An Extemp Tournament Step by Step
Before every round, you will be with the other extempers in the draw room, usually a library or other large room. This is where you will select your topic. A judge or tournament official sits at the head of the room and calls out speakers at seven minute intervals. (“First speakers, please come draw”, etc.) When your number is called, walk up to the table and draw three questions from the envelope or off the table. Look at all three questions and decide which one you are best prepared to answer. Return the other two and walk back to your table.
Preparing the Speech
You have thirty minutes to prepare a speech, beginning from when you were called up to the table. Don't panic! It really is not as bad as it seems. As you walk back to your table, go to the extemp tubs and take out any folders you think might help you answer the question. Return to your speech-writing place and start working. Look over the evidence and familiarize yourself with the topics. Decide how to answer the question and create three points. Add sources to your speech, tie it to your point, and create impacts. Finally, create your intro and conclusion. Now, you're ready to practice the speech. Find a relatively quiet corner in the prep room and start practicing your speech. Don't worry if you make any mistakes : that's what practice is for. Don't worry about memorizing the speech word-for-word, but do memorize your points, your introduction and conclusion, and your sources, so that you can effectively deliver the speech from memory.
A Few Prep Tips
- Many people will tell you that you should spend X number of minutes writing and Y number of minutes preparing your speech. Don't listen to them. When you feel like you're done writing your speech, start to practice it. Develop your own habits that help you.
- Become an “expert” in one or two topic areas, so that you always know you can take a question about those topics. Be familiar, however, with everything, just in case you have to answer a different question.
- NEVER, NEVER, NEVER write out the whole speech. All you need is introduction, three points, support for those points, and conclusion. That provides the most value for every minute of your time.
- Be sure to write out a blank outline on your paper BEFORE the draw. You'd be surprised how much time it saves.
- Get a timer and keep your own prep time. The extemp room manager will announce time at infrequent intervals, but it is always better to always know how much time is remaining.
Giving the speech
Before the draw, you'll have checked to see what room you are delivering the speech in. Perhaps you'll have even gone there beforehand so you know where it is. At any rate, when your 30 minutes has expired, walk to the room. Wait outside until the speaker in the room is finished. If you have extra time, continue practicing your speech. When they leave, follow in behind them, leaving your notes outside. As you enter the room, the judge will be finishing the ballot from the last speaker. Walk up to him or her and hand them the question silently. They will confirm your name or speaker code and write the question on your ballot. Ask what kind of time signals they will be giving. Before you start, ask whether or not the judge is ready. When they acknowledge you, start. Give your speech. Don't worry about getting phrasings exactly like you had them in practice, the judge will never know. Be sure to make eye contact with the judge and anyone else who may be in the room. Make hand gestures when appropriate to add emphasis to your speech. As you see the one minute remaining signal, wrap up your final point and move into your conclusion. Ideally, your speech will be 6:30, but should be somewhere between 6 and 7 minutes. When your speech is finished, wait for the judge to dismiss you and respond appropriately. Do not say “Thank you for judging” or shake the judge's hand. But do be polite.