Public Forum Debate


1. Public Forum Debate is audience friendly debate. Two pairs (teams) debate monthly controversial topics ripped from newspaper headlines. Rounds begin with a coin toss between the competing teams to determine side and order (Pro-Con or Con-Pro). Public Forum tests skills in argumentation, cross-examination, and refutation.

2. The resolution will be the official monthly NFL Public Forum debate topic.

3. Contestants are to be capable of debating both sides of the resolution.

4. The timed format of the debate is as follows:

 1st Speaker Constructive Team A 4 minutes

 1st Speaker Constructive Team B 4 minutes

 1st Speaker Cross-Examination   3 minutes

 2nd Speaker Constructive Team A         4 minutes

 2nd Speaker Constructive Team B         4 minutes

 2nd Speaker Cross-Examination  3 minutes

 1st Speaker Summary Team A     2 minutes

 1st Speaker Summary Team B     2 minutes

 Grand Crossfire – all speakers      3 minutes

 2nd Speaker Final Focus Team A 2 minute

 2nd Speaker Final Focus Team B 2 minute

5. Each team will have a maximum of two minutes preparation time. At the expiration of team’s preparation time, the watch will be started for that team’s next speech.

6. Teams who do not arrive within fifteen minutes of the round’s scheduled start will be given a loss; however, check with the tab room before giving a forfeit.


7. No contestants in Public Forum may observe one another during the tournament unless he or she has been eliminated from the competition. Contestants in other events may observe a Public Forum round if the judge and competitors permit doing so.

8. Constructive speeches should be original speeches written by the contestant himself or herself

9. All forms of plagiarism must be avoided. Any student found guilty of plagiarism will be disqualified in that tournament. A student found guilty of a second infraction in plagiarism will be prohibited from participating in future WVIFL tournaments. To avoid plagiarism, students must bring to the tournament a typed copy of his/her speeches showing documentation in either MLA or APA style, which includes in-text citations and a Works Cited (MLA) or References (APA) page at the end. The contestant should be ready and able to turn in a copy of speeches to the judge or tournament director if asked.

10. Visual Aids are not prohibited, but are not an intrinsic part and are not the norm of Public Forum debate.