World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships

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The World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships (WIDPSC) is an annual English language debating and public speaking tournament for individual high school-level students representing different countries. It is the public speaking equivalent of the World Schools Debating Championships.


The tournament was founded in 1988 by Reading Blue Coat School, St. John's-Ravenscourt School, the Debating Association of New England Independent Schools, Taunton School, Queen Anne's School, and The English School, Nicosia. It was one of the first international competitions to individually rank high school-level students in debating and public speaking.[1] The tournament was founded the same year as the World Schools Debating Championships to respond to the desire for an equivalent competition for public speaking at the international level.

The first Worlds was hosted by Reading Blue Coat School in Reading, England and continued to be hosted in England until 1995. The late 1990s saw the tournament's hosts began to cycle through different countries, with Argentina hosting in 1998, Botswana hosting in 1999, and Cyprus hosting in 2000.[2]



The tournament usually takes five to six days, with two to three rounds of events daily. The opening day of the tournament involves opening ceremonies and a guest speaker. The last two days do not involve any regular competition, except for those advancing to the final rounds. These days are occupied by a full day excursion or activity, and a formal closing banquet that involves the grand finals and awards ceremony. The grand finals of the tournament are considered to be a display of the tournament's best competitors. Some notable past locations of the grand finals have included the Utah State Capitol, Seimas of Lithuania and Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. Competitors also partake in other activities and outings organized by the host school during the week. These often involve exploring the city of the tournament.[3]

Competitors must compete in four out of five events: parliamentary debate, impromptu speaking, interpretive reading, and either persuasive speaking or after-dinner speaking. Students compete in two preliminary rounds for each event. This is followed by a round of finals with approximately the top 10% of competitors competing. This is followed by a Grand Final show round, with the top two or three speakers in each character (the top 4 for debating).

Adjudication and Ranking[edit]

Adjudication for the tournament consists of members of the general public invited as judges, as well as one coach judge per room. Prior to the tournament, the host school will publicize the tournament and individuals locally associated with public speaking and debating and the host school will volunteer to judge. These individuals then participate in one or more training workshops. Scores are reviewed by a committee of coaches and experienced officials to discern for bias. The rationale behind this selection method stems from the founders' intent to assess ability on the basis of speaking to the 'common man or woman', not a specialized individual. Each competitor is judged by 40 to 50 judges by the end of the competition.

The top seven to twelve competitors in each event advance to final rounds, and the top two (or four for debate) competitors in the finals advance to the grand finals. Categorical rankings are decided on performance in the grand finals and finals. The final rounds are judged by coaches whose students are not in the category they are adjudicating. The overall ranking is based solely on the combined results of the preliminary rounds.

A notable difference between the WIDPSC and the World Schools Debating Championships – the parallel major international competition which specializes in debating rather than public speaking – is that WSDC's primary focus is on the ranking of each country's team as opposed to each individual participant's ranking. Accordingly, students at the WIDPSC often compete against fellow members of their country's team.


Students from numerous countries have participated in the tournament, including: Australia, Hong Kong, Canada, the United States, England, South Africa, Lithuania, Pakistan, Cyprus, Argentina, Botswana, Israel, India, South Korea, Zimbabwe and Germany. Additionally, foreign nationals enrolled at schools abroad often compete, but are not officially recognized as representing an additional country. Usually participants are in their last two years of high school.

Competitors can qualify in several ways. These are: through direct application to their national debating and/or public speaking organization, through a national tournament, or if they belong to one of the founding schools, by their decision. Countries that have a more established debating and public speaking program often use qualifying competitions, which are extremely competitive. This is the method currently used by South Korea, Canada, the United States, Australia, Hong Kong, and South Africa. Alternatively, those with nascent or smaller programs rely on a handful of schools to select and send members; this includes Cyprus, Germany, and Pakistan.

Additionally, half of the team from the United States and Canada qualify through the International Independent Schools Public Speaking Championships. This competition is restricted to independent schools, and is of a similar format but of lesser significance and does not have competitor qualification requirements.[4]


The championships is managed by The Independent Public Speaking Association, or IPSA. The IPSA is composed of schools and leagues that participate in the tournament on a regular basis. The organization's predominant responsibility is to oversee the tournament, and decisions about Worlds are made by general consensus at an annual general meeting. IPSA is not involved in the particulars of each tournament, and aside from a basic rubric, host schools have considerable freedom in the tournament's execution.

