How to Start Your Speech in Debate Rounds- 3 Suggestions

How to Start Your Speech In Debate Rounds- 3 Suggestions

1. Assess Why You Are Winning, and Why You Are NOT Losing-

So many debaters start their speeches with an overview of arguments rather than an assessment of why they are winning the debate. One of my favorite techniques is one recommended by Dallas Jesuit debate coach Dan Lingel. His suggestion is to point out three mistakes the other team made. Obviously this is hard to do in the first affirmative and negative constructives- these speeches generally introduce the major arguments into the debate. Rebuttals are the best moment to use this tactic- particularly in the last two rebuttals. An example might be, instead of the 2nc saying "Extend my uniqueness evidence- the economy is strong- Extend my link- the plan eliminates fiscal discipline," a much more effective overview would be "The 2ac has no answer to our fiscal discipline evidence, which answers their 'plan saves money' argument." This overview and start to a speech integrates assuming a world where you might be wrong. What are the opponents BEST CHANCE of winning, and why are they losing those issues. "Even if I lose this argument I still win because" is one of the most important phrases a debater can ever use. Why not start there? These comparisons win debates.

2. Talk About the Stuff Your Opponents Are Not Talking About-

As a judge it's incredibly frustrating to watch debates where people only respond to what the opponent says. Too often debaters just engage in "line by line" debate and extend their arguments from previous speeches poorly. In at least half of these debates, people's overviews are the SAME ARGUMENT made on the line by line. I've come up with a simple formula that solves this dilemma. If the affirmative link turns an argument, talk about the impact in the overview. If the affirmative impact turns, talk about the link. My philosophy is simple: if the affirmative makes a bunch of offense to one of those levels, then you have to answer that section in the line by line. If the affirmative impact turns, you have to extend your impacts on the line by line. Do you time frame, magnitude, probability, and turns on the line by line. This greatly reduces redundancy and guarantees that debaters extend all parts of their arguments.

3. Answer Repeated Arguments

This suggestion is also intended to reduce repetition. If your opponent makes the same argument in a number of places, and it seems likely that they will focus on this argument in their last speech, then answer it in the overview at the start of the speech. Then, when you engage in the line by line and get to that argument, just say answered above in the overview. At most, provide a brief reference to what your argument was, but do not just keep repeating the same answer.

After an overview that includes all three elements, assessing what you are winning and losing, talking about what the opponents dropped, and answering repeated arguments, you are set up for the rest of your speech. Answer their specific argument from their speech on each particular argument you choose to extend. Hopefully, your strong opening makes comparisons that strategically demonstrate why you should win, begins the process of completely extending a position, and answers arguments efficiently to prevent redundancy.