Keys to Winning Extemp

Extemp seems to be one of those events that breeds a whole different type of speaker. You have to be witty and quick on one hand, yet on the other, eloquent and refined. The difference between a good and bad extemper is a mile. In order to consistently dominate extemp and qualify to nationals, you have to master each of the following components.

The first and most important key for excelling at extemp is understanding current events. You simply can't rely on your boxes to carry you. The reason for this is the depth of extemp topics. Those who place first or second in a round are the ones who take a topic and bring a new element to it. You can only do this by being informed of not only major news events, but how they progress over time.

With an understanding of events, it is also important to have good files. You need recent magazines for the sake of quoting sources and authors. Regardless of how much you know about extemp, you have to back up your understanding with authority. It is the only way a judge will respect your point of view. If you are able to pull this off, then the last step is charisma.

It is imperative that you have a smooth speech when you are competing in extemp. Stuttering is an easy giveaway that you are a novice speaker. You have a half an hour to prepare your extemp speech. It should only take ten minutes to formulate the structure and the last 20 should be used to hone the speech direction.

Do these three things and you will quickly rise to the top. And the one added benefit of extemp is that you never have to start over each year. You just build on your talent and hit the ground running. Other events, you gain skill, but you have to find a new piece or topic. Start as a freshman in extemp and by your junior year, you should be crushing the competition at each tournament.