How to Speak Well Extemporaneously

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perfunctory
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How to Speak Well Extemporaneously

Postby perfunctory » Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:14 am

Hi, I want to do well in my moot court competition and was wondering if any moot court superstars were around to give me some advice/tips. Obviously, you need to know everything cold, but I'm talking about those situations where you receive a question you legitimately did not think of. I am specifically interested in how your thought process goes. For me, answers just pop up in my head and I just say them without any form of organization, which does not make me look well spoken

estefanchanning
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Re: How to Speak Well Extemporaneously

Postby estefanchanning » Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:37 am

don't use pretentious words like extemporaneously

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UVA2B
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Re: How to Speak Well Extemporaneously

Postby UVA2B » Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:39 am

Always use "the record" instead of "I" when making an argument/answering a question. It's not the argument you're making; the record clearly shows why your argument is the winner.

Edit: For instance, "The record shows that [insert important legal distinction you want to make]." This is a learned skill, and some may struggle to not say "I would argue" or something like it when asked a question they didn't anticipate or weren't prepared for.
Last edited by UVA2B on Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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rpupkin
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Re: How to Speak Well Extemporaneously

Postby rpupkin » Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:41 am

estefanchanning wrote:don't use pretentious words like extemporaneously

I don't think that "extemporaneous" is a pretentious word in the context of OP's question. What word or phrase would have you used instead? Off the cuff?

estefanchanning
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Re: How to Speak Well Extemporaneously

Postby estefanchanning » Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:54 am

rpupkin wrote:
estefanchanning wrote:don't use pretentious words like extemporaneously

I don't think that "extemporaneous" is a pretentious word in the context of OP's question. What word or phrase would have you used instead? Off the cuff?


Doesn't extemporaneous refer to speaking without having done any preparation at all? i.e., most of what Trumps says = extemporaneous. Given that he probably prepared weeks for moot court, I think extemp is the wrong word to use. IMO, OP wants to know how to sound eloquent, not how to "speak well without preparation."

In my view, extemporaneous has a precise, narrow meaning that, when used incorrectly, sounds supes pretentious.

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rpupkin
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Re: How to Speak Well Extemporaneously

Postby rpupkin » Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:01 am

estefanchanning wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
estefanchanning wrote:don't use pretentious words like extemporaneously

I don't think that "extemporaneous" is a pretentious word in the context of OP's question. What word or phrase would have you used instead? Off the cuff?


Doesn't extemporaneous refer to speaking without having done any preparation at all? i.e., most of what Trumps says = extemporaneous. Given that he probably prepared weeks for moot court, I think extemp is the wrong word to use. IMO, OP wants to know how to sound eloquent, not how to "speak well without preparation."

In my view, extemporaneous has a precise, narrow meaning that, when used incorrectly, sounds supes pretentious.

I don't think the word's meaning is as narrow as you think. Just to pick the first dictionary that popped up on the internet, here are Merriam-Webster top two definitions of extemporaneous:

(1) :composed, performed, or uttered on the spur of the moment
(2) :carefully prepared but delivered without notes or text

It seems like you're thinking of the first definition. But the second definition is consistent with OP's usage. For what it's worth, I frequently see/hear people use "extemporaneous" in the second way (or at least somewhere in between the first and second way).

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UVA2B
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Re: How to Speak Well Extemporaneously

Postby UVA2B » Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:05 am

estefanchanning wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
estefanchanning wrote:don't use pretentious words like extemporaneously

I don't think that "extemporaneous" is a pretentious word in the context of OP's question. What word or phrase would have you used instead? Off the cuff?


Doesn't extemporaneous refer to speaking without having done any preparation at all? i.e., most of what Trumps says = extemporaneous. Given that he probably prepared weeks for moot court, I think extemp is the wrong word to use. IMO, OP wants to know how to sound eloquent, not how to "speak well without preparation."

In my view, extemporaneous has a precise, narrow meaning that, when used incorrectly, sounds supes pretentious.


Point: "Hill, I'm sorry, but you're not worth dying on."
Hill: "I'll be here if you change your mind."

