Avoiding Impromptu Speaking Slip-ups

Impromptu speaking is one of the hardest events for avoiding speaking blunders.  There is the constant pressure of time pressing upon you.  You must deliver a speech while thinking it up.  Plus, you have to worry about receiving a topic that either means nothing to you or is utterly asinine.  Impromptu speakers are like Atlas in regards to the stress they carry during a round.  Yet, delivering grammatically correct great speeches is required.  So, what are some tricks to avoiding slurred speech and getting tongue tied?

  • A good outline.  Use your Impromptu prep time to the best advantage.  Visualize the points you which to make, think of some support and development for these points, and plan a good thesis.  This is a lot to devise in under five minutes (that being a max time), but with practice it will become common.  By planning your speech in your mind prior to actually forming the words for it will help you to stay on task, know where you are going, and generally feel in control.  This confidence will surely help.
  • Speak slowly and think.  There is a reason why great speakers speak slow.  They are planning what to say!  Never should an Impromptu move at a sloth-like pace, but by decreasing speed slightly you will see a dramatic change in how fewer words are stumbled over.
  • Pause instead of "umm."  Vocal placeholders such as "umm," "ahh," or "like" have no place in an Impromptu round.  In practice keep tally, either mentally or literally with your coach's assistance, of how which sounds/words you use and how often.  You might be shocked.  Anyway, using placeholders is annoying.  It is far better to have a second of silence than "ummmmm."  This will work well alongside the slowing down strategy.
  • "Ignore" a mistake.  If you do happen to slip and blur some words together NEVER make it an issue.  Correct what you said and press forward.  Freaking out and dwelling on small mistakes will drain your focus and most likely lead to more screw-ups.  Thus, you now risk turning one mistake into many.  One, tiny vocal mishap will not spur global destruction.  Just...
  • ...relax.  Thinking about failure or stressing during Impromptu will not help.  Control your nerves.  Remember you are involved in Forensics because it is fun.  And make your nerves work for you by channeling nervous energy into energy for your performance.   

Simple, easy to do tasks that can vastly improve your Impromptu speaking abilities.  It also helps to practice, in case you were unsure.  By practicing you can test out these skills and work them into your Impromptu flow.  So practice and begin to untie your tongue.