Extemporaneous speaking

Extemporaneous speaking

Extemporaneous Speaking, also known as "Extemp," is a high school and college speech event in which students speak persuasively about current events. In Extemp, a speaker chooses a question out of three offered, then prepares for thirty minutes with the use of previously prepared articles from magazines, journals and newspapers before speaking for seven minutes on the topic.

Basic Information and Format

The actual speech is delivered without the aid of notes and, at top levels, is a smooth, dynamic performance that incorporates research, background knowledge, humor and opinion. A successful extemp speech has an introduction that catches the listener's attention, introduces the theme of the speech, and answers the question through three, or sometimes two, areas of analysis which develop an answer to the question. The preview of the three or two areas of analysis to come is called the "menu". The conclusion summarizes the speech and ties everything together, relating back to the introduction and body of the speech.

Debate and public speaking (collectively called "Forensics") are generally stratified into novice, or beginning, and varsity, or experienced, levels. A varsity level extemp is expected to cite anywhere from five to ten sources within the speech to substantiate the credibility of the analysis and demonstrate ample preparation. References are often referred to as a "cite" or "citation." Quality sources include newspapers like the New York Times and Christian Science Monitor, magazines like the Economist and Foreign Policy and journals like the Fletcher Forum on World Affairs and Foreign Affairs. Also, on a speech dealing with a certain region's issues, say Africa or the Middle East, it is good to include regional sources as well.

During the speech, competitors are evaluated by way of comparison to the other speakers in a 'round' of competition. Generally, there are five to eight competitors in a given round. Judges give speakers time signals to help them pace their presentations. Judges rank all students in a room in order, with one being the best and the worst speaker ranked last (sixth, for example in a round of six competitors).

The National Forensics League (NFL), the National Christian Forensics and Communication Association (NCFCA) and the National Catholic Forensics League (CFL) host most Extemp tournaments. Both leagues have a national tournament at the end of every year, with the NFL tournament drawing a larger number of competitors. Northwestern University also hosts the Tournament of Champions in Extemperaneous Speaking each year. Other good national extemp tournaments include the MBA (Montgomery Bell Academy) Round Robin, Harvard University Invitational, George Mason University's Patriot Games, St. Mark's Heart of Texas Invitational, the Glenbrooks in Chicago, and the Barkley Forum at Emory University.

Currently, there are many top extempers in High School throughout the United States

The Different Types of Extemp

Most high school level districts offer two different kinds of Extemp Speaking. Normally, those are FX (or Foreign Extemp or IX) and DX (or Domestic Extemp or USX). Both follow the same format but have questions concentrated on either foreign or domestic political/economic topics. Some states, like Pennsylvania, offer a different event called Extemp Commentary. In Extemp Commentary the speaker, seated behind a desk, gives a five-minute speech about a topic rather than about a question. Extemp Commentary is also held at the National Speech and Debate Tournament as a Supplemental Event.

In college forensics, as well as at a number of large tournaments like the Tournament of Champions in Extemporaneous Speaking at Northwestern University, the Barkley Forum at Emory University, the Harvard Invitational and the NCFL National Championship, there is only one mixed category for Extemporaneous Speaking, referred to as simply 'Extemp' (with the event code 'EX'). Mixed extemp can prove more challenging, calling upon a speaker's broad awareness of possible topics ranging for questions about American culture to foreign policy or obscure international economic issues.

The Extemp Speech Structure

The structure of an extemporaneous speech varies widely depending on whether the competition is a high school or college tournament, and can often vary in style across the country. The most common method, exemplified in several high school and college national final rounds, follows a similar structure to the one described below.


*"Attention Getter" - A device used to get the attention of an audience. Some examples include quotations, statistics, history, narratives, political cartoons, anecdotes, and pop culture references. A typical attention getting device (sometimes referred to as an AGD) seeks to set the tone for an extemporaneous speech and acquaint the audiences with the particular style of the speaker.
*"Link" - A description of how the attention getter relates to the actual topic (for example, a speaker might describe how the movie "The Godfather" applies to a topic like American foreign policy). Links can be abstract (connecting the attention getter to the topic using a one word comparison that usually employs 'like' or 'as') or concrete (making multiple connections between the attention getter to the topic).
*"Significance Statement" - A sentence justifying the importance and relevance of the chosen topic.
*"Source"- Most introductions include at least one source, often used to substantiate the Significance Statement. Sources are cited orally and include the name of the publication and the date, at the minimum (e.g. "The Washington Post of October 23, 2006 reports that...")
*"Question" - A word-for-word recitation of the question (topic) as selected (e.g. "Is Pakistani President Musharraf doing all he can to fight extremism in his country?")
*"Definition" - A definition of any vague words that are critical to your argument (e.g. "extremism") Some definitions can be frowned upon if given in a monotone, or robotic, voice. It is a good tip for all speakers to watch how and when you give definitions.
*"Answer" - A summary of the position to be taken on the issue.
*"Preview" - A preview of the body areas of the speech. Each point should be a short declarative sentence. ("First, Brazil's economic performance will outweigh the alleged corruption.")


It is common that Extemporaneous speeches will have good deal of structure. One of the most frequently employed speech structures will accommodate three contentions or points, each containing two or three sub-points. A popular and easy to follow method of composing contentions includes the three sub-points: Theory, Application and Case Study.


"In this example, the first point is illustrated in detail."

Question: Will Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi win his campaign for re-election? Answer: Yes, because he is seen as an effector of necessary reform.

"First Point" - Koizumi is placing emphasis on the privatization of the Japanese Postal System

Theory - When a candidate focuses their energies on a limited issue that the public supports, they have a greater chance for success.

Application - While Koizumi's approval rating often dips below 50%, his pledge to privatize the Postal System keeps him more popular than any other person or party

Case Study - An Economist article date June 9th, 2005 notes that The Japanese Postal system currently sits at ¥386 trillion ($3.6 trillion) in assets, making it the world's biggest financial institution. It continues to explain that Mr. Koizumi is now close to getting a vote on a bill that will—eventually—turn it over to the private sector.

Impact - Because Prime Minister Koizumi will so effectively reform the postal service he will be seen as an effector of reform which will easily win him the re-election.

"Second Point"dramaTheory Application Case StudyImpact

"Third Point"

Theory Application Case StudyImpact


The conclusion is an opportunity to recap the ideas discussed in the speech and contains many elements of the introduction. A conclusion may look like this:

*"Question" - A word-for-word restatement of the question.
*"Answer" - A review of the answer and points discussed.
*"Tie to Introduction/Conclusion" - This should be along the same lines as the opening attention getter. The same 'vehicle' or theme (for example, an anecdote about Margaret Thatcher) is employed to conclude the speech as was used initially to introduce it. A clever closing line is common place and many strong competitors will remind the judge of the question, while simultaneously referencing the theme discussed in the introduction and conclusion.


External links

* [http://www.extempprep.org Extempprep.org]
* [http://www.nflonline.org The National Forensic League]
* [http://www.tocextemp.com Tournament of Champions in Extemporaneous Speaking]
* [http://ncfca.org NCFCA]
* [http://www.geocities.com/kyextemper Extemp Question Central]

News Sources

* [http://news.google.com Google News]
* [http://news.yahoo.coom Yahoo News]
* [http://cnn.com CNN]
* [http://extempers.net Extempers.NET]
* [http://www.economist.com The Economist]

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Foreign Extemporaneous Speaking — International Extemporaneous Speaking (also called Foreign International Extemporaneous Speaking, and variously contracted to International Extemp, Foreign Extemp, FX, FEX, or IX) is a style of competitive speaking sponsored by the National… …   Wikipedia

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