Impromptu Time Splitting

Every league has their own rules for Impromptu Speaking.  It is such a diverse and colorful category.  Want examples of how diverse it is?  See here.  Despite the variation across the country, there is one unifying "rule," or philosophy, many Impromptu speakers adhere to: less prep, more talk.  In Illinois, where speakers are given 8 minutes for prep and speech, the norm is a 2/6 split.  For many with a 7 minute limit the divide is typically 2/5.  Others do a 2/4 split.  The general consensus is Varsity should be able to prep around 2 minutes, Novice around 3 (unless competing in a league that limits prep time to 2 minutes).  Two minutes might seem extreme for a prep time, but if you are new to the event, or maintaining a 3 minute prep for whatever reason, there are some benefits to a shorter prep time you should be made aware.

  • It's in the name.  The event is called Impromptu.  You are supposed to be making up this speech on the fly, as you go, off-the-top-of-your-head, by the seat your pants, and whichever other clichés I am forgetting.  There is an expectation of limited prep to truly be considered an impromptu speech.  If you take the longest amount of prep time in your round you could drop rank.  Even if your speech is slightly more polished than others.  Judges could see your slightly more glimmering speech only possible because you took an extra minute.  And chances are your speech will not be that more impressive than others who took less time than you.  You are after all prepping in minutes--how polished can it get?
  • More time to elaborate on points.  Impromptu might not have the researched citations Extemporaneous Speaking has, but you do have to offer good support in your speech.  You should also never sound rushed or underdeveloped while talking.  The only real way to ensue you have the time to say all you need is to lessen your prep time.  Longer prep time equates to less time on your feet, and that is never desirable.  Finally, not only is there more allowance for development, if you slip-up there is a greater slot of time to make corrections.   
  • Gut instinct.  Taking longer to prep gives you more time to begin to second-guess yourself.  Always seek a good piece of support, but you do not have the time to plan a dissertation on your topic.  Stick to your guts.  Besides, the more you question yourself the quicker you lose confidence in your speech.  A major draw to a speaker is how well they present themselves in front of an audience.  Therefore, you need to maintain all the calm resolve you possess.
  • Presentation.  The more time you have to speak, the more time you have to play with your presentation.  Granted, this could mean an extra 60 seconds worth of time to manipulate, but that's 60 seconds you wouldn't have if stuck prepping.  Having time to add pauses, however slight, adds a whole layer of presentation speaking style a rushed speaker loses.  Further, more Impromptu speaking time results in a "slower" pace which is easier for audiences to follow, and this helps prevent getting tongue-tied mid sentence.  Overall, the potential for higher rank and speaker points increases.  

Violà!  Inspiration to slim-down and be concise with your Impromptu time.  Obviously, if you need a full 3 minutes to prepare an Impromptu, regardless of your rank as Novice/Varsity, please take the extra time.  Some speakers cannot move that quickly without feeling rushed and anxious, which can completely ruin their presence.  Yet these same speakers should spring forth with an exquisite speech in return for the further minute of prep.  However you decide to split, do so in a method that you are comfortable.  Your Impromptu will be the grander for it.