How to Write a Winning Debate Speech
WHAT IS A DEBATE?
A debate is a formal discussion on a specific topic. Two sides argue for and against a specific proposal or resolution in a debate.
Debates have set conventions and rules that both sides or teams agree to abide by. A neutral moderator or judge is often appointed to help regulate the discussion between the opposing sides.
Debating is a form of persuasive communication. We have a complete guide to persuasive writing, which will form the backbone of your debating speech, which can be accessed here.
A COMPLETE UNIT ON CLASSROOM DEBATING
This unit will guide your students to write excellent DEBATE SPEECHES and craft well-researched, constructed ARGU MENTS ready for critique from their classmates.
Furthermore, this EDITABLE UNIT will provide the TOOLS and STRATEGIES for running highly engaging CLASSROOM DEBATES.
How Is a Debate Structured?
Debates occur in many different contexts, and these contexts can determine the specific structure the debate will follow.
Some contexts where debates will occur include legislative assemblies, public meetings, election campaigns, academic institutions, and TV shows.
While structures can differ, below is a basic step-by-step debate structure we can look at with our students. If students can debate to this structure, they will find adapting to other debate structures simple.
1. Choose a Topic
Also called a resolution or a motion, the topic is sometimes chosen for each side. This is usually the case in a school activity to practice debating skills.
Alternatively, as in the case of a political debate, two sides emerge naturally around contesting beliefs or values on a particular issue.
We’ll assume the debate is a school exercise for the rest of this article.
The resolution or the motion is usually centered around a true or false statement or a proposal to make some change in the current state of affairs. Often the motion will start, ”This House believes that….”
2. Form Two Teams
Two teams of three speakers each are formed. These are referred to as ‘The House for the Motion’ or the ‘Affirmative’ team and ‘The House Against the Motion’ or the ‘Negative’ team.
Preparation is an essential aspect of debating. The speech and debate team members will need time to research their arguments, collaborate, and organize themselves and their respective roles in the upcoming debate.
They’ll also need time to write and rehearse their speeches too. The better prepared and coordinated they are as a team, the more chance they have of success in the debate.
Each speaker takes a turn making their speech, alternating between the House for the Motion, who goes first, and the House Against the Motion. Each speaker speaks for a pre-agreed amount of time.
The debate is held in front of an audience (in this case, the class), and sometimes, the audience is given time to ask questions after all the speeches have been made.
Finally, the debate is judged either by moderators or by an audience vote.
The teams’ aim in a debate should be to convince a neutral third party that they hold the stronger position.
How to Write a Debate Speech
In some speech contest formats, students are only given the debate topic on the day, and limited time is allowed for preparation. Outside of this context, the speech writing process always begins with research.
Thorough research will help provide the student with both the arguments and the supporting evidence for those arguments.
Knowing how to research well is a skill that is too complex to cover in detail here. Fortunately, this site also has a detailed article on Top Research Strategies to help.
There are slight variations in the structure of debate speeches depending on when the speech is scheduled in the debate order. But, the structure and strategies outlined below are broadly applicable and will help students write and deliver persuasive debate speeches.
The Debate Introduction
As with many types of text , the purpose of the introduction in a debate speech is to do several things: grab the attention of the audience, introduce the topic, provide a thesis statement, and preview some of the main arguments.
1. The Attention Grabber
Securing the attention of the audience is crucial. Failure to do this will have a strong, negative impact on how the team’s efforts will be scored as a whole.
There are several tried and tested methods of doing this. Three of the main attention grabbers that work well are:
a.) Quotation From a Well-Known Person
Using a quotation from a well-known person is a great way to draw eyeballs and ears in the speaker’s direction. People love celebrities, even if that celebrity is relatively minor.
Quotes from reputable individuals add credibility and authority to your arguments, as they demonstrate that influential figures endorse your viewpoint. They provide a concise and impactful way to convey complex ideas or express a widely accepted perspective. Quotations can resonate with the audience, evoke emotions, and make your speech more memorable. By referencing respected individuals, you tap into their expertise and reputation, lending support to your position and increasing the persuasive impact of your debate speech.
Using a quotation to open a speech lends authority to what is being said. As well as that, usually, the quotation chosen will be worded concisely and interestingly, making it all the more memorable and impactful for the audience.
Numbers can be very convincing. There’s just something about quantifiable things that persuades people. Perhaps it’s because numbers help us to pin down abstract ideas and arguments.
By using numbers, facts, and figures, students can present objective evidence that reinforces the validity of their arguments. Additionally, statistics enhance critical thinking skills by promoting data analysis and interpretation. For teachers, encouraging students to utilize statistics fosters research skills, data literacy, and an understanding of the importance of evidence-based reasoning.
