Impromptu Speaking

Official Description: An impromptu speech, serious in nature, with topic selection varied round by round, section by section.

Topics will be of a proverb nature. Speakers will have a total of 7 minutes and may use the time at their own discretion. Notes are permitted. Each speaker in a given section will have the same topic.

What you should expect to get out of this event:

  1. You will enjoy sharing your observations and insights with coaches and team members in rehearsal, and with audiences in competition.
  2. You will gain confidence in the value of your own experiences and thinking.
  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 severe 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, gathering material which you can use in your speeches.
  9. You will develop your memory, as you stock it with stories, facts, and viewpoints to use in your speeches.
  10. You will learn to become a better observer of the world around you, as you stay alert for information and viewpoints that will make you a better thinker and speaker.
  11. You will come to a better understanding of yourself, as you search your own experience to help you find worthwhile things to say.
  12. You will learn a lot by watching excellent impromptu speakers.


Special features of this event in competition:

To clarify this event: You walk into the competition room, the judge hands you a slip of paper with a topic on it, and from that moment you have 7 minutes to think up and deliver a speech on that topic. Speakers usually use one or two minutes to think and plan, and then give a five-minute speech. IMP usually attracts two kinds of speakers - the lazy and the very good. The lazy are those who see this as a "no-preparation" event, easy to get into without a lot of work. They don't do well, but it's nice to encounter them in rounds because you will score higher than they do. The very good are those who know how to prepare for this event and work at it. Often they are people with debate experience, and so they are glib and smooth talkers - but debate experience is not always an advantage, because debaters often pick up bad habits (like using jargon, and rapid-fire delivery) which they can't shake. Usually quite a few people enter IMP, many because they think it's easy. It's not, if you do it well.


What you will do to become competitive in this event:

Initial preparation: about 3 weeks

  1. select the Impromptu event
  2. learn about speech structure 2-3 days
  3. try out a topic or two, slowly 1-2 days
  4. practice: do it over and over, 2-3 topics a day 2 weeks
  5. read widely: current events, history, philosophy, anything useful, to stay up-to-date and to stock memory with material

Between-tournament preparation:

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