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Championship Extemping
Written By Mark Royce
Published 2004
217 Pages
Published by Xlibris
Price: $21.99 Paper back, $31.99 Hardback Retail

Extemporaneous speaking is an event which despite its strong academic focus has historically been slighted when it has come to the amount of educational materials devoted towards it. Unlike Policy debate and even Lincoln Douglas debate which there are numerous handbook and evidence briefs produced by various college debaters and high school coaches, extemporaneous speakers have had a rather limited number of books devoted to the event. 'Championship Extemping' is one of the few books on extemp that I am aware of that has been published in recent years. This book organizes itself quite appropriately like an extemporaneous speech with an introduction, 3 points, and a conclusion.

In his chapter on the substance of extemporaneous speaking Mr. Royce gives readers a methodology to try to attack the question at hand by coming up with a logical way to organize their ideas. Unlike some other handbooks we don't see Mr. Royce trying to create a cookie cutter structure for each speech that is very rigid. Instead we see general ideas that can be generalize to many different questions. I found this approach refreshing in the world of extemporaneous pedagogy. In contrast to many books when preparing a file Mr. Royce emphasizes knowing what's in your box rather than just mindlessly filing articles away to be read when you are in the prep room. He demonstrates a light bit of humor in explaining the importance of this when he quips that one doesn't get a Ph.D. in Spanish by putting Spanish words in a file folder entitled “Vocabulario.” His attention to his personal method to organizing files was original and would probably take some getting used to.

In the Chapter 3 in the treatment of style Mr. Royce addresses the importance of stylistic elements in success in extemporaneous speaking. The various stylistic elements that get covered include hand gestures, facial expressions, vocal variety, and appearance. About 15 pages are devoted solely to the topic of whether it is acceptable to 'can' introductions. I personally found the discussion an interesting topic of discussion regarding extemporaneous theory that would interest coaches and some advanced students. His treatment however is probably goes into more depth on his reasoning than many novice extemporaneous speakers would probably like. At the end of the chapter we see a decent treatment of how to come up with a good introduction that a speaker can weave into the speech in a manner that makes the transition to the body seamless.

Chapter 4 addresses the strategy in extemporaneous speaking. This particular chapter cover a hodge podge of different topics. He discusses everything from general ideas on how to judge advice from fellow competitors to what to eat at tournaments. In the discussion of the district tournament he makes one of the few factual errors which I found in the book where he states that each NFL district gets two entries at nationals in each extemporaneous event, foreign and domestic. In reality the number is dependent upon the number of entries at the district tournament itself. This appears to be a case where Mr. Royce generalized his own experiences to the nation as a whole which aren't necessarily true of all areas.(It is worth noting however that most districts do have two entries but some very large and very small will differ from this norm) Perhaps the most noteworthy section for a speaker whose ambitions match Mr. Royce's is his coverage of strategy for preparing for the NFL national championship. There are very few students or coaches who are as familiar with what it takes to get a student to the national finals as Mr. Royce is and very few of those people are willing to disclose what they have learned. The discussion of the national tournament covers the format of the tournament, pre-tournament practice, as well as a review of some suggestions on how to deal with cross examination in the final round.

Finally in chapter 5 he discusses the future of extemporaneous speaking. Mr. Royce covers several different proposals for change in the event some of which are reasonable like allowing electronic retrieval devices to the unusual proposal of changing the focus of topics from current events to historical events. The idea of extemporaneous speaking topics that aren't about current events would so fundamentally change the event that pedagogical arguments aside I don;t think you would ever be able to convince the powers that be at the National Forensic League or any of the local leagues to implement such a change since it wouldn't even be the same event anymore. The problem I see is that I don't think many students would want to do such an event since there would be virtually unlimited number of topic areas and it would be very difficult to prepare for competition.

Overall I would consider this book an excellent addition to your forensics library. The book is reasonably priced yet comprehensive enough to cover most of the issues that students probably face when learning extemporaneous speaking.