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Speech and Debate competitions are divided into two main types of events: Individual Events (I.E. for short) and Debate. Not all tournaments offer all events - which are done at State and which at the National championship are indicated in parentheses.



(“LD” - State/National/Tournament of Champions) Lincoln-Douglas is a one-on-one speaking contest in which one participant argues in favor of a “resolution” and the other argues against it. Resolutions are framed in terms of “how things ought to be” and arguments are based on philosophical values (social good, equality, justice, etc.). The debate is structured something like a trial, with each side having time to present their “case,” question the other side about their case, and rebut the opponent’s arguments. L/D debates last about 45 minutes. During tournaments, students alternate between the affirmative and negative sides, so must be prepared to argue either. A new topic is debated every two months, and the topic is released one month in advance of competition.


(PF, PoFo – State/National/TOC) Teams of two students argue a controversial topic based on current events; one team supports the resolution and the other opposes it. Arguments are expected to be presented in terms that a common person would understand. Asking and responding to questions from the opposing side is an important part of Public Forum Debate. A PF debate lasts around 45 minutes. During tournaments, students alternate between pro and con sides, so must be prepared to argue either. There is a new topic each month, announced one month in advance.


(“Parli” – State/TOC) Parliamentary Debate is done in teams of two students, one of which is called the “Government” and the other the “Opposition.” The Government side supports the resolution and the Opposition argues against it. There is a new topic each round, and students do not know the topic until the start of the round. After they receive the topic, teams have 20 minutes to prepare their arguments before the debate begins. They may consult prepared materials and other students during this time, but are not allowed to use prepared speeches in the debate. A Parli debate lasts about an hour.



ORIGINAL ORATORY (“OO” - State/National): A speech designed to shape, reinforce or change attitudes, beliefs, values, and/or actions. In other words, a speech to persuade. Up to 150 quoted words from other sources are allowed; use of multiple sources is encouraged. Speech must be memorized. Time limit - 10 minutes.

ORIGINAL ADVOCACY (“OA” - State): Also a speech to persuade, but one that identifies a problem and offers a clear, concise legislative solution. Like Oratory, up to 150 quoted words may be used, and multiple information sources are encouraged. The speech must be memorized. Time limit - 10 minutes. (In national competition and at invitational tournaments, students may use an Advocacy speech in Oratory.)

EXPOSITORY (“Expos” - State): A speech designed to explain an object, idea, concept or process. Visual and/or audio aids are allowed, but no costumes. The speech may include up to 150 quoted words from other sources. Notes are allowed but discouraged; the most successful speakers have their speeches memorized. Time limit - 10 minutes.

ORIGINAL PROSE AND POETRY (“OPP” - State): An original work by the student; this can be a play, poem, story, essay, or a combination. May include up to 150 quoted words from other sources. Must be memorized. Time limit - 10 minutes.


DRAMATIC INTERPRETATION (“DI” - State/National): The student acts out a serious-toned presentation chosen from published materials: plays, novels, poetry, screenplays, essays, stories, etc. Students may portray more than one character, but the material must come from only one selection. Up to 150 words of original material may be added, e.g. an introduction to the selection or explanation of a scene change. No costumes or props are allowed, and performers must remain standing. The contestant conveys the author’s meaning through voice(s), gestures, and facial expressions. Presentations must be memorized. Time limit - 10 minutes.

HUMOROUS INTERPRETATION (“HI” - State/National): Same as Dramatic Interp., only funny.

DUO INTERPRETATION (“Duo” - State/National): Same basic rules as Dramatic and Humorous, except the piece is performed by two people. Selections may be dramatic, amusing, or a combination. Each person may play more than one part and either or both may serve as narrator. Students may not touch or look at each other except during the introduction.

ORATORICAL INTERPRETATION (“OI” - State): Presentation of a speech that was delivered by a real person in a public forum. The aim is to effectively convey the message intended by the original speaker. Up to 150 words of original material can be added. The speech must be memorized. Time limit - 10 minutes.

THEMATIC INTERPRETATION (“TI” - State): In TI, the speaker communicates a certain theme, such as “war is hell,” using at least three different literary selections that illustrate and develop that theme. Poetry, novels, stories, plays, essays, or any other form of literature can be included; each must be introduced with the original author and title. The speaker must hold a manuscript, which may be used as a prop. Time limit - 10 minutes.  


IMPROMPTU (“Impromptu” - State): In this event, the student selects a topic and prepares a speech on the spot with 2 minutes of preparation time; the speech is then delivered with a time limit of 5 minutes. Students enter the room one at a time and are given 3 topics to choose from. Speeches must stay on topic and should be well-organized. Each round has a different type of topic -- e.g. abstract words, concrete objects, current events, or quotations. The student may make notes during preparation, but may not refer to notes while giving the speech.

EXTEMPORANEOUS (“Extemp” - State/National): Students draw 3 topics, choose one, and have 30 min. to prepare and memorize a 7-min. speech. Topics are in the forms of questions and are based on current events. Students prepare files of magazine articles to use during speech preparation. National and Foreign Extemp are separate events at most tournaments but may be combined at invitationals. No notes are allowed while giving the speech.

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