Extemporaneous: Overview

Welcome to the event of the little black box, and I am not talking about that amazing, resilient device found on airplanes. Although, I am sure these boxes are non-destructible and hold great power. No, this is Extemporaneous Speaking, referred to as Extemp.

Extemp can be broken down into International and Domestic Extemp. International meaning the topic is of foreign affairs, Domestic being related to events of America. The same basic set-up for both variations ensues: the competitor is given three questions, they choose one to answer, and they have thirty minutes to prepare a seven minute speech about that topic.

Extemp is kind of like extended Impromptu. Except Extempers are allowed resources. That’s right. Actually, Extempers are required to use resources for their speeches—which must be cited at some point in the speech. These resources come from newspapers, magazines, journals, and various other published materials that the Extemper has filed away in a storage box, typically black, for safe keeping. The box, or Extemp file, is only to be used during the thirty minute preparation period prior to competition. At the start of every tournament, the location for storage of the Extemp file and where the preparation period will take place is given.

An Extemper’s box should be well-organized and updated frequently with useful articles. A poor box can mean failure. This box is essential, so devise an organization system that works for you to succeed. Seriously. No matter how great of a public speaker you are, or how knowledgeable of a current affair, if you lack citations you will lose points. If you like analogies, Full Metal Jacket: Rifle as Extemporaneous Speaking: Extemp File.

Note cards with an outline are permitted in competition; no pre-outlines or fully-written speeches are allowed. Extemp requires excellent researching skills, knowledge of current affairs, great public speaking abilities (gestures, tone, movement as transitions/emphasis, etc.), diligence, and the capability to think under pressure. If you like being completely prepared going into a competition, this event is not for you. However, if you like research papers, news, writing speeches, and carrying an awesome black box, then you probably are already an Extemporaneous Speaker or should be.