should expect a bumpy re-entry and months of experimenting, while their workforce experiences the “biggest sunday scaries of their lives.” So, who is at the highest flight…

Isolating the variables of genuine connection

(via Paul Spella for The Atlantic)

In 2015, one New York Times article took the dating world by storm. “The 36 Questions That Lead To Love” detailed 36, progressively intimate character and experience-based questions like “Would you like to be famous?” “When was the last time you cried?

The questions were based on a study called “The Experimental Generation of Personal Closeness,” which found that mutual vulnerability can foster intimacy — and maybe, just maybe, love. *Cue romantic accordion*

And so the gauntlet was thrown. Couples new and old took up the 36 Questions’ banner, attempting to spark love in wine bars the world over. Of…

Most of us are coming out of the pandemic a lot different than we went in — but different how? And how will we change in re-entry? We surveyed 3,000 readers about their pandemic experience and how they’re feeling about “returning to normal.” Here’s what they told us:

How we’ve changed:

You’re getting back out there… now what do you talk about??

Vaccination numbers are rising, covid cases are falling, and social gatherings are starting to open up again. You may have been to a memorial BBQ or a park hang in the past few weeks, you may have noticed a phenomenon: We’re all having the same stale, dead-end, and lightly re-traumatizing conversations about work, “self-care,” or the latest NYT headline.

Here are 4 creative alternatives, inspired by the conversational card game We’re Not Really Strangers, to replace common quarantine small talk:

Don’t ask: “How did you spend your quarantine?”
Ask: “What was the most fun moment you had in quarantine?”

Most of us have spent our rare social time with a few close friends or loved ones at most (in-person…

New advice on persuasion through compassion illustrates improv thinking at work.

What do you say to a friend who won’t get vaccinated? Today, The New York Times published a fantastic interactive chatbot that walks you through that very conversation using persuasive techniques that may seem counterintuitive — but are super effective.

The word “no” isn’t uttered once

Instead, the technique is based around some of the core principles of improv thinking: ‘yes-and’-ing the other person’s feelings, leading with curiosity, and sharing info collaboratively in a narrative format.

Developed by doctors Arnaud Gangneur and Karin Tamerius, this school of thought deliberately avoids persuasive tactics you may recognize from your last contentious family gathering — “commanding, advising, lecturing, and…

And why making friends is about to get a whole lot easier.

Picture this: You’re sitting at an airport bar, waiting for a flight to visit friends. You’ve got a drink and just enough time to kill, when a stranger with a kind face plops down on the stool next to you. “You headed to _________, too?” They ask?

It’s not a dream. It’s a soon-to-be reality.

For a year-plus we have had nowhere to go, and that also means we’ve had no one to meet — either intentionally or unintentionally. We haven’t been “bumping into old friends,” and we sure as heck haven’t been bumping into new ones. …

And it’s on the strange spectrum between surviving and thriving.

For the past 14 months (???), it seems we’ve all transformed into Victorian gentry — learning Romance languages, taking long walks, writing letters, staring wistfully out the window, growing out our armpit hair…

But, even if you haven’t started referring to the kitchen as the “Solarium,” The New York Times suggests you may be experiencing another Austen-esque phenomenon:

It’s called “languish”

No, it’s not an 18th-century blood disease it’s — as organizational psychologist Adam Grant puts it — “the neglected middle child of mental health.”

And studying them tells us a ton about why we do, too.

We’ll give you a minute to process this information. Yes, it’s true, rats do actually laugh. And studying them tells us a ton about why we do, too. But before we get to that, some quick Rat Facts™:

  • Rat laughs are normally too high-pitched for us to hear. To study them, scientists had to modulate the recordings way down.
  • Scientists found that rats laugh during rough-and-tumble play (AKA “playfighting”) and when tickled (AKA CUTE)
  • They also found that rats laugh when they’re excited, or anticipating something joyful happening, like being fed (same, honestly).

Why were scientists studying rodent laughter in the first place?

Well, they noticed laughing is one of…

Most of us are treasure hunting without a map. Here’s how to bring a sense of play to your progress.

If you’ve received one piece of financial advice in your life, it’s likely this: small, consistent investments add up big over time. You’ve probably also heard that more people play the lottery than save for retirement.

The same is true of long-term goals; our incremental gains accrue like interest. But, like saving for retirement, the very thing that makes compound interest so effective is what makes it hard to appreciate: it’s difficult to conceptualize our day-to-day progress, and it doesn’t trigger the immediate serotonin boost of say, hitting the “jackpot.”

The result? While the effectiveness of 1% gains is proven…

Speechless Inc.

Speechless is an organization that uses Improv Thinking to help people be themselves and be heard. Visit for more info.

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