Looking to understand a little about the different events speech and debate includes? Here's an explanation of the "regular" events:
The Lincoln-Douglas Debate is a one-on-one debate and is primarily focused on competing values. Every two months, a resolution is decided upon by coaches across the nation and debated at all tournaments within that two-month period. Resolutions generally take the form in which two values are pitted against each other, such as: "Resolved: A just social order ought to place the principle of equality above that of liberty." In this resolution, the value of liberty and equality are at odds, and the goal of the debate should be to determine which value is of greater importance in a just social order. Other resolutions may not be as clear or blatantly straightforward in establishing what values are in conflict. After an examination of these resolutions, underlying values will emerge. Debaters then write cases (the affirmative should write a 6 minute case and the negative should write a 3 and 1/2 minute case) that they present and continue the debate in the form of spontaneous rebuttals that should not bring up any new arguments that weren't already addressed in the cases.
Ted Turner Debate
The Ted Turner Debate is a two-person team debate of current issues. The first and second speakers should prepare in advance the reasons for adoption (or rejection) of the topic. Arguments should be carefully worded to be accurate and persuasive. Delivery should be conversational and extempore in style but absent flaws like vocal pauses, fast delivery, poor articulation, and lack of vocal variety. The second speaker, in addition to the presentation of prepared material, may respond to the most important argument made by the first speaker. The first crossfire should be used to clarify arguments and define where clash exists. Probing questions to expose weakness are useful.
The third and fourth speakers have two duties: To attack (refute) the case (arguments) of their opponents; and to answer attacks made upon their own arguments by their opponents. The second crossfire should advance the debate by finding areas of agreement and attacking arguments with which the debater does not agree. Previously prepared dilemmas may be posed. Contradictions should be exposed. The summary speakers should consolidate their positions by defending the most important point in their own case and attack the most important point in the opponent's case. Select only the most important issue or issues and cover them thoroughly.
Student Congress is simple in format and difficult to master. You receive a copy of the issues you will debate on, in the form of single-page bills and resolutions, a week before the tournament. When you get to your House or Senate (a chamber with about thiry of your competitors in it), your room will elect a Presiding Officer, and will decide in what order to debate the legislation. The Presiding Officer, or PO, will call on students to give speeches or ask questions.
When you do want to give a speech, raise your hand when the PO asks for speeches on your side and hope to God that he/she calls on you. Otherwise, sit still and pay attention to your opponents' speeches, making sure to ask questions whenever you have the opportunity. Speeches are timed at three minutes. After your speech, you have a minute with which to answer questions from your competitors.
At the end of your session (usually an hour or two long), judges decide who is the best speaker based on quality of speeches, quality and quantity of questions asked, and quality of responses to other people's questions.