Becoming a Better Extemper: Considering Interp (pt.2)

Akshita Krishnan is back to discuss the technicalities of using interp to improve your extemping. In the second part to this series, she talks specifically about the emotional aspect of a speech, and how interp helps to develop passion.

Now that we’ve got my own personal experiences out of the way, let’s look into the technicalities of how interp will help you as an extemper. This comes in understanding how interp trains you to change the way that you approach a particular speech, changing the perspectives that you add to your rhetoric. This manifests (painfully extemper of me to use manifest) in three main ways:

  1. Understanding Pathos
  2. Layering Tonality for Humor
  3. Adding a Visual Element to a Speech

Let’s break each of these down a little bit more. 

First, understanding the pathos of a speech. 

When it comes to extemp, the topics that we handle are often filled with emotional stories, and understanding the importance that such a mentally taxing topic has in its pathos to others is key to succeeding in performing a speech that fully moves the audience to the edge of their seat. By doing interp, any extemper can expect this particular part of their speaking abilities to improve because of the catalog of emotional pieces that are found in interp. 

While the pieces in interp deal with heavy emotional choices and their consequences mostly through familial situations, performing them can teach you how to apply the same type of emotion into a speech with a social conflict. 

For example, a couple of weekends ago, I had a question that asked whether the US should end its arms deals with Saudi Arabia. My overall answer was yes, and I chose an intense level of pathos in my second point, which was about the way that Saudi Arabia had chosen to utilize the weapons we sold to harm poor Yemeni civilians, a significant number of whom were children. 

With this point, I could’ve taken two paths: one, state all of the empirics and facts on how these civilians have been impacted, or two, do everything in path one while still telling a story of the crisis. 

I chose the latter, and accomplished it in two different ways: my tone and using certain anecdotes. By changing my tone into a charged, motivated lilt (sounds like when you are passionately angry about something), I conveyed how appalled I was by Saudi Arabia’s actions, and used this very passion to depict how the US, by allowing such gross misuse of their weapons, was going against its own interests and promises, building a strong ethos in my argument. With the latter point of using anecdotes, I chose the story of a Yemeni child who was orphaned because of the war. By doing so, not only do I allow for the emotional aspect of this war to sink in (it is devastating, regardless of how casually we may be able to speak of it), but I help qualify my evidence with an actual account of something that a person went through, giving their story some light. 

To quote Holley’s words again, extemping is also about “telling people’s stories.”

When combining this storytelling with the statistics, my speech itself is able to see a new light because there is a lack of distance between the judge and your problem: you have depicted with such significance and pathos that they themselves feel your passion going to them, and you have used a vivid recounting of someone’s story to push your judge into that situation, adding to your ability to persuade, a skill that interp will help you build to a different level.

Want to implement pathos without putting up a DI? Fiiiiine… check out Siri Ural’s article on the subject here.

That was quite a mouthful, so to offer you a respite, check back tomorrow for the second benefit of interp, and the bane of many extempers’ existences… humor!

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