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Interview with Iain Lampert about Impromptu Speaking and Judging

On July 5, 2011, on behalf of Rate Speeches, Nura Kawa conducted an interview with Iain Lampert, high-school 2010 California State Champion in Impromptu Speaking.The interview was about effective impromptu speaking judge feedback comments and impromptu speaking techniques.

Nura:

When reading judges' feedback, what are the most effective comments that help you improve?

Iain:

Comments that provide solutions for perceived problems are the best. For example, when a comment critiques an individual's presentational style--rate of speech, tone of voice, etc.--it would ideally then tell the speaker how to fix this problem, perhaps by giving an example of a famous speaker to watch and emulate.

Nura:

What is the best way to organize an impromptu speech?

Iain:

Introduction (an entertaining anecdote or example that illustrates a general theme that will be discussed in the speech proper),

Thesis (states what the topic is, and how the topic relates to the judge/listener),

Signposting (discusses the three primary points that will be discussed in the body of the speech),

Point number one,

Point number two,

Point number three (for all of the above points, it's best to use a very specific example, be it literary, historical, cinematic, or personal),

Conclusion (restates the thesis, shows how the points uniquely and explicitly support the thesis, and ties it back to the introduction).

Nura:

What is the best method of planning an impromptu speech?

Iain:

It's best to plan the speech with the above outline in mind. Choose the first topic that catches your eye and stick to it, so as to not waste any time.

Quickly choose a simple thesis and the first three unique examples that come to mind that support that thesis, and memorize the order of presentation.

Finally, think of your introduction, and how you'll rephrase it for your conclusion.

Nura:

In what ways can a person improve his ability to speak on the spot?

Iain:

Practice makes perfect. Raise your hand often in class and inspire discussions so that you get experience with off-the-cuff speaking. Observe Extemp and Impromptu champions on Youtube and NFLTV, as well as great Improv comedians, such as the Whose Line Is It Anyway? cast. Once you're confident in your presentational style, treat every new thing you learn as a potential Impromptu example; chances are, you'll be able to apply anything learned in your History class and anything you see on TV to an Impromptu speech. The combination of confidence and an endless supply of applicable anecdotes will mean a lot.

Nura:

What is the most effective way to practice for impromptu speaking?

Iain:

After applying the above advice, give practice speeches in front of your team and parents on ANY topic they give you, no matter how ridiculous. At the highest level, which you should aim for, you should be able to construct a decent speech with under 30 seconds of prep time.