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perfunctory
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Re: How to Speak Well Extemporaneously

Postby perfunctory » Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:16 am

well i did say something like "for those situations where you get a question you legitimately did not foresee" so you would not have prepped for it.
and i don't think it'll be pretentious to judges, c'mon.

i think i saw somewhere that people go conclusion first, then the reason, then an example.

but i don't know. this whole thing seems like you just need to be born with it. how do you even practice speaking well?

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Re: How to Speak Well Extemporaneously

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:53 am

perfunctory wrote:how do you even practice speaking well?


By doing it.

The best thing you can do for yourself is find your own voice. Sounding natural and comfortable is 90% of the battle.

Other general tips: Find the points of your argument that you're passionate about, which means finding the real-world consequences of the more esoteric points of law. Connect everything back to your client (which may be the government). Start every answer to a judge with some form of agreement, even if you're about to tell them that they're completely wrong. Find ways to drag your opponent into the mix by picking a related point they made and using it to prop up your own argument. And don't be afraid to take a breath after being asked a question to gather your thoughts.

AspiringAspirant
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Re: How to Speak Well Extemporaneously

Postby AspiringAspirant » Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:32 am

perfunctory wrote:well i did say something like "for those situations where you get a question you legitimately did not foresee" so you would not have prepped for it.
and i don't think it'll be pretentious to judges, c'mon.

i think i saw somewhere that people go conclusion first, then the reason, then an example.

but i don't know. this whole thing seems like you just need to be born with it. how do you even practice speaking well?


Some of it is natural, no doubt. Some people have a gift for public speaking, others don't. That said, the more you do it the better you get. One helpful, albeit uncomfortable, practice tip is to record yourself and watch afterwards. Guarantee you'll spot at least a handful of habits/ticks that you hate and can consciously weed out moving forward.

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bretby
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Re: How to Speak Well Extemporaneously

Postby bretby » Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:16 am

perfunctory wrote:well i did say something like "for those situations where you get a question you legitimately did not foresee" so you would not have prepped for it.
and i don't think it'll be pretentious to judges, c'mon.

i think i saw somewhere that people go conclusion first, then the reason, then an example.

but i don't know. this whole thing seems like you just need to be born with it. how do you even practice speaking well?


Best tip is to think before you answer. It is better to pause for 3 seconds and compose an answer in your head than to start talking right away without knowing what you are going to say. Judges don't mind if you have to pause and think - it makes them think they asked a tough question and stroking judges' egos is 90% of success in moot court anyways.

OneShot2009
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Re: How to Speak Well Extemporaneously

Postby OneShot2009 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:52 pm

A ton of practice. People think practice is to plan for every question/circumstance you could encounter in the actual competition. But honestly, at least for me, practice is to get comfortable handling situations you have not prepared for. The more you get used to handling situations where you are not sure what to do, the more naturally it will come. Take a breath and think if you need to - that is far preferable to answering immediately with a long rambling diatribe that doesn't answer the question.

Also nerves happen to everyone. I very much enjoy public speaking and oral advocacy and I do a fair amount of it. I still get very nervous, but I have learned to direct the nerves into a way that is productive and narrows my focus. Good luck!

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perfunctory
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Re: How to Speak Well Extemporaneously

Postby perfunctory » Wed Nov 15, 2017 12:09 am

OneShot2009 wrote:A ton of practice. People think practice is to plan for every question/circumstance you could encounter in the actual competition. But honestly, at least for me, practice is to get comfortable handling situations you have not prepared for. The more you get used to handling situations where you are not sure what to do, the more naturally it will come. Take a breath and think if you need to - that is far preferable to answering immediately with a long rambling diatribe that doesn't answer the question.

Also nerves happen to everyone. I very much enjoy public speaking and oral advocacy and I do a fair amount of it. I still get very nervous, but I have learned to direct the nerves into a way that is productive and narrows my focus. Good luck!


do you mean then practicing with a lot of different people? how do you exactly practice this? i feel like this is good advice but just I can't imagine how i would go about it. i was thinking maybe, every day, i would practice by pulling random questions about random topics from the internet and just trying to speak extemporaneously. do you have tactics when your mind goes blank?

