Fun fact: Surveys spanning decades have concluded that the fear of public speaking surpasses fears of flying, illness, terrorism, and even the daunting fear of death. Extemporaneous speaking is slightly less frightening since, unlike an impromptu speech that gives no preparation time, this kind of speech allows the speaker a short time to prepare her speech. However, delivery is done without notes, an outline, or manuscript, making this type of speaking conversational and personable in nature. Choosing an extemporaneous speech topic for students should be done carefully; topics relating to cultural influences, politics, and environmental or personal issues will hopefully stir excitement or passion in the students, which can make extemporaneous speaking less overwhelming.
Many students have strong connections or opinions about one or more cultural practices or issues. For an extemporaneous speech, consider topics relating to sexuality, governmental censorship, racism, ethics, imperialism, gender and class. A few extemporaneousspeech topics for consideration might be:
"Should the government have the authority to censor what information the news broadcasts?"
"How can this country reduce the gap between social classes?"
"Should the government have the authority to set an ethical code to live by?"
Political matters, issues or ideas are never in short supply. Current political goings-on provide a solid base for potential topics. Using past or ongoing issues as possible subjects can be effective as well. For example:
"Should the government fund agencies that advocate abortion through citizens' tax dollars?"
"How have the political parties changed since the country's founding?"
"Why is apathy about politics more widespread now than in past decades?"
As environmental issues continue to rise to the forefront of news and activism, choosing environmental topics for extemporaneous speaking often results in compelling speeches. Focus on environmental issues that are particularly prevalent where you live. Alternately, worldwide environmental issues could allow the speaker to expand his geographical horizons. Consider these topics:
"Should laws require citizens to recycle on a regular basis?"
"How can you improve environmental awareness within your community?"
"What poses the biggest threat to the environment in America?"
Personal speeches can reveal unknown facts about your students' lives. Allowing students the opportunity to speak about what they know -- their experiences, achievements and challenges -- can serve as a comfortable starting point for teaching students how to speak extemporaneously. Try these topics:
"Introduce yourself to the class by giving some interesting facts about you."
"What was the best night of your life, and why?"
"Tell the class, in detail, about where you see your life in 10 years."
Without the distraction of notes or the full speech in writing, try to make connections with audience members by making eye contact and using body language as well as expressive facial gestures.