The Mindset of an Extemporaneous Speaker

There are many tips, tricks, and strategies for improving as an extemporaneous speaker. But how can one address minute changes unless the overall mindset is correct? In this article I will attempt to provide some important tips and strategies for improving as an extemp speaker. But more than anything, I want to challenge you to check your mindset about extemp and allow that to influence all the details of your speeches. I will simply encourage you to be more than a reporter in your extemp speeches. Take it up to the next level; be an analyst. So, what does being an analyst mean in this context?

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Interview- Why Apologetics? By: Elizabeth Tomaszewski

We only have a few more Online Apol. sessions this season… But believe me we are getting excited to start promoting Online Apol. 2017-2018! In the mean time, be blessed with Elizabeth’s interview on why you should do Apologetics!

Elizabeth Tomaszewski, has blessed Online Apol. a number of times year. So far she  has taught on the topics, “What is the purpose of the church?” and a survey of the Category 4 definitions. On April 4 (tomorrow), Elizabeth is planning to speak on the statement analysis question “Heaven is only a state of mind.”

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Guest Post- Gina Reynolds- Impromptu for Life

My friend, Gina Reynolds, blessed us with this post. Being able to think on your feet is a life skill. However, it is a pet-peeve of mine… When competitors decide to compete in Impromptu- and they do NOT practice! Do not be one of those people who only participate in Impromptu at a Speech Tournament. In order to master this skill you need to practice. I would not allow my child or a competitor to compete in Impromptu (which is typically wait listed) unless they practiced. Gina gives great practical advice…

Impromtu For Life… By: Gina Reynolds

You know, I just love a good quote. Quotes can be great discussion starters, provide inspiration and be motivational. What’s more: they are perfect for practicing impromptu speaking.

One of my favorite quotes of all time, Robert Frost said, “Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” 

Why would you or your students want to practice Impromptu speaking? Simple answer: to develop better thinking and speaking skills. Actually, I have found it is an incredible way to develop strong thinking skills. Developing the speaking skills is just a bonus!

Practically speaking, thinking “on our feet” is a skill we all need in life. Have you ever been at a bridal shower and been called out by someone sweetly asking, “…would you give the blessing?” Quick, think! Or how about at a church prayer meeting when the pastor asks, “…would you mind sharing with the group how your Aunt Matilda is doing?” Wow, how do I begin? Maybe, it’s in a more formal setting, like a job interview where you get a question you hadn’t anticipated. You think, how do I answer this? All the while trying to think of a way to verbally stall without rambling!

So how do you practice impromptu speaking with your students or children? It’s simple. Find some “topics” and let them chose one to speak on (see the pdf below.) Then give them a short time, we use two minutes to “prep” for a (hopefully) 5 minute speech. At first it seems daunting, but the more they do it, the better they will get!

What should they do in their “prep” time? Write a bullet point outline. It’s just like writing a regular speech or paper. Have an intro, that hopefully catches attention. Move on to usually 3 main points, each with some sort of illustration or story to support it and finally conclude. This is not the time to write out complete sentences, but encourage words or short phrases that will jog their memory.

Now, put your paper down and give the speech. What? Put the paper down? Yes. Here’s another skill that can be developed through Impromptu speaking, visual recall.

Visual recall will become very important to students, especially if they move on to college. It’s the act of “seeing” what they wrote on the paper, actually visualizing it in their head. Writing notes also helps your brain remember it. It’s really interesting how just writing things down works, but I digress. If you want to know more check out this article on Why We Remember What We Write. Just the fact that your student wrote it down, even if they never look at the paper again, will help them remember their points and stories.

I must confess, I have been slacking. I’m on my last student in our homeschool and we haven’t been doing a lot of creative or fun things. Well this morning I did some long overdue “teacher prep” and made my daughter some new impromptu practice slips. She’s going to love them, they are Dr. Seuss quotes! One of her favorite quotes of all time is , “A persons, a person no matter how small.” Dr. Seuss. I’ve included a pdf download in case you want to use them too. We might as well make the learning fun!

Now, once you’re hooked on the benefits of Impromptu speaking it’s time to polish and hone your skills with us in the NCFCA (National Christian Forensics and Communications Association) and compete in Impromptu. More on that next time….

Gina Reynolds is the wife to Chris for 28 years and the homeschool mother to Logan (23), Taylor (20), Ariel (18) and Lexie (16). She enjoys encouraging and helping other homeschool moms by leading a local co-op, speaking at conventions and women’s events, vrepresenting Total Language Plus curriculum for the states of MI/IN/OH and IL, coaching speech and debate, and blogging on various subjects of interest to many homeschool families (

Alumni Interview- Stefanie Klaves- Why Apol.

Stefanie Klaves competed in NCFCA for four years. Her NCFCA highlights include placing 2nd and 3rd in team policy debate at the 2014 & 2015 National Championship, 1st place in Persuasive at the 2014 Minnesota National Open, and 1st place in Apologetics at four tournaments including the 2016 Region VI Regional Championship. While in high school, she also authored for Monument Publishing’s debate sourcebooks and worked as an intern at the Hildebrand Law Firm LLC.

Stefanie is currently attending a Bible school & ministry internship in Kansas City, Missouri. This upcoming March, she will move to Taipei, Taiwan for a five month YWAM (Youth With A Mission) Discipleship Training School. In the Fall of 2017, she plans to pursue an undergraduate degree in political science. Her dream is to become a lawyer specializing in international law.

