Tournament Invitation

For downloadable PDF version click here!

To download the bid application, click here!


to attend


Seventeenth Annual 

Tournament of Champion

I. Introduction



The Northwestern University Speech Team and the Northwestern University School of Communication are pleased to announce the seventeenth annual Tournament of Champions in Extemporaneous Speaking, to be held Friday, May 3rd, 2018 through Sunday, May 5th, 2019, on Northwestern University’s campus in Evanston, Illinois. This tournament will continue its tradition of offering an unparalleled challenge to extemporaneous speakers across the country: the opportunity to compete against the best speakers in the nation in an environment that showcases the event of extemporaneous speaking. We hope you will join us for this celebration of Extemp and forensics.



2018 Extemporaneous Speaking Results


The TOC Extemp tournament committee would like to congratulate all who qualified for and attended last year’s tournament. We would like to extend special recognition to our finalists:


1st Place: Nikhil Ramaswamy – Plano West High School, Plano, Texas
2nd Place: Elizabeth Khalilian – Plano West High School, Plano, Texas
3rd Place: Alex Weissman – George Washington High School, Denver, Colorado
4th Place:  Kay Rollins – The Potomac School, McLean, Virginia
5th Place: Brian Zheng – Naperville North High School, Naperville, Illinois
6th Place: Clara Enders – Scarsdale High School, Scarsdale, New York



Also, special congratulations to Plano West High School, Plano, Texas for winning the National Extemporaneous Speaking Team Championship.


II. Tournament Details Extemp Overview

Standard NSDA rules for extemporaneous speaking, available on the NSDA website

(, will apply: contestants will have thirty minutes to prepare and seven minutes to deliver a speech addressing one of three topics. Each round will be themed; topic areas will be posted to the TOC Extemp website on April 22, 2019.


All questions will be taken from newspapers and magazines between January 1, 2019 through the day of the event.


Laptops will be allowed in the prep room.  To ensure fairness, all laptop users must comply with the following rules:


  1. Students using computers must do so in the prep room; computers may not be used to prepare in other locations.
  2. Internet access will be allowed. However, students may not use the internet to gain help from coaches, other students, or any person, such that it would prevent the speech from being the original work of the competitor.
  3. Students are prohibited from accessing outlines and speeches that have been written prior to their draw time.
  4. Any student using a computer must be prepared to show prep room staff what they are accessing at any time.


The TOC Extemp reserves the right to disqualify any student that is found in violation of these rules or that resists a reasonable request by prep room staff.  Schools using computers are encouraged to provide one for each student, as multiple students from the same school may draw at the same time.  Speaking order will not be adjusted to accommodate computer use.



Please be aware that representatives from the tournament will be watching rounds at random points throughout the event to record and verify sources. Any student found to be using a source inaccurately in order to manipulate the audience will be disqualified from the tournament.



Competitors are guaranteed six preliminary rounds. Rounds I through IV will be randomly assigned, while rounds V and VI will be seeded. Each round will be evaluated by two judges, each of whom will rank competitors 1st through 5th. The lowest ranking for each contestant will be dropped, and the top contestants will advance to elimination rounds. Advancement will be based on (1) best cumulative rankings (2) reciprocals.



Those contestants advancing to the first elimination round will be announced on Sunday morning. Elimination rounds will be seeded, and sectioning will not be broken to avoid placement of contestants from the same school in the same rounds. The tournament will include cross-examination in elimination rounds. Quarterfinals and semifinals will be evaluated by five judges each. The top three contestants in each section will advance to the next round.  Advancement will be based on (1) best cumulative rankings (2) judges’ preference (3) reciprocals (4) preliminary rankings. Each break is clean; no previous results will be considered except in the case of an otherwise unbreakable tie. The final round will be evaluated by seven judges and will be open to the entire tournament and the Northwestern community.



Additionally, we will be hosting impromptu as a secondary event on the second day of the tournament.

