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Frequently Asked Questions

See also the Team Contacts and Expectations (PDF)

How and when can I join the team?

View the How to Join page to see the terms for eligibility and membership.

When and where are meetings?

Beginning Fall Quarter, 2023, we will be holding meetings and practices on campus—primarily at the Department of Communication (Marshall College)—all following university and government health guidelines. Please check the calendar for the times and locations of our GBMs and practices. We also have an orientation video for those who are looking to learn more about what we do!

Do I need any experience?

No. We are open to all skill levels and welcome new members, even those who have never given a public speech in their life.

I’m terrible at public speaking. May I still join the team?

Yes! In fact, many of our members joined the team to improve their public speaking skills. We, as UCSD Speech and Debate, offer a space to practice and improve your skills as a public communicator.

What are the different Speech and Debate events/formats in which I can compete?

Please view the Coaching page to see more about the events we compete in at tournaments.

What will I do at a typical practice?

During a normal academic year, you can expect to spend most of your time at practice, well, practicing! Generally, this involves running lives rounds of your preferred events (i.e. giving a prepared/unprepared speech, debate) in front of a small audience (usually the coaches and other team members). The audience will give you feedback on how to improve, and you can expect to do this once or several times at practice, depending on your event. Events like NPDA debate can take up almost 2 hours for both preparation and speaking, while an event like Impromptu Speech will only take 7 minutes from beginning to end (though a practice session for Impromptu will still last about an hour).

How much time should I expect to invest?

We understand that this is an extracurricular activity, so obviously academics, work, and family take precedence. However, competitive speakers and debaters should expect to invest 3-6 hours a week at minimum for practice time + GBM, not counting time at tournaments, and be able to plan several weeks in advance for the tournaments they wish to attend. 

Is attendance required?

Attendance to GBMs and practices is mandatory to be a competing member of the team. We understand this is an extracurricular, and so we’re somewhat lenient on attendance. However, consistent attendance is vital to improving your skills as a communicator, and we only award Co-Curricular Credit to those with excellent practice and GBM attendance records. The best way to learn to speak to other people is by speaking to other people.

How frequently do you compete?

In Fall and Winter quarters, we send team members out to about 5 tournaments a quarter. Most of these tournaments are within the greater Southern California area. Spring quarters usually see fewer tournaments, although some of these few tournaments are national-level tournaments. Team members are expected to compete in at least two tournaments in every Quarter, but tournament attendance is not limited. In fact, you will improve your skills more quickly by competing in tournaments, so tournament attendance is encouraged! 

How are competitions structured?

Competitions are based on the Forensics Speech and Debate model. Don’t worry if you don’t know what that is. Essentially, competitions are structured like sports tournaments: In Speech events, where you give a speech, prepared or unprepared, in front of a judge, you are given a score based on your performance. After several rounds, those with the highest scores move on to an elimination round, and compete for gold, silver, bronze, etc. In Debate events, you, with or without a partner, argue a topic for a given side to a judge. The judge will decide a winner (based on several parameters which are different between debate formats), and this team will move on to a higher bracket.

I’m only interested in Speech, not Debate or vice versa. Is that okay?

Yes, plenty of competitive members of our team do only Speech or only Debate. While we encourage members to do both, it’s not a requirement.

Are there any membership fees?

No. We do not require or have fees, dues, or subscriptions of any kind. We do, however, strongly encourage you to help us find volunteer judges if you wish to go to tournaments. Talk with the Head Coach to learn more about how you can help the team find volunteer judges.

Do I need to have any special equipment or materials?

No. The only equipment we use is sharp clothing and pen and paper.

Are there any other benefits to joining the team?

Yes. You are eligible to receive Co-Curricular Credit on your transcript.