Extemporaneous speaking

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Extemporaneous Speaking, colloquially known as Extemp, is a limited-preparation speech event based on research and original analysis. Extemporaneous Speaking is a competitive speaking event in the US in both high school and college forensics competition. Extemporaneous Speaking provides 30 minutes of preparation time, followed by a seven-minute speech. When preparation starts, speakers are offered three questions to answer. Questions are based on current affairs, and topic areas generally include international and domestic policy, economic policy, and social or scientific issues. Speakers generally speak persuasively, though some areas of the US are offering informative speeches.[1][2]


According to Pausanias (6.18.6), Anaximenes was "the first who practised the art of speaking extemporaneously."

Basic information and format[edit]

Extemporaneous speaking is a speech that is either persuasive or informative in nature. At top levels, extemporaneous is a smooth, dynamic performance that incorporates research, background knowledge, and opinion. A successful extemporaneous speech has an introduction that catches the listener's attention, introduces the theme of the speech, and answers the question through three, or sometimes ten, areas of analysis which develop an answer to the question. These areas of analysis are followed by a conclusion, which summarizes the speech. Extemporaneous speaking sometimes allows for the use of index cards, but many extemporaneous competitors forgo their usage, and many forensic leagues do not allow their usage. The use of the Internet is often not allowed during preparation.

Debate and public speaking (collectively called "forensics") are generally stratified into novice and varsity levels. A varsity level extemporaneous speech typically contains anywhere from 6 - 15 sources, while averaging 8-10, to provide a basis of fact for analyzing the question. References are often referred to as a "cite" or "citation." Quality sources include newspapers like the New York Times and Christian Science Monitor, magazines like the Economist and Foreign Policy and journals like the The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs and Foreign Affairs. For a speech dealing with a certain region's issues, say Africa or the Middle East, it is good to include regional sources as well, like All Africa and Al Jazeera respectively.

During the speech, competitors are evaluated by way of comparison to the other speakers in a 'round' of competition. Generally, there are five to seven competitors in a given round. Judges give speakers time signals to help them pace their presentations, usually starting from five minutes remaining. Judges rank all students in a room in order, with the first rank being the best and the worst speaker ranked last (sixth, for example in a round of six competitors).

In High School competition, the National Forensic League (NFL), Stoa USA, the National Christian Forensics and Communication Association (NCFCA) and the National Catholic Forensic League (CFL) host most Extemp tournaments in High School. Both leagues have a national tournament at the end of every year, with the NFL tournament drawing a larger number of competitors. There is also the Extemporaneous Speaking Tournament of Champions, held each May at Northwestern University. In addition, there are highly prestigious "circuit" tournaments, as in Policy debate, Public Forum, and Lincoln-Douglas. These include the Glenbrooks Tournament in Chicago, the Yale Invitational at Yale University, the Patriot Games at George Mason University, the Barkley Forum at Emory University, the Berkeley Tournament in University of California, Berkeley, and the Invitational at Harvard University. There are also two major round-robins, held at George Mason University and at Montgomery Bell Academy (MBA).

In collegiate competition, the American Forensic Association (AFA) and the National Forensic Association (NFA) are the organizations responsible for Extemporaneous speaking. Collegiate competition is almost identical to High School competition, with most tournaments hosted by Universities. The AFA hosts a National Individual Events Tournament (NIET), usually in April. The NFA hosts a separate tournament with easier qualification requirements known as NFA Nationals. Additionally, collegiate competition consists of dozens of tournaments across the country, like the Norton Invitational, hosted by Bradley University, and the Hell Froze Over swing tournament.[3][4]

Current rankings[edit]

The Rankings for High School Extemporaneous Speaking are maintained by two organizations: Extemp Central[5] and the Institute for Speech and Debate.[6] Both use a points system which assigns points to tournaments on the national circuit based on the size of each tournament's field, and its prestige.

National Points Race Results 2015-2016[edit]

Ranking Name Point Total School
1 Justin Graham 239 Trinity Preparatory School (Winter Park, FL)
2 Nathaniel Saffran 210 Trinity Preparatory School (Winter Park, FL)
3 Marshall Webb 140 Saint Mary's Hall (San Antonio, TX)
4 Jacob Thompson 138 Des Moines Roosevelt High School (Des Moines, IA)
5 Brian Xu 118 San Marino High School (San Marino, CA)
6 Justin Cooper 102 Scarsdale High School (Scarsdale, NY)
7 Varun Bhatia 88 Trinity Preparatory School (Winter Park, FL)
8 Vaikunth Balaji 85 Ridge High School (Ridge, NJ)
9 Daniel Drane 83 Des Moines Roosevelt HS (Des Moines, IA)
10 Jacob Levenson 62 Nova Senior High School (Davie, FL)

Past Champions in Extemporaneous Speaking[edit]

