Penn Speech & Debate

Frequently Asked Questions


What is Speech and Debate?
Speech is the use of rhetoric, emotion, and argument to make a convincing point. The two major categories within Speech are Interpretation and Public Address. Interpretation is a form of acting which seeks to evoke emotion and thought through drama, prose, and poetry. Public Address is your more typical public speaking experience where you speak with the intent to persuade, inform, or entertain.

Debate is the art of argumentation and contention. It is very structured and places emphasis on cogent points, refutations, and data. 

How do I join?
Please see the Tryouts page for more information.

What is the time commitment?
Much of what makes our team successful is dedication both in and out of practice time. Our success is determined by the great initiative of our members. That being said, practices will generally be held once a week for two hours.

How many tournaments do you attend?
The team will compete at approximately 8 tournaments throughout the year. Those who qualify will then go to nationals.  

Where do you travel?
Most of our competitions are within the Tri-state area. However, we do attend competitions around the country (past locations include Iowa, Virginia, California, Texas, and others).

Do you have social events?
Yes! We have a variety of different social events including BYOs, laser tag, hiking, sports, and much more. We hold at least 1 large scale event each semester including open mics, banquets, etc.   

Are members able to participate in other activities?

Definitely! Our members are unique and diverse and their interests reflect that. We have members who participate in student government, Medical Emergency Response Team, acting groups, a cappella groups, sports teams, and many more. 

Who can join as a non-competing member?
Anyone may join the team as a non-competing member. Those who join as non-competing members are generally interested in improving their public speaking ability without the commitment to practices and tournaments or are interested in trying out at a future date. It is also possible for non-competing members, who show exceptional dedication and work ethic, to be invited to join the team as a competing member!

Is Speech and Debate fun?
Of course! It's a great chance to meet new people and make friends that last a lifetime. Being a part of the forensics team is one of those amazing experiences that is difficult to describe with words. So join and find out!