Individual Events Across America

Speech and Debate has become so popular amongst all states across the nation that competitors from all over the US often to attend out-of-area tournaments, such as the TOC (Tournament of Champions) and other national tournaments. Because speech and debate has become so widespread, many different forensics leagues exist. These leagues, such as the NFL (National Forensics League), the NCFL (National Catholic Forensics League), and the NFA (National Forensics Association), have different events and rules. Because individual events (speaking events) often vary from state to state, when competing out of state one should take notice that the rules at certain tournaments may be different from the rules that one is accustomed.

There is a great variety of individual events offered at different tournaments. Some states offer events that do not exist in other states. For example, the main individual events offered at the NFL National Tournament include: Extemporaneous Speaking (National and International), Original Oratory, Dramatic Interpretation, Humorous Interpretation, and Duo Interpretation - events that are common among nearly all speech and debate competitions nationwide. The CHSSA State Tournament in California offers these events along with several others, such as Original Advocacy, Oratorical Interpretation, Expository Speaking, Thematic Interpretation, and Impromptu Speaking. If one were to compete in Thematic Interpretation in California, he would not be able to compete in this event at the NFL Nationals.

In other forensic leagues, the events offered are quite similar to those of the NFL but are referred to by different names. The NFA (National Forensics Association) offers events such as Persuasion and Oratorical Declamation. These events are similar to Original Oratory and Oratorical Interpretation, an event in which one interprets a famous speech. Rhetorical Criticism, After Dinner Speaking, Prose, Serious Interpretation, and Duet Acting are events that are unique to certain leagues such as the NFA.

If one is to compete in out of league tournaments, he should be sure to learn about the different events offered. Also, one should get a firm understanding of the rules of the event. Many rules are specific to certain regions.

Take, for example, Impromptu Speaking, which is offered as a main event in several states and as a supplementary event in the NFL National Tournament. In states such as South Carolina, Missouri, and Colorado, Impromptu Speaking is rarely offered at all. In California, the speaker has two minutes to plan a speech after receiving his topic, and five minutes to speak. In other states, there is only one minute to prepare, while in some states contestants are give only four minutes to speak. From state to state, the rules of events change. Therefore it is prudent to learn the exact rules of each tournament right before entering in order to avoid breaking them.

Competing out of area is a great experience for anyone involved in competitive public speaking. In order to be comfortable at tournaments, it is important to remember that different areas offer different events. Also, the rules vary and may be different from the rules one is used to. Even though the rules and events of speech and debate differ across leagues, public speaking is an enjoyable experience for all who participate in it, regardless of event or area.

By Nura Kawa