In the third round, contestants choose one of four possible topics for a 2-3 minute impromptu speech.  Visitors wait outside the classroom for 10 minutes while students plan their speeches (note cards and pencils are provided).  The speech should contain a brief introduction, two to three main points for development, and a logical conclusion.  Only notes prepared during the ten-minute preparation period may be used during delivery.  Note cards are collected at the end of the 10-minute period and held by the judge’s assistant until it is the student’s turn to speak.  When the judge’s assistant has finished collecting each contestant’s note cards, the classroom doors will be opened, allowing observers to enter.   

Students share the topic (word) they have chosen and then begin their speech.  Contestants are penalized for speeches that exceed or fall short of the 2-3 minute time limit for all grade levels.

Planning Your Impromptu Speech

Remember, you will be judged on how well you develop a speech on the word/topic provided.  You cannot prepare a speech prior to the tournament.

When the round begins, the judge’s assistant will offer each contestant a slip of paper containing four words. For example, “truth,” “trouble,” “brothers,” “keys.”  Below, you will find a sample of words from a previous year’s tournament. All four categories change annually.

Participants choose one of the four words as the topic of their speech. Use your 10 minutes to write an outline for your speech on the index card provided. This will ensure that you have enough to talk about for 2-3 minutes and that the elements of your speech tie together.


1st Point with 3 supporting details

2nd Point with 3 supporting details

3rd Point with 3 supporting details

Conclusion/Wrap Up   

Some ideas for tackling a challenging topic:

  • You might use the topic as a metaphor for something else: “Life is like a bowl of cherries…”
  • Think of unique direction you could take with the topic, such as:
    • The first time you encountered something
    • The topic’s good and bad points as opposite sides to the topic
    • The topic as viewed by different people
  • Don’t try to be funny unless you can pull it off.

Think of a “canned” first line to get started, such as ___________________

“….., now that’s an interesting subject”,

 “How funny, I was just thinking about ……the other day.”

 “……, we can’t live with it, …… we can’t live without it.”

At the end of the 10 minutes, you will give your card to the judge’s assistant, but will get the card back when it is your turn to deliver your speech.

Sample topics a student might choose from:

  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Esther Forbes, Johnny Tremain
  • The Eiffel Tower
  • Badlands National Park

Round Three Impromptu Judge Scoresheet