Extemporaneous Speaking

Official Description: Contestants will be given three topics in the general area of current events, choose one, and have 30 minutes to prepare a speech.

Maximum time limit for the speech is 7 minutes. Notes are permitted. Students will speak in listed order. Posting of topics will be staggered.

What you should expect to get out of this event:

  1. You will learn a great deal about current events, local, national, and international.
  2. You will enjoy sharing your observations and insights with coaches and team members in rehearsal, and with audiences in competition.
  3. You will learn a variety of methods for structuring ideas for clear and effective presentation.
  4. You will learn greater control of your voice and body, making both more expressive.
  5. You will learn to think systematically and efficiently under time pressure.
  6. You will learn self-control and poise under pressure.
  7. You will learn to "read" audiences, adjusting your speech to audience reactions as you go along.
  8. You will read more widely and perceptively, sorting and gathering material which you can use in your speeches.
  9. You will learn to develop an extensive filing system, storing useful material so that it can quickly be found when needed.
  10. You will develop your memory, stocking it with stories, facts, and viewpoints you can use in your speeches.
  11. You will learn to become a better observer of the world around you, staying alert for information and viewpoints that will make you a better thinker and speaker.
  12. You will come to a better understanding of yourself, as you search your own experience to help you find worthwhile things to say.
  13. You will learn a lot by watching excellent extemporaneous speakers.


Special features of this event in competition:

To clarify this event: A half-hour before you are scheduled to speak, you are given a slip of paper on which you will find three topics from current events. You have a half-hour to select one of the topics, and prepare a seven-minute speech on it. Your half-hour preparation time must be carefully used; in it you must formulate a thesis and outline for your speech, support your points with research drawn from your previously-prepared files, and spend a few minutes rehearsing. Often people with debate experience are drawn to EXT, and so they are glib and smooth talkers - but debate experience is not always an advantage, because debaters often pick up bad habits (like the use of jargon, and rapid-fire delivery) which they can't shake. EXT is a rigorous and challenging event, a lot of work but very worthwhile.


What you will do to become competitive in this event:

Initial preparation: about 3 weeks

  1. select the Extemporaneous Speaking event
  2. learn about speech structure 2-3 days
  3. develop a filing system to store material for quick retrieval continuous
  4. try out a topic or two, slowly 1-2 days
  5. practice: do it over and over, every day 2 weeks
  6. keep reading in current events, copying and filing useful material on every possible topic

Between-tournament preparation:

  1. Keep practicing.
  2. Work to make structures more sophisticated, yet still clear
  3. Work to make sure speeches are on the topics provided
  4. Continue reading widely to stock files with useful material