Debate Steps and Tips

Steps of a Debate

  1. Thank You’s:  Thank the judge, opponent and your partner.  Remember:  “Thank you + 1”
  2. Introduce Self & Speaker position:  Say your name and what Speaker you are  (PM, MG, LO, MO).
  3. State the Topic:  Say the topic exactly as it was announced.
  4. State your Side:  “Government” or “Opposition”.  Explain what that means.  You either agree or disagree with the topic.
    *NOTE:  If you are the Government team, give your definition (Def); if you are Opposition, then this is your one chance to agree or disagree with the Government’s definition.
  5. Fact, Policy or Value:  State what type of round it is and explain to the judge what that means.
  6. Explain your Goal for the Round:  What are you going to do to win?  Remember:  Criterion (Crit) and Weighing Mechanism (WM)
  7. Begin your Arguments:For a “Fact” round prove the topic is true.  Your arguments are called your “Contentions” (Cont).For a “Value” round explain why you value (why it is good or useful) something.  In a value round you will often have to compare two things; make sure to explain why your value is “better” than the other.  If there is no second thing, explain why what you value is better than “not having it”.For a “Policy” round it is a bit more complex. Go through the following steps:
    1. Explain the problems that exist now:  “Harms”
    2. State your plan to try and fix them:  “Plan”
    3. Say why your plan works:  “Solvency”
    4. Explain that your plan is new and not already being done:  “Uniqueness”
    5. Show that your plan will actually make a real difference (Impact):  “Significance”
    6. Show good things that will come from your plan, BESIDES solving your problems:  “Advantages”
    7. Be careful that your plan does not make BIGGER problems than the ones you fix:  “Disadvantages”
  8. Repeat your Partners arguments!  Remember:  “Dead Argument”
  9. “Off-Case”:  Both teams, AFTER the first Government speech make sure to use “Off-Case” (saying why the other side is not correct).
  10. Explain Everything!
  11. “VOTERS”: On your team’s final speech, give “Voters” (Reasons for the judge to pick you).

Debate Tips

  • Use a Flow Chart!
  • Listen to your Partners & Opponents arguments.  Write them down using Short-Hand (1, 2, 3, 4 or maybe 5 words).
  • Remember to use some P.O.I.s (Points of information) during your opponent’s speech.  Make sure to be smart in taking P.O.I.s!
  • Remember this is a battle for Respect and Control.
  • Delivery does matter!
  • The quality of your arguments matters more than anything else.  Good logic, examples and IMPACTS win rounds!
  • Be respectful, speak well, use “High Level Thinking” and “Ripples” to win your debate rounds!
  • Remember to “Weigh-out” arguments (explain why yours matter more).  You don’t have to win every argument to win a debate round!
  • Again, do not forget:  IMPACTS lead to VOTERS, one of the key way to win a debate round!
  • Have fun!  Two of the most important goals of debate are: to learn skills to make the world a better place and to have fun while doing it.

Debate Preparation

  • The more you read before the tournament, the better.  Focus on local issues and major current events.
  • Watching the news and listening to informative radio, are also excellent ways to prepare.
  • Good sources are:  The NY Times, the Economist, the Washington Post, Time Magazine, BBC, PBS, NPR and KQED.  Just to name a few of the many wonderful sources available to you.
  • Practice with your partner, family, friends, classmates or by yourself!
  • Pick a topic and prepare both sides (gov/opp).
  • Pick an argument and use “Ripples” to explain why/how it matters (i.e. We need rules).
  • Pick an argument and use a “Story” to show why/how it matters (i.e. Sleep is important).
  • Practice “Short-Hand” verbally (i.e.  Research shows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, as it jump-starts your brain and gives it the needed resources to function effectively.  Breakfast = effective brain).
  • Talk with your partner and have your parents communicate with theirs, to make sure you are ready!
  • Come to the Debate Practices!