Past AFA Champions in Extemporaneous Speaking[edit]

  • 2015: Farrah Bara (University of Texas at Austin)
  • 2014: Colin Metcalf (University of Alabama)
  • 2013: Michael Scott (George Mason University)
  • 2012: Christy Liu (University of Texas at Austin)
  • 2011: David Kumbroch (University of Alabama)
  • 2010: Will Bellows (George Mason University)
  • 2009: David Kumbroch (University of Alabama)
  • 2008: Jesse Ohl (Kansas State University)
  • 2007: Jesse Ohl (Kansas State University)
  • 2006: Liz Coleman (New York University)
  • 2005: Stephanie Cagniart (University of Texas at Austin)
  • 2004: Audrey Mink (California State Long Beach)
  • 2003: Jason Warren (Northwestern University)
  • 2002: Audrey Mink (California State Long Beach)
  • 2001: John Parsi (Arizona State University)
  • 2000: Hiren Patel (Rice University)
  • 1999: Chris Kristofco (St. Joseph's University)
  • 1998: Nance Riffe (George Mason University)
  • 1997: Matthew Whitley (University of Texas at Austin)
  • 1996: Ted Scutti (Southern Colorado University)
  • 1995: Jeff Archibald (Cornell University)
  • 1994: Tim Shultz (Kansas State University)
  • 1993: Mark Price (University of Colorado Boulder)
  • 1992: Rita Rahoi (University of Wisconsin Eau Claire)
  • 1991: Scott Cummings (University of Texas at Austin)
  • 1990: Kim Fisher (Arizona State University)
  • 1989: Larry Rosenberg (Cornell University)
  • 1988: Andrew Jacobs (University of Illinois)

Past NFA Champions in Extemporaneous Speaking[edit]

  • 2015: Farrah Bara (University of Texas at Austin)
  • 2014: Carolyn Evans (Western Kentucky University)
  • 2013: Alexis Elliot (Western Kentucky University)
  • 2012: Joshua Hiew (Northwestern University)
  • 2011: Joshua Hiew (Northwestern University)
  • 2010: Seth Peckham (Western Kentucky University)
  • 2009: Austin Wright (University of Texas at Austin)
  • 2008: Merry Regan (University of Texas at Austin)
  • 2007: Jill Collum (University of Texas at Austin)
  • 2006: Liz Coleman (New York University)
  • 2005: John Geibel (St. Joseph's University)
  • 2004: Michael Chen (Seton Hall University)
  • 2003: Jason Warren (Northwestern University)
  • 2002: Rob Barnhart (Ohio University)
  • 2001: Matt Ross (Ohio State University)
  • 2000: Greg Lipper (Northwestern University)
  • 1999: Chris Kristofco (St. Joseph's University)
  • 1998: Colin O'Brien (Ohio State University)

Past NCFL champions in extemporaneous speaking[edit]

Past NFL champions in domestic extemporaneous speaking[edit]

Past NFL champions in international extemporaneous speaking[edit]

Past Extemporaneous Speaking Tournament of Champions winners[edit]

Past Montgomery Bell Academy Extemporaneous Round Robin Champions[edit]

  • 2015-Josh Wartel, (Lake Braddock Secondary School, Virginia)
  • 2014-Lily Nellans (Des Moines Roosevelt High School, Iowa)
  • 2013-Lily Nellans (Des Moines Roosevelt High School, Iowa)
  • 2012-Lily Nellans (Des Moines Roosevelt High School, Iowa)
  • 2011-Nabeel Zewail (San Marino High School, California)
  • 2010-Dillon Huff (Southlake Carroll High School, Texas)
  • 2009-Matt Arons (Millburn High School, New Jersey)
  • 2008-Becca Goldstein (Newton South High School, Massachusetts)
  • 2007-Tex Dawson (Plano West High School, Texas)
  • 2006-Alex Stephenson (Eagan High School, Minnesota)
  • 2005-Kevin Troy (Eagan High School, Minnesota)
  • 2004-Josh Bone (Milton Academy, Massachusetts)
  • 2003-David Tannenwald (Newton South High School, Massachusetts)
  • 2002-Rana Yared (Nova High School, Florida)
  • 2001-Andrew Korn (Syosset High School, New York)
  • 2000-Brian Garfield (Dowling Catholic High School, Iowa)
  • 1999-Jay Cox (Milton Academy, Massachusetts)


  1. ^ "NFL Competition Events Guide". National Forensic League. Retrieved 2013-11-22. 
  2. ^ "AFA Events Guide". American Forensics Association. 
  3. ^ "AFA Nationals Manual". American Forensics Association. 
  4. ^ "NFA Nationals Manual". National Forensic Association. Retrieved 2013-11-22. 
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Sheard, Robert. "Debate Rankings - Extemp". Debate Rankings. Institute for Speech and Debate. Retrieved 11 June 2014.