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Speech & Debate





Speech is the art of public speaking. Poise, confidence, presentation, and eloquence are valuable skills that shape our lives and the way that we belong in the world. Being able to speak in public is not simply a matter of rote memorization and recitation; it is actually a journey of character and training to be able to project yourself to an audience.


The three categories of speech are Spontaneous, Original (Platform), and Interpretation. Each category highlights certain elements that showcase different aspects of public speaking.


Below, you will find descriptions of each of the three categories and the events that come under them.


Spontaneous Events: Speeches delivered with limited preparation

  • Impromptu (IMP): A 5-minute speech about a randomly assigned topic, either a quote, current events, abstract concept, or concrete object, delivered after two minutes of preparation
  • Extemporaneous (EXTEMP):
    • International Extemporaneous: A 7-minute speech about an international current events topic, delivered after 30 minutes of preparation
    • Domestic Extemporaneous: A 7-minute speech about a domestic current events topic, delivered after 30 minutes of preparation


Original Events: Original speeches written entirely by the speaker (10 minutes)

  • Original Oratory (OO): An original speech written by the speaker about a relevant topic of choice, often concerning the community and/or the world
  • Original Advocacy (OA): An original speech written by the speaker about a relevant topic of choice, concerning current policies or laws
  • Original Expository (EXPOS): An original speech written by the speaker providing information about a certain topic in extensive detail
  • Original Prose and Poetry (OPP): An original speech written by the speaker taking a form of a narrative, often dramatic or humorous


Interpretive Events: Speeches adapted from an external source, presented by the speaker with his/her own flair (10 minutes)

  • Original Interpretation (OI): An edited version of a documented speech previously delivered by someone (ex: a political figure)
  • Dramatic Interpretation (DI): An edited version of a novel or play involving a narrative tragedy
  • Humorous Interpretation (HI): An edited version of a novel or play involving a comical or humorous narrative
  • Thematic Interpretation (TI): A speech involving several pieces of literature surrounding a certain theme, woven together to create a single piece
  • Duo Interpretation (DUO): A dramatic and/or comical speech performed by two partners


If you want to learn more about the specific speech events, please visit the following websites:



Lincoln Douglas Debate - Parliamentary Debate - Public Forum Debate - Speech



Public Forum Debate

Public Forum Debate (PF, POFO, PuFo) is a team event that affirms or rejects a resolution presented every month. This form of debate requires doing research and is primarily focused on evidence, but not driven by it. There are two speakers on each team. First speakers present and develop arguments, while the second speaker has no written out speech, but works on refuting the opponents case, and strengthening your own. Doing Public Forum helps you develop communication skills, including clarity, enunciation, and tonality which help to effectively persuade the judges to agree with your side of the resolution using well-written arguments, clear explanations, and proper delivery.





Parliamentary Debate

EVSD boasts one of the most successful Parliamentary Debate programs in the nation, being ranked #9 for the 2013-2014 season. Parliamentary debate (or parli) is one of the more extemporaneous Speech & Debate events. Unlike other forms of debate, such as Public Forum and Lincoln-Douglas, you are only given 20 minutes to prep out a case. Parliamentary debate is a partner-based event that requires a mix of the ability to think quickly and a good amount of speaking prowess. Topics are assigned at random and are left to the debaters to come up with a fair and acceptable interpretation. Evergreen Valley Speech & Debate has recently had a lot of success in Parliamentary Debate with some of our teams breaking to outrounds at Stanford, James Logan, and Santa Clara; it is the perfect event for students who might not necessarily have a lot of time to work on a debate case and want to gain content knowledge on a wide variery of subjects that effect our world today.





Lincoln Douglas Debate

Lincoln-Douglas debate (LD debate) is a one-on-one debate event that focuses on ethical issues. The resolutions are moral statements whose truth values are debated by the affirmative, who argues that the resolution is true, and the negative, who argues that the resolution is false . Examples of recent resolutions include: "A government has the obligation to lessen the economic gap between its rich and poor citizens", "Individuals have a moral obligation to assist people in need", and "States ought not possess nuclear weapons". Unlike other forms of debate, LD relies heavily on philosophy (especially moral and political philosophy), good empirical data, and logical analysis. Debates will often involve a clash between two competing philosophical or political positions.
In recent years, LD debate has also begun to absorb elements of Policy Debate. This has introduced many more forms of argumentation into LD debate, including plans, counterplans, disadvantages, topicality, theory and kritiks, but these arguments are only present in more advanced levels of LD debate. Due to the introduction of Policy style arguments, the LD debate metagame has largely diverged into two major formats: "lay LD", which focuses more on persuasion, appealing to a wider audience, speaking skills, value debate, and emotional responses, and "circuit LD", which focuses more on fast delivery, Policy style arguments, a more theoretical outlook on debate, and a more demanding research burden.
No matter which format, LD debate helps provide students with a deeper understanding of both sides of important issues, such as animal rights and universal health care, knowledge of crucial philosophical questions, greater analytical and refutation abilities, greater public speaking skills, and ultimately the critical thinking skills needed to succeed in the 21st century.