How to Prep Quickly and Effectively in Impromptu Speaking Competitions (Part 2)
After learning in the first part of this article how to quickly select your prompt and built your thesis, let’s head over to the third step.
Step #3: Generate examples to support it.
Here, your goal is to support your thesis with relevant stories. You do not need to come up with clear arguments. Instead, your best strategy is to play the word association game. Let’s try it.
First, identify key actions that your thesis mentions. Say the prompt is, “Birds of a feather flock together.” Assuming you’ve finished steps one and two, you’ve already determined this quote is saying, “Birds from the same family or group will fly together.” Metaphorically, the birds are referring to humans, so the quote could mean, “People from the same groups will act in a similar way to each other.” You decide you agree with the quote and your thesis is: “It’s more important to be similar than to be different.” What are your keywords here? Easy! “Be similar” and “be different.”
Next, turn these key actions into stories. You should already be well prepared with your story bank which you should review before a competition. Why? Because this means you don’t have to come up with new ideas in the limited time you have. Instead, think about the takeaways that you might have written down for some of the stories in your story bank and see if you can connect them with the actions you’ve just identified in your thesis. If you don’t have a story bank or can’t recall anything interesting from it, then think of the last time you heard someone act in this way.
For example, if you like sports, then consider your favorite teams. Do the people in these teams act similarly or differently? Well, in a game, the top athletes are brought together by a common goal, so they need to think similarly. Great! You have your first main point. On your notecard in one line, write three keywords that will allow you to talk about this one example. For instance, you might have: “sportsmanship,” “ball coordination,” and “great minds.” These words will help you provide details for how team players are similar to each other in practice and beliefs, which makes them successful. You can also write down your favorite team name to provide more specific details.
And third, find similar examples to elements of your prompt. Use the language of your prompt where possible. If the quote was, “Birds of a feather flock together,” and one of your ideas was about how “great minds think alike,” you could say that the reason why similar birds flock together is that they have the same purpose or same vision about where they want to go. You don’t need to write this whole
idea down. Instead, just add on your note next to “great minds,” “birds fly with purpose.”
Now do this process two more times in order to generate two more examples. Try to now pick a different category this time like history or music. This step of brainstorming supporting examples should take about 75 seconds – about 25 seconds for each story.
With 15 seconds left, it’s time for the fourth and final step adding the finishing touches with your hook. The brainstorming process here should be similar to how you came up with your three examples: first, identify key actions that your thesis mentions, then turn them into stories, and finally, find similar examples to elements of your prompt. However, with the hook you have the option of including a personal story, which tends to make it easier to talk about. In your last few seconds as you’re getting up to the front of the room or stage, start forming the exact wording of your first sentence, practicing it out loud, so that you don’t go blank as you’re about to start.
We’ll leave you now with one final tip: Don’t feel the need to prepare 100 percent of your story before you begin. Ideas pop up as you go along. Usually, by having about 75 percent of your speech in mind, you can add more details for the final 25 percent. After all, impromptu speaking is all about improvising, and that’s part of the fun!
You’ve now learned how to simplify when brainstorming the meaning of your prompt, your thesis, its three supporting examples, and your hook. Great! Now, quick practice. Make sure you have a timer ready. Put two minutes on the clock. Your prompt is… here. Go!