Boone County High School Forensics


Extemporaneous Speaking


Extemp can be a tricky one to practice because it is so extensive. Any student competing in extemp should aim to do a practice speech at least once a week, and you should encourage students to practice extemp speeches informally at home too. Here are a few things to keep in mind when practicing extemp with students.


  • Have a few questions prepared in advance for students to choose from, just like they would in a normal tournament. You can create these questions yourself or you can pull them from websites such as Extemp Central. In fact, Extemp Central is a great resource to use for both filing (you can file the topics of questions) and practice. While it is not guaranteed, some schools will even use Extemp Central questions for their tournament.


  • Since you can’t stop-and-start an Extemp performance like you could a prepared speech, take notes of questions or feedback and share with the student afterward.


  • Strong extemp speeches are a mix of content and performance, so try to focus equally on both. Make sure you are aware of the “extemp walk” along with effective hand gestures and voice inflection so you can tell students how to strengthen performances.


  • There is a lot of news and content to keep up with for extemp, and you may not know all the answers to the topics students are giving a speech on. That’s okay! In fact, you are in a similar position to most judges who only know the basic news and not the specific details. You can still judge a speech’s content by judging how effectively they answer the question, if they even answer the question (more relevant to non-yes/no questions), if their points are distinct, etc.


  • It will be more beneficial for a student to practice giving speeches during practice sessions, but occasionally, it’s okay for them to spend practice time filing (however, they should also be filing outside of practice sessions).


  • For new students or students who are having trouble, it may help to break the extemp process down. For example, you could walk through the process of planning a speech with them. Show them how they can scan sources to find an answer to a question. To scaffold the process, work on the answer/speech to one question. Write down ideas for the first point yourself, explaining the process to the student. Then, work with the student to plan the second point. Finally, have the student plan the third point by themselves.


  • If at any point, you notice that a student isn’t using sources, isn’t citing sources, or might be fudging sources, point it out. If a student is having trouble remembering sources, brainstorm strategies to remember sources that are specific to the student’s needs and thought processes.


  • If a student is using a notecard, help the student learn to not rely on it. This may be a long process, so it may help to set a goal at the beginning of the semester (e.g. By, January, I want you to be off the notecard). Then, encourage the student to use the notecard less and less by noting how much content they write on it, how much they refer to it while speaking, etc. At some point, you may have to simply tell the student to not use the notecard. The student may be anxious about this, so recognize their nervousness and encourage them afterward before developing stronger strategies to speak without a notecard.


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