5 tips for doing well in an extempore presentation

Extempore forms an important part of admission process in a number of B-schools. In this article, we shall try to understand the various challenges in an extempore speech, and how to manage these challenges through a superior performance.
Understand the challenge
  • An extempore speech is an impromptu speech which the candidate is required to make on a topic given there and then. No prior preparation is permissible.
  • An extempore presentation tests the candidate on the following:-
    • Ability to think off the feet : Since the candidate is required to speak on the spur of the moment, it gauges the candidate’s ability to think, organize and speak there and then.
    • Analysis of the topic and identification of the issue to be addressed : An extempore has a huge probability of going in a random and directionless manner if proper analysis does not precede the speech. The candidate is advised to understand the key issues which need to be addressed and then logically position them to create a coherent and well knitted presentation.
    • Idea generation : The biggest challenge in an extempore speech is to come out with a quick sequence of ideas. This assumes even stronger proportions because of limited time available for the task.
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    • Prioritization and sequencing to display logical thinking :The challenge is not just to speak under time pressure, but also to make logical sense  through systematic and rational listing of ideas. This becomes even more critical if the topic is an abstract one and hence dependent on one’s perception.
    • Ability to connect with the panel : Conventionally, the time available for an extempore presentation ranges from one to five minutes. In this limited time span, the candidate is expected to do justice to the topic, which is more likely to happen if he connects well with the panel.
    • Communication skills : These are important as the effectiveness of the presentation is critically determined by communication skills – both verbal and non-verbal. While articulation, fluency and modulation are key determinants of verbal effectiveness; energy, eye contact and gestures mark the efficacy of non-verbal connect.
    • Overall presentation skills- like body language, confidence, poise & composure – also have an important role to play in enhancing the quality of the extempore speech.
Mental Preparation
  • Know what to speak before delivering speech. Ponder over the topic for some time and prepare the flow of delivery. Your previous extempore practice sessions would surely help here.
  • Understand the audience - the direction they are most likely to accept, helps in framing the flow of speech.
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Handle mental blocks smartly
  • At times, when you get blank about what to speak, try to manoeuvre yourself out of the situation gracefully by avoiding being nervous. Candid smiles also help and for such situations it is better to have back up plans.
Control on speech
  • Don't get emotional about the respective topic, avoid getting too personal on sensitive matters and don't deviate from the topic.
  • For a satisfactory performance, it is always better to use your knowledge in an intelligent way with a control on the speech. Emotional attachment with the topic may be detrimental to the overall performance, as it may limit you to only dimension of the topic.
Presenting both sides
  • Incase of controversial topics,the candidate may choose to explore both sides, a stand which becomes difficult to take in case of GDs due to challenges of group dynamics.
  • In an extempore, since the candidate is the only person speaking, it becomes possible for a smart, strategic speaker to discuss both aspects of the controversial topic. However, one has to be careful about the time constraints while taking this stand.
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