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. 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Past Individual Event Winners
|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||Eric Tang||USA|
|Impromptu Speaking||Elizabeth Roberts||Canada|
|Interpretive Reading||Nicole Sung||Australia|
|Persuasive Speaking||Rowan Mockler||South Africa|
|After-dinner Speaking||Angela Xiao||USA|
|2017||Parliamentary Debate||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||Angela Lu||Canada|
|Impromptu Speaking||Eugene Cloete||South Africa|
|Interpretive Reading||Saara Chaudry||Canada|
|Persuasive Speaking||Maria Ivoditova||Canada|
|After-dinner Speaking||McKenna Goodson||USA|
|2022||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|
- Founding History of the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships
- Hosts of Worlds Record
- Worlds 2007 Events Schedule
- http://www.iispsl.org/history.html History of the International Independent Schools Public Speaking League
- 1988 Worlds Constitution
- WIDPSC 2016 Grand Finals - Parliamentary Debate, retrieved 2022-08-13
- WIDPSC 2016 Grand Finals - Persuasive Speaking, retrieved 2022-08-13
- WIDPSC 2016 Grand Finals - After Dinner Speaking, retrieved 2022-08-13
- WIDPSC 2017 Grand Final Debate, retrieved 2022-08-13
- WIDPSC 2021 Grand Finals: Debate, retrieved 2022-08-13
- WIDPSC 2021 Grand Finals: Impromptu Speaking, retrieved 2022-08-13
- WIDPSC 2021 Grand Finals: Interpretive Reading, retrieved 2022-08-13
- WIDPSC 2021 Grand Finals: Persuasive Speaking, retrieved 2022-08-13
- WIDPSC 2021 Grand Finals: After Dinner Speaking, retrieved 2022-08-13
- WIDPSC - Sun Apr 17 - Grand Finals, retrieved 2022-08-13
- Worlds 2014, Hong Kong
- Worlds 2010, Lithuanian Debating Society, Lithuania
- Worlds 2009, Reading Blue Coats School, England
- Worlds 2008, Max-Born-Gymnasium and Lessing-Gymnasium, Germany
- Worlds 2007, Diocesan College (Bishops), South Africa
- World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships Information Page