Competition Events


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2016 National Speech & Debate Tournament
Salt Lake City, Utah

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Competition Events

Students benefit from a wide variety of speech and debate events. To create standards for national competition, the National Speech & Debate Association has defined a number of main events, described below. These events are prevalent in the United States, and many states adopt the Association's rules and guidelines for each event; however, the events offered, and the rules for each event, do vary from state to state. Please consult with your state speech and debate organization or a local contact for more information on event rules in your area.

For additional information on the events our organization offers:

Our members can access supporting resources for these events and other events common in local and regional competition by logging in to their dashboard.


Speech Events

Commentary

Students are presented with prompts related to societal, political, historic or popular culture and, in 20 minutes, prepare a five-minute speech responding to the prompt. Students may consult articles and evidence they gather prior to the contest, but may not use the Internet during preparation. The speech is delivered from memory and no notes are allowed. Learn More »

Declamation (Middle School)

Students bring history to life- literally- by delivering a speech that has been delivered by someone else. From the historical greats to contemporary public orations, students have 10 minutes to perform a memorized speech with an introduction. Topics can vary widely based on the interest of the student. The goal of Declamation is for the student to perform another speaker's message in their own voice. Learn More »

Dramatic Interpretation

Using a play, short story, or other published work, students perform a selection of one or more portions of a piece up to ten minutes in length. With a spotlight on character development and depth, this event focuses on the student’s ability to convey emotion through the use of a dramatic text. Competitors may portray one or multiple characters. No props or costumes may be used. Performances can also include an introduction written by the student to contextualize the performance, and state the title and the author. Learn More »

Duo Interpretation

Two competitors team up to deliver a ten-minute performance of a published play or story. Using off-stage focus, competitors convey emotion and environment through a variety of performance techniques focusing on the relationships and interactions between the characters. No props or costumes are used. Performances can also include an introduction written by the students to contextualize the performance and state the title and the author. Learn More »

Expository

Crafting an original speech, Expository students should describe, clarify, illustrate, or define an object, idea, concept, or process. The speech includes research and is aimed at informing the audience; the goal is to educate, not to advocate. No visual aids are permitted. The time limit is five minutes. The speech is delivered from memory. Learn More »

Humorous Interpretation

Using a play, short story, or other published work, students perform a selection of one or more portions of a piece up to ten minutes in length. Humorous Interpretation is designed to test a student’s comedic skills through script analysis, delivery, timing, and character development. Competitors may portray one or multiple characters. No props or costumes may be used. Performances can also include an introduction written by the student to contextualize the performance and state the title and the author. Learn More »

Impromptu (Middle School)

Impromptu is a public speaking event where students have seven minutes to select a topic, brainstorm their ideas, outline and deliver a speech.  The speech is given without notes and uses an introduction, body, and conclusion.  The speech can be light-hearted or serious.  It can be based upon prompts that range from nursery rhymes, current events, celebrities, organizations, and more. Learn More »

Informative Speaking

Students author and deliver a  ten-minute speech on a topic of their choosing. Competitors create the speech to educate the audience on a particular topic. All topics must be informative in nature; the goal is to educate, not to advocate. Visual aids are permitted, but not required. The speech is delivered from memory. Learn More »

International Extemporaneous Speaking

Students are presented with a choice of three questions related to international current events and, in 30 minutes, prepare a seven-minute speech answering the selected question. Students may consult articles and evidence they gather prior to the contest, but may not use the Internet during preparation. Topics range from country-specific issues to regional concerns to foreign policy. The speech is delivered from memory. Learn More »

Mixed Extemporaneous Speaking (Middle School)

Middle School Extemp combines international and domestic issues (as opposed to two separate events like high school).  Students are presented with a choice of three questions related to national and international current events. The student has 30 minutes to prepare a seven-minute speech answering the selected question. Students may consult articles and evidence they gather prior to the contest, but may not use the Internet during preparation.

