A Brief Overview of Speech and Debate Events

  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools offers a comprehensive forensics program that includes a variety of speech events. Students may choose to specialize in one or more. They are divided into three categories:

    Debate Events

    Public Forum Debate: A team event where participants argue a resolution pro and con. After the first two speeches, there is a crossfire in which contestants may ask one another questions. After that, there are subsequent speeches, crossfires and rebuttals. Resolutions change each month. An example of a public forum topic would be:

    • Resolved: that commercial airline pilots should be armed in the cockpit. 

    Lincoln-Douglas Debate (L.D.): This event explores values issues. Several resolutions are debated during the academic year, and students prepare cases both affirming and negating the current resolution. An example of a Lincoln-Douglas resolution is:

    • Resolved: The intervention of one nation in the domestic affairs of another nation is morally justified.

    Congressional Debate: This event, also called Student Congress, engages students in the kind of legislative debate on the floor of our Senate and House of Representatives. Students write bills and resolutions offering solutions to problems requiring federal intervention, submit their legislation at tournaments and prepare persuasive speeches for competition.

    Speech Events

    Original Oratory (O.O.): Students prepare 8-10 minute original speeches that are persuasive concerning topics of interest to a general audience. The speeches are delivered from memory.

    Extemporaneous Speaking (Extemp.): Students are given thirty minutes to prepare a four to seven-minute speech on a current events topic. Students must use articles they bring to the competition to assist them in preparing a speech. Still, they may not use a manuscript during the delivery and note cards are usually not allowed at most tournaments.

    Students are given a few minutes to prepare a speech on topics ranging from proverbs to comic strips. The speech must be delivered without the use of manuscript or note cards.

    Declamation: Students deliver speeches written and published by other authors (limited to 9th and 10th graders).

    Interpretation Events

    Dramatic Interpretation (D.I.): Students interpret pieces taken from plays, short stories, or novels. The piece may include several characters, and through the use of voice, gesture, and body language, the interpreter must bring the scene to life for the audience. The script must be fully memorized. The intent of the piece must be dramatic.

    Humorous Interpretation (H.I.): This event has the same constraints as dramatic interpretation, with the exception that the intent of the piece must be humor.

    Duo Interpretation (Duo): Two interpreters perform a scene from a play, short story, or novel using an off-stage focus. The script must be fully memorized.

    Storytelling: Using a manuscript, a storyteller brings a story alive for the audience. The material in most North Carolina tournaments is taken from children's literature. However, storytelling is now a supplemental event at the National Speech and Debate Tournament. The material may come from several sources, including folk tales, short stories, and children's literature.

    • Prose Interpretation: Using a manuscript, the interpreter offers a program of prose. This differs from storytelling in that prose interpretation is not limited to narratives.
    • Poetry Interpretation: Using a manuscript, the interpreter chooses a program of poetry built around a common theme or one poem at least five minutes in length.
    • Prose/Poetry Interpretation: Using a manuscript, the interpreter performs a program of prose and poetry built around a common theme.
    • Impromptu Duet Acting (IDA): A duo team is provided with a scenario for improvisation. They are given a few minutes to develop a strategy, then perform a scene of their invention.