OneShot2009
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Re: How to Speak Well Extemporaneously

Postby OneShot2009 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:23 pm

perfunctory wrote:
OneShot2009 wrote:A ton of practice. People think practice is to plan for every question/circumstance you could encounter in the actual competition. But honestly, at least for me, practice is to get comfortable handling situations you have not prepared for. The more you get used to handling situations where you are not sure what to do, the more naturally it will come. Take a breath and think if you need to - that is far preferable to answering immediately with a long rambling diatribe that doesn't answer the question.

Also nerves happen to everyone. I very much enjoy public speaking and oral advocacy and I do a fair amount of it. I still get very nervous, but I have learned to direct the nerves into a way that is productive and narrows my focus. Good luck!


do you mean then practicing with a lot of different people? how do you exactly practice this? i feel like this is good advice but just I can't imagine how i would go about it. i was thinking maybe, every day, i would practice by pulling random questions about random topics from the internet and just trying to speak extemporaneously. do you have tactics when your mind goes blank?


Yes, practice with others. I read your thread as you currently have or are about to have a moot court competition. Practice mooting each other (if your competition rules allow for it). So assuming your competition is appellate, have other students ask you questions. The odder, more left-field the better.

Do you speak a lot in class? I'm not saying talk five times in class and use it as oral advocacy practice, but if you're someone who *never* talks in class because it makes you nervous, raising your hand to answer questions is also a good way to practice (especially with a professor who likes to ask random follow-up questions.)

There are a few tactics you can use when your mind goes blank. If you really have NO IDEA what to say, you can buy yourself a little time by asking a judge to repeat the question. While they repeat the question you can begin formulating your answer, but obviously you can't do that more than once or twice. I've done that (I also don't always hear super well). You can also take a second to take a breath and re-organize. Judges don't mind that and even though it feels awfully long as the advocate to have that silence, its never as long as it feels.

One thing I always do with every argument is have a "touchstone." Basically, its one point or idea in my argument that I know I can always fall back on to fill a silence. It might be a policy argument, it might be a very on-point case, but its something that no matter how out of order my argument gets from judge's question, I can talk about this one point for thirty second while my brain re-organizes and figures out where to go next.

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Re: How to Speak Well Extemporaneously

Postby encore1101 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:19 pm

In addition to what's been said already, I used to practice my argument, then think of the natural questions that would arise from what I say. I used to film myself practicing my arguments, so I could see my mannerisms, hear any odd speech inflections, hear whether you're speaking too quickly, etc. You can also use the opportunity to think of openings in your argument that a judge may interpose a question.

Doing well in Moot Court is about taking control of the argument. Don't let the judges start giving you crazy factual hypos that are only slightly related to the issue presented. For example, if a judge disagreed with my position and tried to give an extreme example as to why my reasoning was flawed, I'd respond with something like "Under those set of facts, your honor, the outcome of the case may be different, but before the record before us . . . " Think of it like fishing. It's okay to give it some slack, but you need to be able to rein in the argument when necessary.

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pancakes3
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Re: How to Speak Well Extemporaneously

Postby pancakes3 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 11:00 pm

practice = practicing your arguments. your moot court board should help you coordinate lots of moots before the real thing. i don't think i've ever run into a competition where you weren't allowed to moot.

when i interned at the DOJ, those guys would moot over and over and over again to be prepared for whatever questions are thrown their way. i asked a couple supervising attorneys if they would moot me and my partner and got torn to shreds but it was good practice.

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Re: How to Speak Well Extemporaneously

Postby OneShot2009 » Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:46 pm

pancakes3 wrote:practice = practicing your arguments. your moot court board should help you coordinate lots of moots before the real thing. i don't think i've ever run into a competition where you weren't allowed to moot.

when i interned at the DOJ, those guys would moot over and over and over again to be prepared for whatever questions are thrown their way. i asked a couple supervising attorneys if they would moot me and my partner and got torn to shreds but it was good practice.


Our internal competitions have stricter rules on "outside assistance" which can include mooting depending on the feedback you're getting (I assumed OP was preparing for an internal competition.) Definitely for intercollegiate competitions mooting is standard.




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