Extemporaneous Speech Pros and Cons List

An extemporaneous speech is a kind of speech delivery that’s somewhere between an impromptu and a manuscript type of delivery. Usually, to qualify as an extemporaneous speech, the speaker must not have a pre-written speech, but rather a rough outline of how the speech should go. Preparation is limited, but ample time is given for the speaker to come up with a general flow which the discussion will follow. Speakers don’t get to hold on to written chunks of text, but instead, refer to cue cards that outline the next points they should discuss. The entire speech is created as the speaker goes along and points are elaborated according to the speaker’s train of thought.

While extemporaneous speeches do offer more preparation time than an impromptu, they can also be quite tricky especially if you’re not the kind of person who does well without a pre-written guide. Find out the pros and cons of extemporaneous speeches by reading through this list.

List of Pros of Extemporaneous Speech

1. Natural and Spontaneous
The best way to engage your audience is to sound interesting, entertaining, and conversational. Because prepared speeches tend to sound robotic, rehearsed, and insincere, audiences are less likely to engage with or listen to the speaker. This results in a non-dynamic, boring, and often fruitless experience for both the speaker and the listeners. But because an extemporaneous speech requires the speaker to discuss topics based on his or her own train of thought, delivery becomes more fluid and conversational in tone. This has been proven to increase audience engagement, and has been noted to heighten the chances of moving listeners towards action.

2. Flexible
If and when a speaker notices that his or her audience is not responding to their speech in a manner that’s ideal, they will be able to adjust their delivery to better suit the listeners. This is one of the biggest problems with prepared speeches, which limit a speaker’s ability to calibrate and optimize his or her style to best connect with an audience. While giving an extemporaneous speech, a speaker can take cues from the listeners’ reactions and use this feedback mechanism to change the tone, the wording, or the style of delivery for maximum audience engagement.

3. Fewer Limits and Restrictions
Although some might think that preparing a speech makes it possible for a speaker to jot down all their ideas and cover all topics easier and more efficiently, that might not actually be the case. Most of the time, ideas, thoughts, and emotions develop as a speech is delivered, and so those with prepared speeches might have a hard time injecting newly formulated theories and discussions into their manuscript. But an extemporaneous speaker will have all the opportunities to ad-lib, to make room for thoughts that are generated on the spot, and to share ideas anywhere they might be necessary.

List of Cons of Extemporaneous Speech

1. Messy and Unorganized
Someone who doesn’t have the skills and abilities necessary to deliver an extemporaneous speech might have difficulty weaving words together in a logical and organized manner. Even with cue cards, a speaker will have to deliver the discussion based on their own thoughts. Missing out on certain ideas and remembering them later on will require the speaker to inject these ideas in parts of the speech where they might no longer be appropriate, making a very messy and often unorganized delivery. This could cause problems for listeners as an illogical pattern of ideas could be very confusing and hard to understand.

2. Prone to Forgetfulness
Because extemporaneous speeches only allow speakers to have an outline of their discussion, the detailed points per topic will have to come from the mind of the speaker. This means thoughts and ideas are communicated as they come, which can also work against the speaker if they’re likely to forget. As with many extemporaneous speeches, there is often a lot to discuss, and being bombarded with so many thoughts, a speaker is likely to forget some of them. This means that a topic might not be discussed in full detail, especially if some points are accidentally left out.

3. Nervousness
Many people find comfort and ease when delivering a memorized speech or a speech that’s read out word for word. But because an extemporaneous speech does not have a manuscript to follow, speakers could become the victim of nervousness paralysis. A speaker who isn’t used to confronting a large audience may clam up on stage, forgetting points, and failing to engage the audience in a way that properly, effectively, and appropriately communicates ideas. A lot of people who have public speaking nervousness issues might not be best suited for extemporaneous speeches, especially that this type of speech requires a fluid train of thought and an ability to handle a speaking event with minimal preparation.