Apologetics is one of my all-time favorite speech events - it is a very deep and rewarding undertaking which has much application outside of the speech and debate realm. Apologetics is a great and enjoyable way to dive into the truths of Christianity and learn more about our awesome Lord and Savior. I hope that you will enjoy your new foray into Apologetics and take every speech as an opportunity to glorify your Maker.
One thing that is very good in Apologetics is to never put yourself in a mold or get stuck in a rout, old pattern. We need to be open to the moving of the Holy Spirit, as God will give us the words to say at the time. But, you definetly have very good questions. Apol prep time management is a key skill to nail down, whether you have a card on a topic or not. My personal style is very malleable and isn't a set-in-stone "YOU HAVE TO DO IT THIS WAY" kind of concept or a ritual of sorts. Feel free to change around different aspects of how you do prep if you aren't happy with how you currently manage your time.
A typical prep time where I have a card on the topic looks like this for me:
T-minus 4 minutes - I pick up the three topics.
T-minus circa 3 minutes and 45 seconds - Most times, at this point, I have read all three topics and have decided on which topic to present a speech on. But sometimes it takes me at least one minute if I am having a difficult decision (because I have two fantastic topics to pick from, or I have partial cards, or because I have no cards).
T-minus circa 3 minutes and 30 seconds - At this point, I have most likely gone to my "table of contents" in the back of my Apol box, found where my card on the topic of my choice is, and have started to read my card over.
T-minus circa 2 minutes and 30 seconds - I have probably finished skimming or reading my card over. If I am satisfied with the card, I continue to read and re-read it so I get the roadmap, concepts, verses, quotes, and analysis cemented and nailed down in my mind so I don't have to stare at or read from my cards for the duration of the speech. If I find something I want to change, I mark my changes in pencil. If I think of something to add to my card, I pull out my Bible or pull out my "generic" category cards and skim those over, adding things I like or want to say and deleting parts of my card I don't necessarily have time for or want to discuss.
T-minus 1 minute and 30 seconds - If I needed to make revisions, at this point I have finished all revisions and re-read my card over entirely for the final time.
T-minus 1 minute - When the timer announces 1 minute left I stop reading my card and begin to pray to myself. Although I am praying for the entire Apol prep, my final minute of prep is wholly dedicated to lifting up the judges, the competition, the other competitors, the tournament directors, and my heart, conduct, actions, and speech to the Lord and leaving the results in His hands.
T-minus 30 seconds - I continue praying, as well as making sure that my tie is straight, I have all of the cards I need, my nametag is straight, and various other little incidentals that can be taken care of quickly in case I forgot to do so earlier in prep.
T-minus 10 seconds - I stand up, close my box and Bible, straighten my jacket, button my suit, get my cards straightened out on the table, and glance over my speech once final time.
T-minus (time is up) - I walk to the center of the room and am ready to begin my speech.
Evan Buck, LD Coach
As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. -Psalm 42:1