What is Speech & Debate?
Speech and debate is an academic activity typically available to students in middle school, high school, and/or college. Similar to athletic sports, speech and debate activities are challenging, competitive in nature, and require regular practice, coaching, dedication, and hard work.
Speech involves a presentation by one, two, or sometimes a group of students that is judged against a similar type of presentation by others in a round of competition. Speech events range from limited preparation events that require extensive knowledge of current events to dramatic and humorous interpretation, which challenge students to find powerful moments in literature and recreate them for an audience.
Debate involves an individual or a team of debaters working to effectively convince a judge that his or her side of a resolution is, as a general principle, more valid. To see what our students are currently debating, visit our Current Topics page. Students in debate come to thoroughly understand both sides of the resolution, having researched each extensively, and learn to think critically about every argument that could be made on each side.
Each event in speech and debate features a different form of public speaking and requires a unique skill set and talent. While students often develop a passion for specific events, many compete in multiple categories throughout the course of their academic careers. Learn more about the main competitive events here.
See the benefits of joining the speech and debate team! Watch this recruitment video!
Students put their skills into action during tournaments! Check out this interactive map to see where students are participating in speech and debate in your state.
Learn more about how competition works in our Tournaments section
Read more about membership in the National Speech & Debate Association.