The Perfect Introduction

Like every event in Forensics, the introduction is key to making a first impression in Extemporaneous Speaking. Whether competing in Foreign or Domestic Extemp, a strong, creative introduction is crucial to standing out in a category that is flooded with boring facts and citation. The introduction provides an opportunity to add some life to a very political and serious category. However, a speaker only has a half hour to prepare their entire speech, thus it is important not to waste too much time preparing an introduction. To save time, it is important for an Extemper to know of a few possible introduction types prior to entering the round.

The Historical Account

The first type of introduction is the historical account. This is where the given topic is used to create a flashback of how it was applicable in the past. The flashback can either be representative of something else or it can be about that specific event in the past. For example, let us say the topic is about the War in Iraq. An introduction using an historical account would include something involving the Gulf War. An Extemper could relate the current war in Iraq to that of the first one twenty years ago. This would allow for not only a comparison of events, but it would also allow for a comparison of how our current president is handling the job compared to President Bush Sr. at the time. Another way to approach this is using another historical account of a different war. If the stance was taken that America was threatened and therefore went on the offensive, a comparison could be made of the War to that of the Attack on Pearl Harbor. This allows for the judge to easily follow along with the point being made from the beginning. Another type of historical account can be a progression of events. Sticking with the topic of Iraq, a speaker may talk about various acts of terrorism on American property during the decade leading up to the war. Beginning this way gives the judge a brief precursor to the current issue.

Editorial Analogy

The second type of introduction technique is that of editorial analogy. This provides the speaker with the most room for humor. An editorial analogy allows a speaker to create an allusion and use a surprise tactic when approaching the thesis. There are only two things to be cautious of. First of all, in order to pull it off successfully it will take a good deal of time. Unless something is thought of quickly, an editorial analogy may be a waste of precious prep time. Second, because there is a lack of time it could happen that during the introduction the analogy becomes muddied and incoherent--beware of word choices and properly set-up an analogy. Here is an example of a good editorial analogy using the topic of President Obama’s war strategy. The attention getting devise could be about the unveiling of a piece of art at a gallery. Create excitement and talk about the anticipation and the build up of the unveiling. Suddenly, at the big event the art falls on the ground and shatters! Then the speaker reveals the correlation of the analogy. The piece of art is like Obama who brought much expectation to America, but the hype has brought about worthless results and shattered dreams. Or the opposite opinion could just as easily be used by letting the fictitious art be revealed, not shatter, and worth the wait--just like Obama and his administration. Whichever stance is used make sure the analogy is somewhat humorous and clever. Then flow the transition into the thesis and move on to the substance of the speech.

Future Prediction

The third and final type of introduction for Extemp being discussed will be that of the future prediction. The introduction can be used to create a portrait of the possible future. Depending on the direction of the speech, describe the future as a beautiful place or a morbid disaster. Whatever is done, describe the future as if talking about the present and then surprise the judge. For instance, talking about the effects of the health care debates one could describe that the current setting is equivalent to that of Eden. Then, while approaching the thesis state that being in Eden is how most will feel when the health care debates are over. Basically, the current political mess is being compared to Hell. This can be humorous if done well. Steer clear of “predictions” that can offend audiences. (In this example's case, a speaker should be safe because whether a Republican or Democrat, everyone gets sick of the fighting that our elected officials partake in day after day.) A flash forward to describe what the world will be like when there are no longer wars, or when AIDS is cured, can all be utilized. This freedom allows for a speaker to set the scene of a utopia or a disaster for almost any topic of a speech.

These are a few of the major categories of introduction types for Extemporaneous Speaking. The last particularly opens the door for the most creativity. But that is a personal option and a speaker has to decide how they feel their topic and speaking style should be introduced. Remember, the introduction is an audience’s first impression of a speaker, and whatever style is chosen should be executed as flawlessly as possible. Most people remember an opening and closing more so than the middle. Not to mention first impressions influence audience opinion, so beginning strongly is crucial for a solid rank. Regardless of importance, make sure to not spend too much time perfecting the introduction. Prep offers limited time, thus do the best job possible. Never forget that everyone is at the same disadvantage of not having the time to perfect, so relax. Pick an introduction, present it with confidence, and a speech will do well.