Extemporaneous speaking as one of the most challenging CDE's because of the unknown factor. The possible topics are so vast that competing in even local competitions that the experience can be paralyzing. While the general topics help, there is still a large area of specific issues that can be used in the actual event. As a judge of extemp on more than one occasion I'd like to offer some do's and dont's for speakers.
First off, that prepared 1 minute filler paragraph that you prepare before you get to the contest, even novice judges see right through that. The filler is so general that it just doesn't apply to the topic. It confuses the judges to the point where we might miss something meaningful in your real speech when you actually get on topic. Unfortunately, we are trying to figure out what the first minute was all about. Please leave it at home and follow my instructions below.
A better way to fill that first minute is to list the points that you will discuss in your speech. This goes back to the "tell them what you are going to tell them" in the introductory paragraph of your speech.
Your first sentence of the introduction summarizes the topic you will discuss. "Today I am speaking on the importance of a livestock SAE project and the benefits provided to the student."
The second sentence or two explains to us why this topic is important and worth discussing. "Livestock SAE projects are more than being able to take care of a cow, goat, or hog for a semester. While working with an animal is fun, there are social and personal benefits that students learn that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives."
The third sentence is where you list your 3 or 4 key points that you will expand on in your speech. "Livestock projects require personal responsibility, self motivation, financial discipline, and organization skills to maintain the health and well being of the animal as well a to complete a successful project."
Now use a sentence or two to briefly say why these 3 or 4 points pertain to the topic and move on to the main body of your speech. "The points are not just catch phrases that sound good to parents. Each of these points are necessary skills that students carry with them throughout their careers and will one day pass on to their children. Without a hands-on project to practice these skills, students often only read about these concepts in a book and never appreciate the value that comes from experience."
You have just outlined your entire speech and the judges know it. Now stick to these points and watch the speech flow like you have worked on it for months. We continue this discussion in part 2