There are three different public speaking categories, with multiple events under each umbrella area:


In CONGRESSIONAL DEBATE, around 18-22 students from various schools will congregate in a classroom for debate on federal legislation proposed by the students themselves. Here is a sample partial docket that could be seen in a congress chamber:

  • School A: A Bill to Impose Sanctions on Iran
  • School B: A Bill To Combat The HIV/AIDS Epidemic In Sub-Saharan Africa
  • School C: A Resolution to Disband Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • School D: A Resolution to Abolish Affirmative Action
  • School E: A Bill to Support ESEAN to Deescalate Tensions in the South China Sea
    Students will research topics and give three-minute-long speeches on the various topics. The class will teach students how to research, outline and formally present speeches, plus learn cross-examination techniques.
    Video of Congressional Debate:

    LINCOLN DOUGLAS DEBATE features one person on each side. Propositions of value are debated with the emphasis on developing logical argumentation rather than an accumulation of information. Students will learn values analysis, argumentation skills, sound and ethical use of persuasion, and clear audience-centered communication. The topic changes every two months.
    Video of Lincoln Douglas Debate:

    PUBLIC FORUM DEBATE is an audience-friendly two-on-two debate where current event issues are argued using logic and facts/statistics. PFD develops skills in argumentation, cross-examination and refutation. The topic changes monthly.
    Video of Public Forum Debate:

    WORLD SCHOOLS DEBATE is a 3-on-3 debate event which features a dynamic format combining the concepts of "prepared" topics and "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.
    Video of World Schools Debate:

    EXTEMPORANEOUS DEBATE (also known as SPONTANEOUS ARGUMENTATION, or SpAr) is a one-on-one format consisting 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.


    DRAMATIC PERFORMANCE is an individual category in which selections are either dramatic or humorous. Selections are from published-printed novels, short stories, plays, or any other such materials. Presentations are memorized and made without props or costumes. At some tournaments, the event is split into dramatic and humorous categories.
    Video of Humorous Interpretation: "Kick Me: Adventures in Adolescence"

    Video of Dramatic Interpretation: "Out of My Mind"

    DUO INTERPRETATION OF LITERATURE is a two-person version of DP. Students cannot look at one another or make physical contact with each other during the performance.
    Video of Duo Interpretation: "The Invention of Wings"

    In ORAL INTERPRETATION OF LITERATURE, students select poetry and prose pieces for performance. Unlike DP or DUO, a student will have the manuscript in front of him or her in a small binder, and the performer must show a balance of eye contact between the script and audience. OI is not "acted out" to the degree of DP or DUO.
    Video of Oral Interpretation/Poetry: "Kim and Carrie"

    Video of Oral Interpretation/Prose: "The Things They Carried"

    PROGRAM OF ORAL INTERPRETATION should not be confused with Oral Interpretation of Literature. In POI, using selections from Prose, Poetry and Drama, students create a ten minute performance around a central theme. POI 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.

    Sample literature for a POI:
    TOPIC: Magical Realism
    DRAMA: Lily Plants a Garden by Jose Cruz Gonzalez; Joe Turner's Come and Gone by August Wilson
    POETRY: The Rusted Door by Stephan Delbos; Write about an Empty Birdcage by Elaina M. Ellis; The Giant Golden Boy of Biology by Anis Mojgani
    PROSE: The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia; One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; The Great Divorce by Kelly Link
    Video of Program Oral Interpretation: "Before It Hits Home"


    In EXTEMPORANEOUS SPEAKING, a student draws three questions on a foreign or domestic current event topic from an envelope, selects one, and has 30 minutes to prepare an answer using factual basis and logic. The student uses a set of research files s/he has built as a resource. Only published materials may be used as resources. At some tournaments, the topics are split into international and domestic categories.
    Video of Extemporaneous Speaking: "Was the US war in Afghanistan in vain?"

    ORIGINAL ORATORY allows students to 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.
    Video of Original Oratory: "Let's Dance"

    In 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.
    Video of Informative Speaking: "The Birds and the Wees"

    In DECLAMATION, students memorize a previously presented speech. It may be an old oratory, a public address, or any such type of speech that has been presented before. Tournament competition is limited to freshmen and sophomore students.
    Video of Declamation: "A Letter to a Young Enlistee"

    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.