Policy: This is a 2-v-2 debate style that has one topic for the entire year. This kind of debate has the "affirmation" propose a plan to enact a certain policy. The "negation" will then provide reasons why the judge should reject the proposal and can even propose their own counter-plan.
Public Forum: This debate style is also 2-v-2 and changes topic every 2 months. This debate style focuses on affirmative and debate clash. You will provide different contentions supporting your side on both sides of the debate. There is not necessarily a plan that needs to be enacted by the aff, but instead the affirmation is just supporting the resolution.
Lincoln Douglas: Lincoln-Douglas debate is 1-v-1. LD focuses the ideas of social and philosophical issues. There is usually a framework offered to the judge for the round by the competitors. This framework can be morality, justice, democracy, etc. Topics focus on whether or not actors should take on certain policies. There does not have to be a specific policy put forward, but nowadays, plans are not rare. LD debates focus on the moral implications on each side of debate.
Big Questions: This debate format allows you to be on a team of 1 or 2. This means that you can see 1 vs. 1, 2 vs. 2, or 1 vs. 2 rounds. Topics often concern things like religion, philosophy, and science. Topics can be pretty controversial and deep. That is why research for this form of debate differs slightly from the other more policy-oriented topics. The topic is year-long and can be prepared all year.
Congress: For this debate event, you get to role-play as Congresspeople. You have the ability to write a bill about any issue you want to see solved and debate your bill. There will be a "docket" full of many different bills that you will be debating. You are debating whether or not the bill should be passed as a law. You will have access to the docket before the tournament, so you will be able to research your points before the congress round.
Informative: This is a 10 minute speech that has an introduction, 3 main points, and a conclusion. It is just like writing an essay for an English class. You are allowed to write about anything you want, as long as you make sure to cite a few sources throughout your speech. For this event, you also get to use visual aids to enhance your speech. Generally, people use poster boards on a stand as visuals.
Oratory: This event is very similar to Informative Speaking. It is a 10 minute original speech that has an introduction, 3 main points, and a conclusion. The main purpose of this event is to persuade your audience, so pick your topic accordingly. There are no visual aids in this event and your speech must be completely memorized. Other than these basics, there are no other guidelines to follow and you have a lot of freedom to be as creative as possible with your speeches.
Extemporaneous: For this event, you get your speech topic 30 minutes before you have to give a speech. The topic area varies, but is usually about current events. It is super important to stay up to date with news if you are interested in this event! Once you have your topic (which you draw out of a hat), you have 30 minutes to prepare a 5-7 minute long speech. You may use the Internet during this prep time. You cannot have notes during your speech, so this event will teach you how to speak on your feet!
Impromptu: Impromptu is similar to Extemporaneous except there is less prep time. Impromptu topics are not generally related to current events and are very broad. The whole event is 7 minutes long. You will enter your competition room and draw a topic. Once you have your topic, the 7 minute timer starts. It is recommended that you take about 2 minutes to plan your speech in your head. When you're ready, you will give your speech until the 7 minute timer goes off (about a 5 minute speech).
For more info about any of the above events check out the other forums! If you have any additional questions, email me at email@example.com.