The challenge here is for the speaker to successfully extract meaning from the data in such a way as to bolster the force of their argument.
c.) The Anecdote
Anecdotes can be a valuable way to ease the audience into a complex topic. Anecdotes are essentially stories and can be used to make complicated moral or ethical dilemmas more relatable for an audience.
Anecdotes are also an effective way for the speaker to build a rapport with the audience, which, in turn, makes the task of persuading them an easier one.
2. Introduce the Topic
Once the audience’s attention has been firmly grasped, it’s time to introduce the topic or the motion. This should be done in a very straightforward and transparent manner to ensure the audience understands the topic of the debate.
For example, if the topic of the debate was school uniforms, the topic may be introduced with:
“Today, we will debate whether school uniforms should be compulsory for all high school students.”
3. Provide the Thesis Statement
The thesis statement should express the student’s or the team’s position on the motion. That is, the thesis statement explains the speaker’s side of the debate.
A thesis statement is a succinct declaration that encapsulates the main point or argument of an essay, research paper, or other written work. It presents a clear and specific stance on a topic, guiding the reader on what to expect in the subsequent content. A well-crafted thesis statement should be debatable, meaning there should be room for opposing viewpoints and discussion. It serves as a roadmap for the writer, ensuring coherence and focus throughout the piece, and helps the reader understand the purpose and direction of the work from the outset.
This statement can come directly after introducing the topic, for example:
“Today, we will debate whether school uniforms should be compulsory for all high school students. This house believes (or, I believe …) that school uniforms should not be compulsory for high school students.”
4. Preview the Arguments
The final part of the introduction section of a debate speech involves previewing the main points of the speech for the audience.
There is no need to go into detail with each argument here; that’s what the body of the speech is for. It is enough to provide a general thesis statement for each argument or ‘claims’ – (more on this to follow).
Previewing the arguments in a speech is especially important as the audience and judges only get one listen to a speech – unlike a text which can be reread as frequently as the reader likes.
Examples of strong opening statements for a debate
After explaining the different types of attention grabbers and the format for the rest of the introduction to your students, challenge them to write an example of each type of opening for a specific debate topic.
When they’ve finished writing these speech openings, discuss with the students which of these openings works best with their chosen topic. They can then continue by completing the rest of the introduction for their speech using the format as described above.
Some suggested debate topics you might like to use with your class include:
- Homework should be banned
- National public service should be mandatory for every citizen
- The sale of human organs should be legalized
- Artificial intelligence is a threat to humanity
- Bottled water should be banned.
The Body of the Speech
The body paragraphs are the real meat of the speech. They contain the in-depth arguments that make up the substance of the debate.
How well these arguments are made will determine how the judges will assess each speaker’s performance, so it’s essential to get the structure of these arguments just right.
Let’s take a look at how to do that.
The Structure of an Argument
With the introduction out of the way, it’s time for the student to get down to the nitty-gritty of the debate – that is, making compelling arguments to support their case.
There are three main aspects to an argument in a debate speech. They are:
1. The Claim
2. The Warrant
3. The Impact
The first part of an argument is referred to as the claim. This is the assertion that the argument is attempting to prove.
The warrant is the evidence or reasoning used to verify or support that claim.
Finally, the impact describes why the claim is significant. It’s the part of the argument that deals with why it matters in the first place and what further conclusions we can draw from the fact that the claim is true.
Following this structure carefully enables our students to build coherent and robust arguments.
Present your students with a topic and, as a class, brainstorm some arguments for and against the motion.
Then, ask students to choose one argument and, using the Claim-Warrant-Impact format, take a few moments to write down a well-structured argument that’s up to debate standard.
Students can then present their arguments to the class.
Or, you could also divide the class along pro/con lines and host a mini-debate!
This speech section provides the speaker with one last opportunity to deliver their message.
In a timed formal debate, the conclusion also allows the speaker to show the judges that they can speak within the set time while still covering all their material.
As with conclusions in general, the conclusion of a debate speech provides an opportunity to refer back to the introduction and restate the central position.
At this point, it can be a good idea to summarize the arguments before ending with a powerful image that leaves a lasting impression on the audience and judges.
The Burden of the Rejoinder
In formal debates, the burden of the rejoinder means that any time an opponent makes a point for their side, it’s incumbent upon the student/team to address that point directly.
Failing to do so will automatically be seen as accepting the truth of the point made by the opponent.
For example, if the opposing side argues that all grass is pink, despite how ridiculous that statement is, failing to refute that point directly means that, for the debate, all grass is pink.
Our students must understand the burden of the rejoinder and ensure that any points the opposing team makes are fully addressed during the debate.
Examples of a strong debate Conclusion
When preparing to write their speech, students should spend a significant proportion of their team collaborating as a team.
One good way to practice the burden of the rejoinder concept is to use the concept of Devil’s Advocate, whereby one team member acts as a member of the opposing team, posing arguments from the other side for the speaker to counter, sharpening up their refutation skills in the process.
