Penn Speech & Debate

Tryout information

To our Prospective Members,

 The University of Pennsylvania Speech and Debate team is a tight knit organization dedicated to success in rhetoric, acting, and beyond. Our team includes regional finalists, national qualifiers, and national champions. Those who participate find the training in public speaking and research to be invaluable wherever they go. For example, one of our former captains is now a Rhodes Scholar studying at Oxford University. Other famous people who have competed in Speech and Debate include Oprah, Bruce Springsteen, Nelson Mandela, and John F. Kennedy. Most importantly, we are a close family. Traveling, competing, and celebrating--the experiences we share with our teammates are truly rewarding. With that, we’d like to welcome you and wish you the best of luck with your tryouts! 

Penn Speech and Debate Team     

Tryouts are held at the beginning of each semester and will consist of two parts:

1) The first part will be a short performance which will showcase your talent as a speaker, actor, or debater. Your performance (if you are auditioning for public address or interpretation) should be memorized. Once accepted, competitors may switch relatively freely between public address, interpretation, and debate, so choose the category that you feel most comfortable with for tryouts. 

2) The second part will consist an interview with members of team. Relax and be yourself! 

Please see link for event descriptions: Events

Public Address (After Dinner, Persuasive, Informative, Extemporaneous, Impromptu)

Please see link for ADS/Persuasive/Informative auditions: Public Address Audition

Please see link for Extemp auditions: Extemp Audition

For those interested in Impromptu, you will choose one out of three quotations to speak for three minutes on. You will have one minute to prepare the speech. Come prepared with a note card and writing implement. You can use your note card during the speech.

Interpretation (Prose, Poetry, Dramatic Interpretation, Duo Interpretation)

Please see link for Interpretation auditions: Interp Audition

Debate (Public Forum, Parliamentary)

If you are interested in Parli/PF, you will be given a resolution at the beginning of your audition. You will have 2 minutes to prepare a 5 minute statement. You may choose how to divide your 5 minute speaking time between the opening statement and the rebuttal. Come prepared with paper and a writing implement.

Please direct any questions regarding the auditions to