Phil Speaks

What is PhilSpeaks?

With over three hundred years of experience, the Phil strives to bring debating beyond the confines of our college society. PhilSpeaks provides this bridge, bringing top quality debating to senior secondary school students of all backgrounds and experience levels. PhilSpeaks, kindly sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers, provides students with an opportunity to develop themselves as debaters while discovering a little of life at Trinity.

We can provide the expertise, environment and encouragement to allow students the opportunity to play around with ideas, to discuss the bigger issues, and to grow in confidence in both these ideas and their ability to articulate them. We invite all senior secondary school students to take part in the PhilSpeaks Debating Initiative.


With an emphasis on fun, confidence building and enjoyment, our events are aimed at those who may have little to no experience with debating, while also giving more experienced speakers the opportunity to develop their oratory skills and critical thinking abilities.

We run nationwide workshops in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Belfast and Galway. Our ratio of two volunteers to every 14 students allows each individual student a great deal of personal time and encouragement. In each workshop, we work with students on their public-speaking skills, allowing them to speak up on topical issues in an encouraging environment, while also having a lot of fun – helped, no doubt, by the pizza that is provided for lunch! The emphasis on student involvement means we run activities where it is the students, not the facilitators, speaking 90% of the time. By the end of the workshops students will be comfortable with their ability to deliver a speech with a short preparation time.

PhilSpeaks also runs outreach workshops with Trinity Access Programme and Trinity’s Voluntary Tuition Programmes

PhilSpeaks Pro-Am

An incredible learning experience, the Pro-Am competition is quite unique. It is a one day competition open to students all over Ireland. Each secondary school student is paired with a university debater and participates in three rounds of mace style debates with their team mate against similar constructed teams. This allows students an opportunity to improve their debating skills intensely, receiving advice and guidance from their experienced partner.

Rounds will be held in the “Mace” style with two teams of two arguing on each side of the motion. Motions for debates will be announced to all competitors fifteen minutes before the start of the debate. The most successful teams will progress to the semis and a grand final.

The competition will also provide meals to competitors.

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Competitive Weekend

An exciting, memorable and rewarding experience for students from across Ireland; the Competitive Weekend is the highlight of the PhilSpeaks calendar.

Rounds are run in the “Mace” style with two teams of two arguing on each side of the motion. Motions for debates will be announced to all competitors fifteen minutes before the start of the debate. All teams will take part in a minimum of four rounds and the most successful teams will progress to the semis and final on Saturday evening.

The Grand Final, which is watched by a large audience comprising all participants, Phil council and members, as well as teachers and parents who wish to attend, is help in the atmospheric chamber of the Graduates’ Memorial Building.

As with our workshops, the focus is on fun and confidence building. Candyfloss and popcorn are given out throughout the competition and there is a now famous bouncy castle for participants in the Chamber on the Saturday of the competition. With over 30 schools from all over the country, we run socials and ice breakers to ensure every student gets the chance to chat to as many people as possible.

The event takes place on the second last weekend of January. Registration fee for the Competitive Weekend is 30 euro per team, inclusive of all meals. There are discounted places available for DEIS schools and travel subsidies for those travelling from outside Dublin available upon request.

New to Debating?

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