Original Oratory

Students deliver a self-written, ten-minute speech on a topic of their choosing. Limited in their ability to quote words directly, competitors craft an argument using evidence, logic, and emotional appeals. Topics range widely, and can be informative or persuasive in nature. The speech is delivered from memory. Learn More »

Poetry (Middle School)

Using a selection or selections of literature, students provide an oral interpretation of poetry. Poetry is characterized by writing that conveys ideas, experiences, and emotions through language and expression. Students may choose traditional poetry, often characterized by rhyme or rhythm, or nontraditional poetry, which often has a rhythmic flow but is not necessarily structured by formal meter (meter is a beat, pattern, or structure, such as iambic pentameter). Students may not use prose, nor drama (plays) in this category. This event is seven minutes, including an introduction. Learn More »

Program Oral Interpretation

Using selections from Prose, Poetry and Drama students create a ten minute performance around a central theme. Program Oral Interpretation is designed to test a student’s ability to intersplice multiple types of literature into a single, cohesive performance. A manuscript is required and may be used as a prop within the performance if the performer maintains control of the manuscript at all times. Performances can also include an introduction written by the student to contextualize the performance and state the title and the author of each selection. Learn More »

Prose (Middle School)

Using a short story, parts of a novel, or other published work of prose, students provide an oral interpretation of a selection of materials. Typically a single piece of literature, prose can be drawn from works of fiction or non-fiction. Prose corresponds to common speech patterns and may combine elements of narration and dialogue. Students may not use poetry, or drama (plays), in this category.  This event is seven minutes, including an introduction. Learn More »

Storytelling (Middle School)

Students select a published story that meets a designated theme. Themes range widely and may include mysteries, heroism, or fairy tales. Students select a story that would be appropriate for young children and tell the story as if presenting to that audience. This event is five minutes. Students may use a chair. Manuscripts are not permitted. Learn More »

United States Extemporaneous Speaking

Students are presented with a choice of three questions related to current events in the United States and, in 30 minutes, prepare a seven-minute speech answering the selected question. Students may consult articles and evidence they gather prior to the contest, but may not use the Internet during preparation. Topics range from political matters to economic concerns to U.S. foreign policy. The speech is delivered from memory. Learn More »

 


Debate Events

Lincoln-Douglas Debate

In this one-on-one format, students debate a topic provided by the National Speech & Debate Association. Topics range from individual freedom versus the collective good to economic development versus environmental protection. Students may consult evidence gathered prior to the debate but may not use the Internet in round. An entire debate is roughly 45 minutes and consists of constructive speeches, rebuttals, and cross-examination. Learn More »

Policy Debate

A two-on-two debate that focuses on a policy question for the duration of the academic year, this format tests a student’s research, analytical, and delivery skills. Policy debate involves the proposal of a plan by the affirmative team to enact a policy, while the negative team offers reasons to reject that proposal. Throughout the debate, students have the opportunity to cross-examine one another. A judge or panel of judges determines the winner based on the arguments presented. Learn More »

Public Forum Debate

Public Forum involves opposing teams of two, debating a topic concerning a current event. Proceeding a coin toss, the winners choose which side to debate (PRO or CON) or which speaker position they prefer (1st or 2nd), and the other team receives the remaining option. Students present cases, engage in rebuttal and refutation, and also participate in a “crossfire” (similar to a cross examination) with the opportunity to question the opposing team.  Often times community members are recruited to judge this event. Learn More »

Congressional Debate (House and Senate)

A simulation of the U.S. legislative process, students generate a series of bills and resolutions for debate in Congressional Debate. Debaters alternate delivering speeches for and against the topic in a group setting. An elected student serves as a presiding officer to ensure debate flows smoothly. Students are assessed on their research, argumentation, and delivery skills, as well as their knowledge and use of parliamentary procedure. Learn More »

Extemporaneous Debate

A one-on-one format, Extemporaneous Debate consists of two students who will argue a specified topic with limited preparation time.  Students are given  a minimum of thirty minutes to prepare for each debate and are notified if they are for or against the provided resolution.  This quick-moving debate takes roughly 20 minutes to complete. Learn More »

World Schools Debate

World Schools Debate features a dynamic format combining the concepts of “prepared” topics with “impromptu” topics, encouraging debaters to focus on specified issues rather than debate theory or procedural arguments. This highly interactive style of debate allows debaters to engage each other, even during speeches. This challenging format requires good teamwork and in-depth quality argumentation. Learn More »


Current Topics

Check out the Current Topics page to see what our students are debating now!