All students, including those who advance to eliminations rounds in extemp, may compete in impromptu. Students must opt into impromptu; students are not entered into impromptu by default. There is no entry fee for impromptu. However, there will be a fee for impromptu entries that are added/dropped on Sunday morning.


In impromptu, contestants will have seven minutes to both prepare and deliver a speech improvised from a provided prompt. Topics will vary by round and section, and each speaker in the same section will speak on the same topic. There will be two preliminary rounds, and the top six contestants will advance to a final round.




There are four ways to qualify for the Tournament of Champions in Extemp:


1. TOC Extemp 2018 Elimination Rounds


Any student who advanced to quarterfinals, semifinals or finals in extemporaneous speaking at the 2018 TOC Extemp is automatically qualified for this year’s tournament.


2. State Finals


Students that advance to the final round of the open division of their qualifying state tournament in extemporaneous speaking will automatically qualify for the TOC Extemp. Because many states hold their state tournament after our entry deadline, please note the following rule: “Qualifying state tournaments” are defined as (a) any 2019 state tournament prior to the TOC Extemp entry deadline or (b) any 2018 state tournament that occurred after April 8, 2018.


All tournament entry fees will be waived for any State Champions in Extemporaneous Speaking. However, in order to waive the fee, verification of the state tournament results must be included with the registration form.


3. Qualifying Tournaments


Please note the change to tournament qualifications. Many tournaments no longer create a “bid” or “leg” for simply making it to elimination rounds. Please see the list below for specific qualification levels for each tournament. Students must earn qualifications at a minimum of two of the following:


Automatic Qualifications

2018 TOC Extemp Elimination Rounds


Quarter-Final Level Bids

Berkeley (CA)

Florida Blue Key (FL)

George Mason University (VA)

Glenbrooks (IL)

Harvard (MA)

NSDA National Tournament 2018

Saint Joseph’s University- Villager (PA)

Sunvitational (FL)

Yale (CT)



Semi-Final Level Bids

CFL National Tournament 2018

Emory University (GA)

James Logan HS (CA)

Stanford University (CA)

St. Mark’s (TX)

Schwan Speech Spectacular (MN)

University of Texas- Austin (TX)


Final Level Bids

Apple Valley HS (MN)

Bradley University (IL)

Cypress Bay (FL)

Dowling (IA)

Isidore Newman (LA)

Princeton Classic (NJ)

Winston Churchill (TX)

University of Pennsylvania (PA)



Top 3 Bids

Arizona State University

California State University – Fullerton

Union Forensic Society Invitational (OK)

Chanhassen High School (MN)

Columbia University (NY)

Downers Grove South (IL)

Durham Academy (NC)

Lamar Consolidated (TX)

Nova (FL)

Ridge (NJ)

Plano West Senior HS (TX)      Saint Mary’s Hall (TX)

4. Bid Application Acceptance

Any student who does not or cannot qualify through one of the above methods may submit an at large TOC bid application. Bid applications may either be submitted by email at or be mailed to the address provided below. Bid applications will be reviewed upon acceptance, and while we will try to get responses back as soon as possible, we guarantee we will respond to all applications by April 19th, 2019.  


  1. The applicant or the applicant’s coach must submit the Bid Application.


  1. If submitting by email, bid applications must be sent to by 11:59pm, April 8th, 2019.


  1. If submitting by mail, the bid application must be postmarked by April 8th, 2019 and sent to:


Tournament of Champions

Attention: Ryan Lauth

Department of Communication Studies

Northwestern University

1815 Chicago Ave

Evanston, IL 60208




Tournament Entry/Registration

  1. Coaches may submit all school and competitor entry information via beginning March 1st, 2019, when the application goes live. The registration will be under the tournament on, where you can mark qualifying tournaments for competitors.
  2. Registration and fees may be paid by check or cash at Registration on Friday, May 3rd.


  1. Check must be made payable to “Northwestern University”
  2. Check must indicate the school and student(s) for whose application(s) the check covers. One check may be written to cover multiple applications from the same school. Do not include any other information other than payment.
  3. Checks should be for the exact amount indicated during your online registration. If there is a discrepancy or if you need to change your entry, you must send us an email at


Entry Deadlines

We encourage competitors to submit their entries as soon as they become qualified for the tournament.


