The National Speech & Debate Association functions on two levels: first, as an organization to govern and promote speech and debate activities; and second, as an Honor Society to recognize and support speech and debate education. The current Unified Manual consists of four parts.
- The first section focuses primarily on official rules pertaining to high school membership, individual student and coach participation, member enrollment, governance, and acknowledgement of service.
- The second section includes all of the rules for our competitive events. The rules in the manual should be interpreted literally and followed exactly. If you ever have a question about a rule, you’re welcome to call the national office or ask your district chair for clarification.
- The third section covers operations and procedures for the district tournament series organized by each district so that their students may have a chance to qualify for the National Tournament.
- The fourth section covers the operations and procedures for the annual National Tournament.
- There are also several appendices that provide more details relating to event time limits, several examples of answered questions, and other details.