Impromptu Speaking

Impromptu is an event where students have seven minutes to select a topic (prompt), brainstorm their ideas, and deliver a speech. Impromptu topics can include proverbs, ordinary objects, events, quotations and famous people. In each round, all students will draw from the same list of topics. A different subject area will be used for each round.

For each competition round, students will be assigned to a room with a judge present. All students will check in with the judge and then wait outside the room until they are called in for their turn to speak. When the student is brought into the room, they are given three topics and asked to choose one. The two unchosen topics will be returned to the question pool. The topic that is chosen will be eliminated from the question pool. As soon as the topic is chosen, the student shall prepare a speech without consultation and without reference to prepared notes or research materials. The student may make limited notes on one 3” x 5” note card.

Impromptu speeches are unique in that they require effective organization in a short period of time. An Impromptu speech typically follows a basic structure in which a student presents an introduction, body, and conclusion. Make sure speeches have a clear structure, are using transitions between each part of the speech, and follow a logical trajectory. Although Impromptu is a test of a student’s ability to think on their feet and present a logical, organized speech, delivery skills are important! Beyond the content, students should also focus on their voice, movement, and expression.

Time limit: The maximum time for preparation and speaking is 7 minutes. There is no minimum time requirement, but the contestant must cover the subject adequately. The student may divide this time in any way they see fit. The judge must provide the student with oral time signals, indicating the amount of time remaining until the student begins speaking. The judge will then provide the student with visual time signals of time remaining until the seven-minute period has expired.

We note that while this event is offered at WACFL Tournaments, and many other tournaments, it is NOT offered at NCFL Nationals. Students cannot qualify to Nationals in this event.

Summary of Judging Criteria

  • Organization: Does the student have a clear structure to their speech? Are transitions used to move effectively between each part of the speech? Does the development of the speech make sense?
  • Analysis Does the student directly address the prompt? Does the student develop justifications for their ideas and establish significance to the points?
  • Delivery Does the student use voice, movement, and expression effectively? Is the speaker confident? Is there consistent eye contact? Is the volume appropriate?