Lessons From Listening, Part 7

Lesson 7: Get to 6

One of the most important elements of any speech is being near the time limit. If an absolutely phenomenal Persuasive speaker has great content and a wonderful speaking ability but only has a 7-minute speech, he is shooting himself in the foot. In the same way, many Apologetics speakers have great content and superb speaking ability–but the judges don’t get to hear more than 4 minutes of it. If you want to succeed in Apologetics speaking, you have to be able to get to 6 minutes.

Here are a few of my tips for ensuring that you’ll be able to reach the 6-minute time limit.

1. Invest in Thoroughly Equipped. Seriously! It takes more time to find 2 minutes of material for 100 cards than it does to find a full 6 minutes of material for 25 cards. And you can cover the same number of topics either way! If you want to get to 6 minutes, I would strongly encourage you to consider investing in Thoroughly Equipped–it’ll be worth every penny.

2. Expound. Let me explain what I mean via an example. In Semifinals at my last tournament, I drew the topic “How can God be both merciful and just?” I expounded on that topic in two different ways.

First, you’ll notice that the answer to that question is fairly simple and couldn’t possibly take up 6 minutes without being incredibly repetitive. So, instead of going straight in and answering the question, I spent the first two points addressing the “if” part of the statement by establishing the Biblical support for God being both merciful and just. Then I used my third point to answer the question, based on the solid foundation of my first two points.

My outline was as follows:
Point 1: God is Merciful
Mercy=not getting something we do deserve.
Point 2: God is Just
Justice=getting something we do deserve.
Point 3: God Can Be Both Through Grace
Grace=getting something we absolutely do not deserve. (i.e. a Substitute)

By setting up the dichotomy between grace and mercy in my first two points, I heightened the sense of anticipation for my third point, where I explained that God is merciful toward us and still acts justly by punishing a Substitute in our place–His Son, Jesus Christ.

The second way I expounded on the topic was in my third point. I explained more about the Substitute than was strictly necessary–I expounded on Who this substitute was and just how much His sacrifice should mean to us. I quoted 2 Corinthians 5:21 (one of my favorite verses) and discussed just how much we need Someone to take our place. While all of this wasn’t strictly necessary, my expounding upon the topic was received positively by the judges, added passion, and helped me get to 6.

3. Summarize. While I’ve always taken summarization for granted, my Apologetics-watching experienced demonstrated to me that not everyone does. Very few of the speakers I watched had any sort of summary, any ending review of their points. When I averaged the speakers’ times, it came out to 4 minutes 45 seconds. On average, each speaker had over an entire minute of time remaining!

When you come to the end of your prepared material, summarize. Give the judges a brief review of the points they’ve covered. My summary for my Semifinals speech may have gone something like this (I can’t remember exactly).

“Over the past few minutes, we’ve seen that God is a merciful God–he doesn’t give us what we deserve. And yet God is also just–He will punish someone for our sin. God can simultaneously not give us what we deserve and give us what we deserve by giving us something we absolutely do not deserve–grace. By sending His Son as a Substitute on our behalf, God both punished sin and was merciful toward us. [Transition to concluding statements here.]

That’s not hard at all! All you have to do is summarize each of your points in a sentence or two. Your summary can be long or short–I’ve filled up as much as an entire minute with a summary (with a little expounding mixed in) and as little as 15 seconds. When you summarize, you not only reach 6 minutes but also remind the judges one last time of your phenomenal points.

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