Extempore is the art of speaking without any preparation on a given topic. Most often the term is used in the context of speech and stage acting.
Why do we need it?
So why do we need Extempore from the MBA point of view? Reason: Decisions have to be taken on the spot by the man-in charge (read manager) so it is important for him to be quick in his thinking process. At the same time proper communication has to be done by the manager with his juniors to allay the frayed tempers of the people around him (if at all the tempers rise). So the manager has to be equipped with this skill in order to give instant answers. The collateral impact that this makes is that it builds an instant rapport of with the people around him / her. At the same time this quality also brings out the leadership quality and the risk-taking ability of the individual, both at policy level and execution level.
The body language and confidence level that the manager exudes coupled with the ability to express his thoughts articulately and fluently in English are few other abilities tested through this skill.
What are the common problems faced?
- A sound knowledge base: How much of knowledge is required for the individual to tactfully handle a contemporary, as well as, an abstract topic is the biggest question.
- Getting intimated by the knowledgeable people, giving you an in-your- face expression is one common problem encountered while building this skill.
- Constructing sentences properly, without disturbing the logical flow of the stance is worth the consideration. From where we start to where we finally end, within that stipulated time, is yet another concern. Most often cross questioning by the people, coupled with numerous facial expressions from the panel leads to nervousness which can in turn result in one digressing from the topic.
- Most often the extempore round is followed by an interview round. At times, if one feels that the extempore was not up to the mark then the apprehension affects the interview as well, especially if the panel for the interview happens to be the same.
How to build the skill?
- Start building your knowledge brick by brick. Develop a reading habit. Subscribe to a good magazine, which has a mix on all topics. The knowledge thus gained will give you confidence to tackle any topic that comes your way. The editorial section in the newspapers has to be given utmost importance. You may work through them by taking a stand on a particular topic and thinking about points to corroborate your position.
- Start speaking loudly on a topic, either in front of a mirror or even without one. The idea is that you should be able to speak, with a fair degree of fluency on any topic you get. Practicing by speaking loudly will ensure that you are able to control your nervousness. Also, speak in two postures– sitting as well as standing. Try to speak non-stop for 5 minutes and place an alarm clock in front of you to keep a track.
- Watch your body language. Too much of hand movement can be taken as a sign of nervousness. The objective is to appear calm and composed; so you should not use your hands excessively.
- Do not start off speaking as soon as the topic is given to you. Think for a few seconds before you start. It has also been observed that those who start off immediately, run out of ideas and don’t know what to say. Thus, they end up finishing their speech in hardly 35-40 seconds, or even less, in some cases while the allotted time is normally 1-minute.
- Structure your speech properly. Try and give it an introduction, a body and a conclusion. Define the topic adequately. Try giving examples to drive home your point of view. If the topic provides scope for narrating personal experiences, use the opportunity to do so.
- Time yourself well. If the panel has given you 2 minutes to speak, try to speak within that time frame. It may not be a good idea to be stopped in the middle of one your sentences.
- You should be clear with your career graph. Moreover, your character traits should be visible in your extempore. This will create a positive impact in the interview, which may immediately follow the extempore. There is a high probability that the panel judging you in the extempore and the interview will nearly be the same with a functional expert joining in the interview.
Topics presented upon in extempore range from abstract (summers have come, Black is beautiful et. al.) to concrete issues such as those related to Finance (Disinvestment, Black Money and Corporates) and of national importance (Lokpal bill, overdose of fasts, corruption etc).
Most importantly maintain your poise while doing anything during extempore. This will send the right signals to the panel judging you.
– The writer of this piece is an MBA from the prestigious IISWBM, Kolkotta – India’s Oldest B-School founded in 1953, and the home of learning for many distinguished business leaders. A Quantitative Ability faculty at MBAGuru, Leader in Adaptive Preparation for CAT, he is immensely popular among the students as much for his QA fundae as for his affable nature. He also is a designated mentor for students seeking help with institute application forms and guidance.
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