IPSA also contains an Executive Council composed of the founding schools and schools that have attended three out of five years and hosted the competition. The Executive Council acts in an advisory capacity to host schools and when IPSA is unable to convene. It is responsible for the tournament's long-term sustainability.[5]

Past Championships[edit]

Year Host School Venue Winner
1988 Reading Blue Coat School Reading, England Joel Hechter
1989 Reading Blue Coat School and Queen Anne's School Reading, England Rob Goffin
1990 Reading Blue Coat School and Queen Anne's School Reading, England Atul Verma
1991 Taunton School Somerset, England James Priory
1992 Aylesbury Grammar School Aylesbury, England David Gratzer
1993 Reading Blue Coat School and Queen Anne's School Reading, England Gary Harding
1994 Taunton School Somerset, England Jessica Riley
1995 The English School, Nicosia Nicosia, Cyprus Alex Michaelides
1996 Reading Blue Coat School Reading, England Luke Jones
1997 Taunton School Somerset, England Joanne McNally
1998 Northlands School Buenos Aires, Argentina Michael Kives
1999 Maru a Pula School Gaborone, Botswana Michael Kives
2000 The English School, Nicosia Nicosia, Cyprus Kristopher Ade
2001 Queen Anne's School Reading, England Elliot Tapper
2002 Michaelhouse Balgowan, South Africa Daniel Wilner
2003 Queen Anne's School Reading, England Rowan Dorin
2004 Wasatch Academy Salt Lake City, United States Sarah Mortazavi
2005 The English School, Nicosia Nicosia, Cyprus Zahid Sunderani
2006 The Hotchkiss School Lakeville, United States Shakir Rahim
2007 Diocesan College (Bishops) Cape Town, South Africa Shakir Rahim
2008 Max-Born-Gymnasium and Lessing-Gymnasium Backnang / Winnenden, Germany Seth Rosenberg
2009 Reading Blue Coat School Reading, England Edward Hicks
2010 Educational Debate Centre Lithuania Druskininkai, Lithuania Zeenia Framroze
2011 Moreton Bay Boys' College Brisbane, Australia Nic Martin
2012 Moreton Bay Boys' College Brisbane, Australia Ryan Pistorius
2013 Clifton School Durban, South Africa Connor Campbell
2014 Educational Debate Centre Lithuania Druskininkai, Lithuania Daniel Huang
2015 Hong Kong Schools’ Debating and Public Speaking Community Hong Kong, Hong Kong Samantha Starkey
2016 Shady Side Academy Pittsburgh, United States Natalie Ganzhorn
2017 Ravenswood School for Girls Sydney, Australia Olivia Railton
2018 Diocesan College (Bishops) Cape Town, South Africa Eleanor Lawton-Wade and Megan Campbell (tie)
2019 Branksome Hall Toronto, Canada Anna Croxon
2020 N/A Online Rohan Naidoo
2021 Leaders Academy Online Ruby Grinberg
2022 The Country Day School Online Maria Ivoditova
2023 Clifton School Durban, South Africa Erick Yang
2024 Canberra Girls Grammar School Canberra, Australia TBD

Past Individual Event Winners[edit]

