The All-Important Introduction

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If you are in the categories of extemp, oratory or congress, one of the most important parts of your speech is the introduction. (Although the other events have intros, the most freedom comes with these events...you may beg to differ.) Not only is this very critical, but the creativity available is staggering. You are working with a fresh canvas and in these events, you have the flexibility to take any approach necessary which makes the sky the limit. Unfortunately, with this freedom also comes the chance for you to bomb. In order to avoid doing so, it is important to factor in what is important in making an impression on the audience and judge.

The first thing that all introductions should consist of is the thesis. In all of these events, you have to (at some point) let your audience know where you are going and what you are going to try and convince them of. Although you would never start an introduction with your thesis, if you don't mention it by the end, then the audience will be left confused and misdirected and chances are, you will have failed to accomplish your primary objectives.

The second necessary element of an introduction is an interesting AGD. In extemp and congress, it is important to bring an interesting fact or event to the surface from the beginning because this establishes your authority for the remainder of the speech. In oratory, you may want to catch the judge off guard. How do you do this? Use a story or example that relates to your topic, but dont give away your angle until the thesis statement. This will keep your audienc intrigued and engaged as you approach the factual part of your argument.

Although it isn't imperative, I would suggest that you have a quote somewhere in your introduction. In extemp and congress, I would suggest incorporating a quote from a notable leader or politician to support your side of the argument. In oratory, never start with a quote but try to validate your opening point with a quote by someone recognizable. With that said, if you can't find a strong quote for this point in your speech, then don't force it. Never feel like writing a speech is the equivalent of filling out a template.

These are three parts of an introduction which are vital to success. In your opinion, there may be more. Each speaker is different and no one style is correct. But regardless of your direction, you must apply structure and intrigue to set the stage for an effective and winning speech.

For an oratory introduction, do you have to break away from your speech to do it, or incorporate it into what you've already written?

No, you dont break away. The backbone of an oratory piece is the five-paragraph essay style. Intro and conclusion with main points in between.

Sorry, but an introduction is an introduction is an introduction. The format you listed is EXACTLY the same as any other event...so why does "the most freedom come[s] with these events?" I'm curious. Seriously. Because I don't understand. And I'll admit it when I am confused.

If anything, the other events offer the most creativity and freedom. In the speaking events you transition from a professional speaking style to yourself. In acting events you go from a character to yourself. Even if you claim in acting a part of you is in the role, which I fully do, you are still switching from a CHARACTER to you. Plus, there is an expectation in acting events to set the tone and have interesting, creative intros. So you're you but a better, more dramatic version. You sell the story.

You just deliver a thesis statement.

I should have done debate. I love arguing. You do know I do this in jest right? And b/c I honestly want to know why you made that statement with a "beg to differ" attached. I think you wanted someone to differ, haha.

oh, you would differ Lis...you would! lol jk. Yeah, it is a personal opinion and i threw that out there with the intention of opening the door for livid opposition like you...ohhh! burn!

Anyway, I still hold to my opinion. I think the intros in those three events are the toughest because they require transition. In the interp events, you quickly change from your character to you. It isnt that smooth and that is why I think the intros in these events are more difficult. But, I tend to lean toward the speech-speech events more than the acting ones.

PS - Here you go Lis...I lobbed you up a softball!

haha, way to call me out.

And FYI Mr. PublicSpeech, acting categories require transitions. You need to pick an appropriate place to end your teaser (it's not as clear as "hey! I finished my introduction paragraph I can do my intro now!" oh SNAP!) and move to a mood that can be of high intensity to you. AND if you are in a binder-utilizing category you have to deal with that "prop".

Back to you.

I think we need to take this outside...

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