  • Applications for at-large bids must be received:              April 8th, 2018
  • Entries must be received:                                              April 20th, 2018
  • At-large applicant will be notified of acceptance by:             April 19th, 2018


Entry Fees

All entry forms are available from the invitation page on our website. Once entered, fees cannot be refunded.


Extemp entry fee — Covered by judge …………………………………………………………………. $125/slot

Extemp entry fee — Not covered by judge ……………………………………………………………. $200/slot


Drop Fees and Missed Ballots

The following fees will be accessed. Schools must pay any fees in full before entry to a subsequent TOC Extemp is accepted. These fees apply to all events: extemp and impromptu.


In order to minimize the costs to you, we encourage you to contact us at as soon as you can if you will need to drop an entry. Note that drop fees will be applied to drops in impromptu as well.


If you drop…

  • After April 20th, 2018 ……………………………………………………………. Loss of entry fees plus $50/slot
  • On the day of the tournament …………………………………………………. Loss of entry fees plus $100/slot
  • Missed ballots by a school judge …………………………………………….. $100/round






Judging Commitments

All judges and coaches will be required to attend a short informational meeting on the morning of Saturday, May 4th. More details will be provided at the reception.


Each school is asked to provide one judge for every two students entered. Judges are expected to be available to judge throughout the entire tournament, even after their students are eliminated. Schools with odd numbers of competitors will not be allowed to share judges. Every judge is only allowed to cover a maximum of 2 entries.


Any uncovered slots will incur fees as described in the fee schedule above.


TOC Extemp encourages all participants to stay for the awards ceremony. If you must leave early but would still like to receive your ballots, please provide a pre-addressed and stamped envelope to tournament staff. We will be happy to mail your ballots after the tournament. Tournament staff will not release any ballots until the conclusion of the awards ceremony.


Hired Judges

The TOC Extemp encourages teams to provide their own judges. If this is not possible, competitors may still enter the tournament, but at a higher fee. This increased fee for uncovered entries will allow the TOC Extemp to hire experienced judges to complete the judging pool.


Missed Ballots

If a judge fails to pick up ballots for any given round, the associated school will be assessed a $100 missed ballot fee. Any such fees must be paid in full before the schools’ contestants are allowed to advance and before the school is allowed to enter future TOC Extemp tournaments. Due to the importance that the TOC Extemp places on judging, this rule will be strictly enforced.


VI. EXTEMP Conference


In order to further enhance the educational experience of the TOC Extemp, there will be a series of speakers on Friday, starting at 7:00pm. These speakers will make brief comments on important current affairs and offer their academic insights into specific topic areas. Please visit the competition website for more details closer to the date.




All students attending the tournament must be supervised by an adult — a parent, teacher, team coach, or coach from another school. This chaperone should have all required school and parental authorization for travel and medical leases. Neither the Tournament nor Northwestern University can assume responsibility for any emergencies or expenses.




The TOC Extemp encourages you to contact us with any questions or concerns regarding any aspect of this tournament. Our website also includes a plethora of Frequently Asked Questions that may help clarify any questions you may have.


Tournament Website:


Emma McDonnell, Student Tournament Director……………………………………  

Ryan Lauth, Faculty Tournament Director………………………………………..




Tournament Location

Northwestern University is located in Evanston, Illinois, a suburb just minutes north of Chicago on Lake Michigan. Please see the visitor’s section on Northwestern’s homepage at for additional information. Saturday’s and Sunday’s rounds will be held on campus.

Northwestern University Parking lots become free to visitors starting at 4 PM on Friday through 8 AM Monday morning, so throughout the TOC Extemp teams are welcome to park for free in campus lots.


On Friday before the Extemp Conference, in conjunction with registration, the TOC Extemp will hold an informal reception. Join your fellow competitors and coaches for some refreshments and social time before competition begins on Saturday.