Boone County High School Forensics


Extemporaneous Speaking 


In extemp, you will attend a prep room thirty minutes before a round begins. At occasional intervals, you will randomly draw three questions about current issues and choose one. You then have thirty minutes to prepare a speech that answers the question.


Questions range in topic, but they will all be about current events such as international relations, domestic social issues, etc.


To prepare your speech, you will use sources such as news articles (called files); however, these articles must be saved to a computer prior to the tournament because you are not allowed to use the internet. Any information you mention from a source must be cited verbally by including the source name and date (e.g. “In a January 15 article from The New York Times…”).


Once your thirty minutes are up, you will perform a speech of no more than seven minutes. You may use a 3×5 index card while speaking, but this is not required.  


Tips and Tricks:

  • To be successful in extemp, you must have access to up-to-date news articles before the tournament. Aim to spend a few hours a week saving these news articles onto a flash drive or computer folder that can be accessed without the internet (a process called filing). To file successfully, scour credible sources ranging in topic, and stay knowledgeable about current events. Credible sources include unbiased news sources. Stay away from obviously biased news platforms, television news, or propaganda (Fox, MSNBC, Breitbart, etc.)


  • To stay up-to-date about current events, download a few news apps on your phone and turn on notifications for major stories. This will also help you determine which topics to file.


  • Often times, the tournament will provide you with the topics for each round (e.g. Round 1 Domestic social issues, Round 2 Domestic economics, Round 3 International politics, Finals International relations). Prepare your files based on these topics


  • While you are allowed to use a notecard, the most successful extempers do not; it is much harder to wean yourself off a notecard once you start using one. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking without a notecard, try only using it for the most important information and slowly using it less and less.


  • You must cite your sources and you must be accurate. Lying about your sources is grounds for disqualification.


  • While there is no declared format for your speech, aim to stay organized and specific in your answer. An example of a strong organization is:


  1. Introduction to a topic with a statistic, quotation, etc. Make sure you cite a source.

  2. Statement of the question, your answer to the question, and your main points

  3. Main points. Aim to have 3 points, but 2 or 4 are sometimes okay. In each point, find a way to rephrase the question/answer at the beginning and end, and restate your point at the beginning and end too. Many judges will not know the specifics of the topic and they forget easily, so it is imperative to repeat yourself.

  4. Conclusion to the topic. Restate your question, answer, and main body points and end with a strong statement.

For an example of how an outline may look, click here.


  • To help with organization, walk a few paces each time you move onto a different main point. For an example of an extemp walk, watch this speech from NSDA finals. 


  • While diction, enunciation, and other speaking skills are imperative, make sure you also focus on delivering strong content in your speech.


For more detailed practicing tips, check out the KHSSL handbook (Extemp begins on page 23).