Tournaments- Stoa's Guide On What To Expect

Check registration dates and times. Register early—some tournaments fill up quickly. That being said, it is always worth asking if there’s room if you decide to register at a later date. Some tournaments will be more than happy to add you in!

Script submission is usually required for Platform Speeches (Original Oratory, Expository, and Persuasive) and Interpretive Speeches (Duo, Open, Dramatic, and Humorous).

    1. Is there electronic script submission? This will be stated on the tournament website. If so, you need to turn in your script before the tournament.
    2. If not, you need to turn in your script when you arrive at check-in.
    3. Here’s a helpful video: 7 Tips to Rapid Review & Approve for Platforms and Interps

For most tournaments, you need to sign up and pay for meals if you are planning to eat at the tournament.

Competitors need to wear professional dress. See the Stoa dress code. All competitors should plan to wear a jacket. Parents do not have a dress code. Most parents dress comfortably but nicely.

Competitors will need to be at the tournament from start to finish. (The exception is if Speech/TP & LD/Parli are on separate days.)

Remember—Speech and Debate is primarily about the skills and knowledge you are gaining—not about the awards! We often learn more through disappointment than through victory.

For each speech event, the tournament will post a list of competitors for each room. You should compete in that order whenever possible. Sometimes this is impossible because either you or other students are entered in multiple events; however, it is your job to be ready to go in the room when it is your turn whenever possible. If you are the only competitor outside a room and it is not your turn, go ahead and compete—just tell the judge(s) your name and that you are going out of order. Keep in mind that it is important for the round to keep moving forward so the tournament doesn’t get behind.

When it is your turn, walk into the room, wait until the judges look up at you. Then say, “My name is __________ . Thank you so much for judging”. Some speech students ask “would you like to shake hands” while others ask to shake hands with the judge after the speech. Next ask, “Are my judges ready? Is the timer ready” They will probably nod, and then you may begin.

In debate all competitors will shake hands with the judge(s) and introduce themselves before the round. In speech the competitor will introduce themselves at the beginning but often wait until the end to shake hands and say thank you.

In speech the timepiece should be facing you and the judge should start the timer. If this does not happen it is appropriate to stop and ask the judge to start the timer. At the end of your speech, the judge should stop the timepiece. If the judge does not, you may reach forward and stop it. You must finish your speech in the allotted time.

In debate you will self-time. Remember to bring a timer!

If you sign-up for an event, then compete in the event. Do not drop from the event. If you need to use a script, use a script, but still compete. This will be a great practice for you, it will help the tournament staff, and your continued participation might enable someone else to get a green check.

Do not pull out of a tournament after registration closes. Especially during the week leading up to the tournament this can create time-consuming difficulties for the volunteer staff—particularly in tab. If you have a sickness or emergency that makes and pull-out necessary, let the tournament know as soon as possible. This is especially true on the morning of the tournament. If you are sick, let the tournament director know immediately because rooms will have to be rearranged and this could stall the tournament.

Be on time; the tournament will start without you.

If a competitor is concerned about something that happened in a round,  they should speak to their coach or the tournament director—not to other competitors. 


Plan to stay for the duration of the tournament and to help with judging. You will be trained at the tournament. Do not judge students from our club! 

Finish your ballots immediately following the round.

Vocabulary to know:

  • Postings: The lists of room numbers and competitors that are posted at the start of each round. The taping of these postings to the wall generates a great deal of excitement during debate rounds because it shows which debaters are competing against each other. In both speech and debate rounds it shows competitors their room numbers.
  • Breaking: The students who are ranked the highest in preliminary rounds will advance to outrounds (quarters, semis, finals—it depends on the tournament). These “breaks” are announced to all the students and then posted on the wall.

Above all else, maintain an attitude of grace and have a great time!