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These speeches are orations or excerpts of orations that have been publicly delivered at some time and place by their authors, who may or may not be expert speakers. The coach must be able to prove that the oration was given for the purpose of public address to an audience. Public address does not include poetry readings, singing performances, storytelling events, standup comedy routines, or speeches given in fictional works.

Examples of LEGAL pieces:

Commencement Addresses (e.g. John Kennedy @ American University)

TED Talks (e.g. Do Schools Kill Creativity; Sir Ken Robinson)

GOP/DNC addresses (e.g. Barack Obama @ the 2004 DNC)


TED Talks recognized as poetry (e.g. To This Day; Shane Koyczan)

Speeches From Fiction (e.g. Always Be Closing speech; from Glengerry Glen Ross)

Moth Readings or Button Poetry

The full list of rules is available on page 42 of the Tournament Manual.

If you have any questions about the eligibility of a piece, please contact our Rules Committee Chair at cchenowith@ihsfa.org

Summer 2022 - Revisions

The ISSDA Board voted to allow Extemp students to double in all events with the exception of Broadcasting, Discussion, and the other Extemp. Extemp competitors now have the opportunity to compete in an additional seven events (i.e. Interp).

Jan. 2022 Revisions

The following rules will now apply as we enter Speech Sectionals and State:

1. Extemp competitors are now permitted to use the internet during their prep. Students may NOT use the internet to communicate or collaborate with others during their prep time as all other rules regarding Extemp still apply. (X.C.4)

2. Sectional Tournament directors are encouraged to use e-ballots at Sectional tournaments if possible. (VII.D.12.d)

3. The State Speech tournament will use e-balloting for the entirety of the tournament. (VII.E.4.e)

Tournament Manual Updates for 2021-2022 Season

  1. Sectional Entry Cap Adjusted to 36 Entries

After much discussion, the board voted to adjust the entry cap at Sectionals from forty to thirty-six entries. This will hopefully help close the gap between larger and smaller programs during the postseason. Further, this will prevent larger programs from packing events that typically draw fewer competitors. This change was added to the tournament manual over the weekend of our Coaches’ Conference and will be in effect during the 2022 Sectional Tournament.

  1. Interp Rules

Multiple rules have been contracted into fewer and more easily understandable bullet points. A focus is also added in clarifying:

  • A single poem may be used in DRAMA, HUMOR, and DUO; multiple poems may still be used in POI and POETRY

  • There are now clearer rules concerning the introduction of pieces. If a competitor has multiple poems by the same author, you only need to mention the author once after naming the collection of works.

  • Maintaining a theme in POETRY and judging OP based on theme/writing are not rules, but judge guidelines.

  1. Congress

  • Judges will now be replaced in the preliminary rounds of Congress at State Debate

  1. Judge Strike List (also known as the Judge Scratch List)

  • At State Debate a Judge Strike List will no longer be offered

Virtual Rules Summary for Coaches, Judges, and Competitors:

This document is not a full summary of the rules, but a guide to major rules that have been created or retained for the Virtual State Speech Tournament. For the definitive manual regarding the updated rules, please consult the Virtual Rules on the IHSFA Website. These are also available in Appendix D of the Tournament Manual.

Event Guidelines:

1. Broadcasting will not permit the use of electronically generated sounds.

2. Discussion IS allowing microphones to remain ON during rounds. Discussion competitors may consult the internet during rounds.

3. Duos (as well as OP Duos) must perform from separate cameras. Masks are NOT required. Consult the IHSFA website for a tutorial video.

4. Impromptu must remain on screen during prep time. This will ensure that competitors are NOT using the internet.

5. Extemporaneous competitors may use the internet during their prep time.

6. No special video effects are permitted. Backgrounds should maintain a professional tone.

7. Observers are NOT permitted in the virtual rooms. Physical observers are permitted, but must not be visible, audible, or offering any aid during performances.

Maintained Rules to Keep in Mind

*While these are not in the Virtual Rules, they are retained from the Tournament Manual

1. Recording of performances is not permitted by any means.

2. A student may not use material from the same source in more than one year or in more than one event.

3. Even though Informative students are using internet enabled devices in order to perform virtually, the use of any other electronic devices is still prohibited.

4. If at any time you are uncertain about the rules for this season, please consult Tab Staff before implementing them or using them to inform scoring.

January 2021 Update Summary:

  1. Judge Descriptions:

    1. The Tournament Manual now provides explicit definitions of A, B, and C judges. These can be found in I.C.14 of the Tournament Manual.

  1. Public Forum Debate Prep Time

    1. Prep time has been extended from 2 minutes to 3 minutes. This change has been applied in III.C.7

  1. Programmed Oral Interpretation (POI)

    1. Language has been added to clarify introduction of selections. This is more aligned with what NSDA is doing with regard to news articles. So, instead of giving the title and name of the reporter for an article, the student would say an article from NY Times. This update was added as X.F.5.a & X.F.5.b

  1. Virtual Rules

    1. Virtual Debate Rules are now listed in Appendix D

    2. Virtual Speech Rules are now listed in Appendix D