Year Category Winner Country
2010 Parliamentary Debate Jessica Hichens South Africa
Impromptu Speaking Thomas Diment UK
Interpretive Reading Adam Litman Canada
Persuasive Speaking Saad Sohail Pakistan
After-dinner Speaking George Alexander Charalambous Cyprus
2011 Parliamentary Debate Tom Diment UK
Impromptu Speaking Cameron Ewing USA
Interpretive Reading Kristine Ramsbottom Canada
Persuasive Speaking Heather Pickerell Hong Kong
After-dinner Speaking Oliver Kelham UK
2012 Parliamentary Debate Connor Campbell Canada
Impromptu Speaking Priyanka Sekhar USA
Interpretive Reading Lucien Wang Hong Kong
Persuasive Speaking Natasha Dusabe South Africa
After-dinner Speaking Neil Kemister Australia
2013 Parliamentary Debate Joseph Kahn South Africa
Impromptu Speaking Nicolo Mazaro USA
Interpretive Reading Ryan Sherbo Canada
Persuasive Speaking Eleonora Lekaviciute Lithuania
After-dinner Speaking Emily Leijer Australia
2014 Parliamentary Debate Christopher Skriols Australia
Impromptu Speaking Emma Buckland South Africa
Interpretive Reading Stephanie Fennell Canada
Persuasive Speaking Lulutho Ngcongolo South Africa
After-dinner Speaking Brendan Allan South Africa
2015 Parliamentary Debate Olivia Railton Canada
Impromptu Speaking Anant Butala Australia
Interpretive Reading Imaan Kherani Canada
Persuasive Speaking Desmond Fairall South Africa
After-dinner Speaking Shimali De Silva Hong Kong
2016 Parliamentary Debate[6] Eric Tang USA
Impromptu Speaking Elizabeth Roberts Canada
Interpretive Reading Nicole Sung Australia
Persuasive Speaking[7] Rowan Mockler South Africa
After-dinner Speaking[8] Angela Xiao USA
2017 Parliamentary Debate[9] Olivia Railton Canada
Impromptu Speaking Liam Brown Canada
Interpretive Reading Lucas Irwin Cyprus
Persuasive Speaking Jacqueline Farrel Australia
After-dinner Speaking James Morphakis Cyprus
2018 Parliamentary Debate Thomas Willingham Australia
Impromptu Speaking Auran Vatan USA
Interpretive Reading Zaki Lakhani Canada
Persuasive Speaking Samuel Roach Australia
After-dinner Speaking John van Niekerk South Africa
2019 Parliamentary Debate Andrei Comloson Canada
Impromptu Speaking Lilian Borger Canada
Interpretive Reading Julia Nhawu South Africa
Persuasive Speaking Anna Croxon Canada
After-dinner Speaking Markandeya Karthik Hong Kong
2020 Parliamentary Debate Rohan Naidoo South Africa
Impromptu Speaking Thomas Fernando Australia
Interpretive Reading Flo Auerbach USA
Persuasive Speaking Maylee Mann Canada
After-dinner Speaking Flo Auerbach USA
2021 Parliamentary Debate[10] Angela Lu Canada
Impromptu Speaking[11] Eugene Cloete South Africa
Interpretive Reading[12] Saara Chaudry Canada
Persuasive Speaking[13] Maria Ivoditova Canada
After-dinner Speaking[14] McKenna Goodson USA
2022[15] Parliamentary Debate Caridee Chau China
Impromptu Speaking Emma Jean Hermacinski USA
Interpretive Reading Kayleigh Lei Australia
Persuasive Speaking Nicholas Chung Hong Kong
After-dinner Speaking Julia Shephard USA
2023 Parliamentary Debate Ben Anderson South Africa
Impromptu Speaking Thomas Harrick USA
Interpretive Reading Edward Gao Canada
Persuasive Speaking Evan Peters Canada
After-dinner Speaking Graham Bateman USA


  1. ^ Founding History of the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships
  2. ^ Hosts of Worlds Record
  3. ^ Worlds 2007 Events Schedule
  4. ^ History of the International Independent Schools Public Speaking League
  5. ^ 1988 Worlds Constitution
  6. ^ WIDPSC 2016 Grand Finals - Parliamentary Debate, retrieved 2022-08-13
  7. ^ WIDPSC 2016 Grand Finals - Persuasive Speaking, retrieved 2022-08-13
  8. ^ WIDPSC 2016 Grand Finals - After Dinner Speaking, retrieved 2022-08-13
  9. ^ WIDPSC 2017 Grand Final Debate, retrieved 2022-08-13
  10. ^ WIDPSC 2021 Grand Finals: Debate, retrieved 2022-08-13
  11. ^ WIDPSC 2021 Grand Finals: Impromptu Speaking, retrieved 2022-08-13
  12. ^ WIDPSC 2021 Grand Finals: Interpretive Reading, retrieved 2022-08-13
  13. ^ WIDPSC 2021 Grand Finals: Persuasive Speaking, retrieved 2022-08-13
  14. ^ WIDPSC 2021 Grand Finals: After Dinner Speaking, retrieved 2022-08-13
  15. ^ WIDPSC - Sun Apr 17 - Grand Finals, retrieved 2022-08-13

External links[edit]