1. When did you start competing in apologetics, and how long did you compete?

I started competing in apologetics my second year in NCFCA as a sophomore in high school. I competed through my senior year.

2. Why did you compete in apologetics?

Growing up in a Christian home, I thought I “knew” God and Christian fundamentals. After engaging in a few conversations with Buddhists and Atheist friends, I realized that I couldn’t adequately articulate why I believed what I believed, why the Bible is more reliable than other holy books, or why the Christian faith is preferable to their religious beliefs. Desiring to equip myself for future conversations, I wrote almost 100 apologetics cards over one summer and signed up for apologetics at the next tournament.

3. What is one thing you would do differently if you went back again to do apologetics?

Read books! I wish I would have delved deeper into the apologetics topics by reading Christian classics. I wrote most of my cards by gathering information from websites. However, in the past months I’ve read books that tackle many of the 101 topics with in-depth analysis and explanation. Helpful classics that I wish I read in high school include: Knowledge of the Holy by AW Tozer (This is a must read. What does it mean that God is eternal, omniscient, merciful, and omnipotent?), Knowing God by J. I. Parker (Another great source for Category 1), The Case For Faith by Lee Strobel (Why is there suffering? Why does a loving God send people to hell?), and The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey (Category 5 tool). Taking the extra time to read books will strengthen your speeches and help you stand out. Many speakers I’ve talked to feel that their answers are “too generic”, and that’s mainly because a lot of them (including myself) prepared their speeches from the same, top ten webpages from Google. Reading classics will help you find fresh perspectives and unique illustrations.

4. What was your favorite “moment” while competing in apologetics (favorite ballot, special connection, a conversation, something you studied, etc..)?

Many of the NCFCA apologetics topics include common objections to Christianity. My favorite moments were when I heard those common objections that I studied while writing my apologetics cards in real-world contexts. For example, while street evangelizing at a Haunted House fair, one lady I talked to believed “All matter, energy, and life are an interconnected unity of which we are an inseparable part” along with reincarnation, extra-canonical books, and truth relativism. I loved the opportunity to share what I learned in humility and love.

5. What are you doing now (that you’re done.. out of competition, etc.)?

I just finished a six month bible school internship, and I will be attending a YWAM (Youth With A Mission) Discipleship Training School in Taipei, Taiwan in March. In the fall, I plan to pursue an undergraduate degree in political science and eventually a law degree.

6. Anything else you’d like to say that’s on your heart?

Compete in apologetics for the Lord. I know you want to win tournaments and give perfect speeches, and pursuing excellence is not a bad thing. In high school I spent hours upon hours writing cards and practicing speeches. I gave apologetics speeches to the bathroom mirror, backyard tree, and neighbor cat. When my last Regionals neared, I wanted to speak my absolute best and show the judges I deserved to win. And then… I got sick. My voice was hoarse, my nose was running, and my cough was obnoxious. Perfect presentation? Not going to happen. I was unsure if I’d be able to compete at all. At Regionals I had to reexamine my heart and remind myself of the reason why I decided to compete in apologetics. I surrendered to the Lord and told Him that I was competing for his glory. I put aside fancy language and spoke from the heart. (And you never know what might happen when you do that. At this particular tournament, I placed 1st in Apologetics after all.)

Chap Bettis is joining us… TONIGHT


We are super excited Chap Bettis will be joining our Online Apol Group TONIGHT! We still have more than half a season to grow deeper in Apologetics. Why not consider being a member NOW!?

You can sign up by clicking here.

Apologetics Online meets on Tue. evenings at 8:15-9:15 CST. Chap Bettis will be our guest speaker tonight. Chap is the author of Fearless Apologetics, an excellent apologetics sourcebook, and he is the founder of The Apollos Project. Check it out! He has been involved in the ministry and NCFCA apologetics for many years – prepare to be encouraged!

Online Apologetics – Fall 2016 – Sign up now!


Have you been wanting to start Apologetics, but aren’t sure how to get started?  Did you want weekly accountability in your Apologetics Journey?  Do you want to be better prepared for Apologetics this season?

Don’t hesitate…  Please Register today! 

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Preparing an Impromptu- or Any Written Speech (Part 4)

By: Kristi Eskelund


There ARE things you can do at a tournament, before a round to help you have something to talk about in impromptu. The need is to have LOTS of bits and pieces brought forward to the front of your mind where they are ready for you to use them. Here are a few ways to do that:

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Preparing an Impromptu- or Any Written Speech (Part 1)

By: Kristi Eskelund

imageWhen I was a student myself, I competed in a UIL event called Ready Writing. This essentially was an impromptu essay competition that required competitors to produce an essay on the spot after any given a prompt. It was judged on a number of factors including the articulateness of the response, the ability of the writer to allude to other sources, the use of stylistic devices, and of course, correct usage of grammar and spelling! Years, later, when the College Board added an essay component to the SAT exam, the parameters of that exam looked an awful lot like my old Ready Writing requirements, and at that time I began teaching workshops on how to write that essay for a maximum score. I realized in the process that most of my material actually crossed over into preparing for limited prep speeches as well! The main points I always hit on are developing your structure, content, and style and then getting a LOT of practice! After that, you can develop some real strategies.

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