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“There are, then, these three means of effecting persuasion. The man who is to be in command of them must, it is clear, be able (1) to reason logically, (2) to understand human character and goodness in their various forms, and (3) to understand the emotions-that is, to name them” (Aristotle). One of the most famous philosophers of all time, Aristotle, outlined these three principles that are necessary for proper persuasion, more commonly referred to as ethos, pathos, and logos. While I am sure that most public speaking competitors are well-aware of these three principles, I think that one is often forgotten in extemporaneous: pathos. While this event is focused on analyzing real-world issues from any number of countries, trade organizations, or international groups with facts and logic, the only way to make this relevant to your judge is through a pathos connection, a real and tangible interaction with their emotion. Now, I know what you are probably thinking here: “How am I supposed to make an emotional connection between an election in Zimbabwe and the random person who is judging me?” I promise you that it’s possible. Here are 2 key ways you can make an impact in your extemp speeches:

1 – How this affects America today

If possible, this should be your impact every single time. After all, your judges are American citizens, so impacting your question back to them is what will really make them remember your speech. This may sound hard, but it really isn’t as hard as you might think. Pretty much every global event affects the United States in some way, shape, or form. The war in Ukraine? Draining U.S. resources. The Israel-Hamas conflict? Attack against U.S. allies. Disruption of the supply chain in Mexico? Major U.S. trade partner. Nearly every global event has some effect on the global economy, and by extension, the United States. Pointing this out to the judge will make all of the facts you previously listed to the judge actually mean something. Now, not only do they know why the supply chain in Mexico is being disrupted, but they know how it will affect the value of the U.S. dollar if it continues. Once you connect your speech to the judge, it makes it much more memorable. Before your impact, you were a smart competitor who understood economics. But after your impact, you were a competitor who could make this random topic matter to them: this truly sets you apart.

2 – Human rights

While this is not necessarily relevant to all possible topics, it is to the vast majority of them, and the impact here is undeniable because it appeals to the judge’s humanity. While your judges may have different political, religious, and social beliefs, they are all human. They all care about the protection of human rights, whether it is because their own could be affected later or simply because they care about others. If you can bring their humanity into your impact, especially in Christian leagues, the effect your speech has is undeniable. While impacts on America can be contested, the effect on human rights is something constant. Any topic really can affect human rights, even an election in Zimbabwe. Find some evidence that a particular candidate may not be pursuing democracy, or that they don’t support a particular right, and now your speech means so much more to your judge. It is no longer just about whether or not some nameless individual across the world gains some power: now your judges have the facts and the tangible effect this leader will have on their fellow man. 

If you can utilize either one of these methods (or even both), your speech will mean so much more to a judge who isn’t as well-versed in international events as you are. Impact is what makes your speech stand out: make sure that you use it. 

 Hannah Cavanaugh competed in the NCFCA for 6 years, during which she became National Champion in Lincoln-Douglas Speaking and Moot Court. She is currently studying Law and National Security at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia. If you want to book coaching with Hannah, Click here.

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