Extemporaneous Speaking is a competitive public speaking event in which a contestant draws three slivers of paper out of an envelope. On these pieces of paper are questions pertaining to current events, and the contestant must choose the question he/she is most comfortable speaking about. The questions asked of the contestant will deal with current events and domestic issues. If the competitor is competing in Foreign Extemp, he or she will deal with foreign issues. After reading the options, the contestant chooses one topic, and then has half and hour to write and memorize a speech (5-7 minutes).
This speech is then delivered in front of a judge who judges the speech based on content, analysis of the question, and delivery. You may notice that at some tournaments, questions are a mixture of foreign and domestic topics. At some tournaments, you can receive questions in both foreign and domestic issues. But at most tournaments, you have a choice between the two
Original Oratory is a speech to inspire. It is motivational in nature: you're trying to convince your audience to do something different, like work harder, be more honest, get more involved in community issues or in the family, etc. This event is very delivery intensive; if you don't think you can "work a crowd," don't enter this event. The competition is also very heavy in this event, especially in California, so watch out if you're a novice speaker.
General rules include no more than thirty seconds of singing and no more than 150 quoted words. In addition to these guidelines, a truly excellent OO will have a structure that guides it from beginning to end; however, it is a structure that is so worked-into the piece that it is not even noticeable to the audience. Passion and commitment are the keys to a great OO. Make sure that you believe what you are saying.
Impromptu Speaking is a competitive public speaking event in which a contestant draws a slip of paper out of an envelope. On these pieces of paper are thought-provoking quotations, one-word abstracts, and general analytical questions. The speaker then spends two minutes preparing a five minute maximum speech.
Impromptu speaking is similar to Extemp, but is much "looser." Impromptu is far less structured and less evidence-based. I don't mean to discredit Impromptu speakers, since I am one. But Impromptu is less structured in order to allow for true spontaneity.
A good Impromptu speech begins with a good topic. Before you select your topic, ask yourself the following questions: Am I interested in the topic? Do I know enough about the topic to speak for a full five minutes? Is the speech to entertain, persuade, or inform? Can I give an effective speech with the topic? Is it non-offensive to the judge? Remember that a good Impromptu speech will be entertaining, interesting, and structured.
Declamation is technically an Interpretive event, though it doesn't fit well with the other three. You take a famous speech of the past, such as Kennedy's Inaugural Address or Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Free at Last" speech, edit it down to ten minutes, and deliver it yourself. This is generally considered an "easy" event, since you don't have to do much work aside from memorization, and Dec. tends to get less respect as an event than it deserves. There is however a plus side to this negative reputation: your competition will be much easier than it is in other events, though this is slowly changing as Declamation gets more popular.