Impromptu: Structure and Rules

This individual speaking event has a basic structure with multiple variations. A speaker walks into a round, chooses a topic, has limited prep time, and then delivers the just-created speech with the aid of a note card, introduction included. The variations involve the way topics are chosen/given out, how much prep time is allowed, and how long a speech should be. Some areas give the speaker a slip of paper with three choices, and the speaker chooses one. Other areas give the topic choices to the speaker in an envelope. Some areas only allow quotations as topics. Also, some areas give three keys words that need to be addressed during the speech (triad format). Further, with prep time, certain regions will allow the speaker a total of eight minutes to prep and deliver a speech (ideally, two of those minutes are spent on prep). Also, some places ask for a five minute speech and give half a minute prep. Bottom-line? If interested in Impromptu, check your local area’s rules and regulations for structure. It seems with Impromptu everybody wants to be different.


• Time limits are to be adhered to
• All gestures, movements (as transitions/emphasis), facials, intonation/vocals, etc. need to be clear and help support the piece
• Whatever the structure for your area, rules for that format must be followed (if your region uses the Triad format, you must use it as well)
• Humor is expected and encouraged
• Diction and a clear steady voice are required
• Even though a speech created on the spot, it must be well supported and have an easily identified introduction, bodies of support, and conclusion—it’s like any other paper you have written for an English class
• Eye contact is imperative