What is Speech and Debate?

Welcome to NIU Speech and Debate! We are the oldest student run club on campus founded in [Date]. Our goal is to help you not only become a better speaker, but to think more about topics you normally wouldn't and to broaden your horizons. NIU Speech and Debate has a long and rich history of competitive success both in the state and nationally as well. We have won the Illinois State Debate Tournament two years in a row (2021-22) and have had many members win individual accolades as well.

NIU Debate team in front of homles student center lit red
NIU Debate Team after winning the state championship for the second time in a row. ('21-'22)

Benifits of Joining

Beyond the benefits of becoming a better speaker and more confidence in your ability to portray ideas, there are many other benefits of joining Speech and Debate.

  • Scholarships are available to active and dedicated members of the team. Scholarships applications are open during July for the fall and November for the spring. Scholarships are given out based on commitment to the team and skill level in competition.
  • Community is also a big part of speech and debate. We travel to compete multiple times a semester where you will meet friends that you will have for the rest of your time at NIU.
  • Networking is also a must in speech and debate. When we travel to compete you will meet many students from different schools who you will build relationships with as you compete against them.

What is Forensics?

Forensics is Latin for forensic meaning “to seek truth”. Unlike forensic scientists who use dead bodies “to seek truth”, we seek truth through spoken work and through structured debate. So, while we are technically the NIU Forensics Team we also call ourselves the Speech and Debate team for clarity's sake. We compete in many different “events” like how a track meet works except. Instead of doing the high-jump and the 100-meter sprint, you could do Impromptu Speaking and Persuasive Speaking.

Team Updates


    Speech - Event that fall in this category are also sometimes called “Individual Events” because they are performed individually. This would be similar to some of the speeches you would give in a class like COMS 100 at NIU. Some examples of events in this category are Informative Speaking, Impromptu Speaking, Poetry Interpretation and many more! Visit the Event Resources page for more specific information for each event.


We compete in two debate events, IPDA and Parliamentary Debate.

  • IPDA - Short for International Public Debate, it is a one-on-one debate where the focus isn't on debate jargon and structure but rather who can best convince the judge with both logic and delivery style.
  • PARLI - Short for Parliamentary Debate this is a two-on-two debate where the focus is more on logical debate structure. Unlike IPDA skilled debaters will use the PARLI rules to their advantage. If you like being “technically correct” this event is for you.

How to Join

Anyone is welcome to join NIU Speech and Debate regardless of previous experience. If you are intrested in joining contact one of the coaches and they will get back to you with more information. All the teams contact information can be found here. Also join our facebook group for more team information.