Be yourself. This advice may sound oversimplified and overused, however in impromptu speeches it is key to unlocking success. Impromptu is an opportunity to display who you are to your judges. You have an immense amount of freedom to exercise your speaking skills in ways that are unique to this speech category. There is no set demeanor or persona that is expected. Unlike in other speeches or debate styles where students typically adopt a particular style or structure, impromptu is essentially a wild west where anything goes. This is something that you ought to maximize as a competitor. You have the ability to showcase your creativity to your judge. To take full advantage of this opportunity, you must ensure your mindset is in the right place. Prior to entering a round, you should commit yourself to communicating conversationally and naturally with your audience. If you want to accomplish that goal, then you must view your judges as “regular folks.” Do not view them as though they are high and mighty individuals that you must impress. If that is your mindset, then you will inevitably fall flat because your fear will show through. If you appear uncomfortable or nervous your judges will perceive that. That in turn will make them more uneasy while you are communicating. This will lead to a less enjoyable and impactful experience for them which will put a damper on your score. Instead, you should approach talking to them like you would talk to your friends, colleagues, or family. If you were trying to communicate something important to others, you would not talk with them as though they were above you by changing your demeanor. Instead, you would communicate casually in a manner that allowed your personality to shine through. You should approach impromptu speeches in the same way. Treat this as a simple opportunity to address a topic with the knowledge you have to some people in a room while you happen to be wearing a suit. Before entering the round, allow yourself to be excited. You have an uninterrupted allotment of time to discuss ideas and be heard. Instead of dwelling on how this is a competition where you are being scored, view it as a fun opportunity! If you set yourself on this mental trajectory, then you can actually go into your round bubbling with joy and brimming with peace. You can be spunky, relaxed, confident, and quirky. Be authentic! If you genuinely are having a good time while presenting, then your judges will have a good time listening to you. This will elevate your impromptu speeches to the next level. All it takes is being yourself.
Allie Satterfield competed in the NCFCA for four years, and she was the 2023 NCFCA Moot Court National Champion. She is currently attending Patrick Henry College, where she competes in collegiate forensics and is pursuing a major in Political Theory. If you would like to book coaching with Allie, Click Here.