Mastering the Extempore

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extempore

What to speak, how to speak?

The word ‘extempore’ sends shock waves in most able speakers. It is like delving into the unknown. On the contrary, many orators are masters of the extempore and can hook an audience’s attention by their sheer verbal energy and presence.

An extempore is a speech made for a certain amount of time- mostly 1 ½ to 2 minutes or in some cases 3 to 5 minutes. The extempore, which truly tests your public speaking skills, has no defined formula on how to go about it. You can always surprise your audience with your spontaneous outburst of information or emotion depending on the topic.

Seven important tips to ace the extempore

Reading

extempore

Reading is the most important aspect of mastering the extempore. The more you read about everything under the sun, all the more you will benefit from it. Since childhood, if you have had an affinity towards reading, your habit shall hold you strong. If not, you need to get your act together. To begin with, start reading about things you like. Slowly increase your daily reading time. Recently, Bill Gates tweeted about a 6-year-old boy who went on to do an extreme reading activity. He was actually reading underwater, most probably a waterproof book, with an oxygen mask in place.

Stay knowledgeable and updated

Extempore

Being aware of the current trends – local, national as well as global – gives you a quick boost as you can connect those topics with your extempore topic. Your audience would be delighted if they can relate to the information that you pass on this way. People love to know about the trending things. So here is your chance to earn more points for your speech. For example – if your topic is ‘Compassion towards animals’. Your initial points will cover how the said topic is a direct reflection of humanity. To add to it you could also talk about the recent drive held by Motopaws all over India for stray dogs. If at all there are some animal activists in the audience you might win them over with your impromptu speech. So, be updated on what’s happening in the world through the Internet, or news apps like In short, or you could subscribe to news notifications online. This works like a charm, indicating that you are always alert to your surroundings.

Watch yourself in the mirror

mirror

Isn’t this probably your most favorite activity to pass your time? Now make it work for you. While you speak, watch your expressions preferably in a full-length mirror. Too much use of hand gestures to express things could be distracting. Use subtle but natural hand gestures. Are you tapping that foot to some imaginary music? Stop. Breathe, calm down. Focus completely on yourself. Do not move or pace forward and backward. Remember, that you are a confident individual talking to an audience which is eager to listen to you. Watching yourself in the mirror has to do with body language. You must be sure about what you need to speak.

Inspirational words

Priti Raggoo-Alqasmee, a native French speaker and teacher, with 13 years of experience, currently with RIMS, NIBM Road, says, “If students attempt to speak for an extempore in a foreign language, first switch their thinking and brain process from English to French! Let them find words in their French Vocabulary, crosscheck structure and gender as both are different! Be careful with ‘fauz amis’ which means false cognate, e.g. – attendre (wait)/attend, envie (wish for)/envy.”

Eye Contact

Keep your audience hanging on to your every word. To do this, you must cover the entire expanse of your audience and not fixate on one particular individual. Don’t stare or even if you do, don’t look away. This is not a game of who blinks first. Eyes are the true mirror of your soul. What you say, has to be said with conviction; and your eyes should not betray that emotion. If you are not sure about a certain fact, admit it to the audience. Avoid harping on the wrong facts. Do not ever make the mistake of underestimating your audience. The trick is to be unpredictable and not let out your next move or thought.

Three Main Points

When you are given the topic, start with the three main points which first come to your mind. Elaborate each point, if possible, give an example to back your point. This is a good start. Examples give you a chance to silently think on the back-end if you can relate these points to current news or events happening in your city. Here’s how you could start off if your topic is abstract, for example, the color red. You could say, “Red stands for danger, for Santa Claus, as also most cell phone companies to maximize appeal towards their product. Red is an attractive color. It is also the first thing we learn in school as alphabet A is an apple which is red in color.” Here is your chance to capture your audience’s attention when you talk about how a simple color red is used for advertising products. One thing just leads to another in an extempore. Hold on and ride the roller-coaster of words.

Imagination is the key

Seize a topic. Create a visual around it. Talk about all that you know regarding it and then let your imagination run wild. Imagination is the prerogative of the most creative speakers and learners. Spin a story so true that anyone hearing it would actually go in search of it. Connect with the audience through the five senses. For example, if your topic is sizzlers, talk about how the smoky aroma teases your senses when you see your food arrive. Get the audience to visualize whatever you speak through the gateway of the mind.

Imagination is the key

Be a storyteller

Remember how you would enjoy every bit of each of the stories your grandparent told you as a kid? If it was a horror story, goosebumps were a given. That does not mean you give your audience goosebumps. It just means that what you speak has to match your emotions and expressions. Do not create drama on the stage but, be the best story-telling version of your grandma or grandpa. Your diction, intonation, and context could well be parameters for you to ace that extempore. Assuming that you have a stronghold on grammar and sentence construction, which should sail you through your speech. It will certainly gain you points for the rest of your verbal presentation.

Don’t forget to practice! Hoping that the above tips would help you nail your extempore speech in school, college or even for your job interview.


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Rohini Joshi is a freelance writer with India Vocal. She writes for the education segment and hopes to bring forth fresh ideas and insights in classrooms through her articles. Supermom with unlimited experience and communication trainer with 13 years of experience. Believes in living every moment to the fullest.