20 Great Debating Topics for Students
- Should cell phones be allowed in schools?
- Is climate change primarily caused by human activities?
- Should the voting age be lowered to 16?
- Is social media more harmful than beneficial to society?
- Should genetically modified organisms (GMOs) be embraced or rejected?
- Is the death penalty an effective crime deterrent?
- Should schools implement mandatory drug testing for students?
- Is animal testing necessary for scientific and medical advancements?
- Should school uniforms be mandatory?
- Is censorship justified in certain circumstances?
- Should the use of performance-enhancing drugs be allowed in sports?
- Is homeschooling more beneficial than traditional schooling?
- Should the use of plastic bags be banned?
- Is nuclear energy a viable solution to the world’s energy needs?
- Should the government regulate the fast food industry?
- Is social inequality a result of systemic factors or individual choices?
- Should the consumption of meat be reduced for environmental reasons?
- Is online learning more effective than traditional classroom learning?
- Should the use of drones in warfare be banned?
- Is the legalization of marijuana beneficial for society?
These topics cover a range of subjects and offer students the opportunity to engage in thought-provoking debates on relevant and impactful issues.
OTHER GREAT ARTICLES RELATED TO DEBATING
The Ultimate Guide to Opinion Writing for Students and Teachers
Top 5 Persuasive Writing Techniques for Students
5 Top Persuasive Writing Lesson Plans for Students and Teachers
23 Persuasive writing Topics for High School students
How to Write Perfect Persuasive Essays in 5 Simple Steps
Debate: the keys to victory.
Research and preparation are essential to ensure good performance in a debate. Students should spend as much time as possible drafting and redrafting their speeches to maximize their chances of winning. However, a debate is a dynamic activity, and victory cannot be assured by pre-writing alone.
Students must understand that the key to securing victory lies in also being able to think, write (often in the form of notes), and respond instantly amid the turmoil of the verbal battle. To do this, students must understand the following keys to victory.
When we think of winning a debate, we often think of blinding the enemy with the brilliance of our verbal eloquence. We think of impressing the audience and the judges alike with our outstanding oratory.
What we don’t often picture when we imagine what a debate winner looks like is a quiet figure sitting and listening intently. But being a good listener is one of our students’ most critical debating skills.
If students don’t listen to the other side, whether by researching opposing arguments or during the thrust of the actual debate, they won’t know the arguments the other side is making. Without this knowledge, they cannot effectively refute the opposition’s claims.
Read the Audience
In terms of the writing that happens before the debate takes place, this means knowing your audience.
Students should learn that how they present their arguments may change according to the demographics of the audience and/or judges to whom they will be making their speech.
An audience of retired school teachers and an audience of teen students may have very different responses to the same arguments.
This applies during the actual debate itself too. If the student making their speech reads resistance in the faces of the listeners, they should be prepared to adapt their approach accordingly in mid-speech.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The student must practice their speech before the debate. There’s no need to learn it entirely by heart. There isn’t usually an expectation to memorize a speech entirely, and doing so can lead to the speaker losing some of their spontaneity and power in their delivery. At the same time, students shouldn’t spend the whole speech bent over a sheet of paper reading word by word.
Ideally, students should familiarize themselves with the content and be prepared to deliver their speech using flashcards as prompts when necessary.
Another important element for students to focus on when practising their speech is making their body language, facial expressions, and hand gestures coherent with the verbal content of their speech. One excellent way to achieve this is for the student to practice delivering their speech in a mirror.
Debating is a lot of fun to teach and partake in, but it also offers students a valuable opportunity to pick up some powerful life skills.
It helps students develop a knack for distinguishing fact from opinion and an ability to assess whether a source is credible or not. It also helps to encourage them to think about the other side of the argument.
Debating helps our students understand others, even when disagreeing with them. An important skill in these challenging times, without a doubt.
5 Tips for Teachers looking to run a successful classroom debate
- Clearly Define Debate Roles and Structure when running speech and debate events: Clearly define the roles of speakers, timekeepers, moderators, and audience members. Establish a structured format with specific time limits for speeches, rebuttals, and audience participation. This ensures a well-organized and engaging debate.
- Provide Topic Selection and Preparation Time: Offer students a range of debate topics, allowing them to select a subject they are passionate about. Allocate ample time for research and preparation, encouraging students to gather evidence, develop strong arguments, and anticipate counterarguments.
- Incorporate Scaffolded Debating Skills Practice: Before the actual debate, engage students in scaffolded activities that build their debating skills. This can include small group discussions, mock debates, or persuasive writing exercises. Provide feedback and guidance to help students refine their arguments and delivery.
- Encourage Active Listening and Note-taking during speech and debate competitions: Emphasize the importance of active listening during the debate. Encourage students to take notes on key points, supporting evidence, and persuasive techniques used by speakers. This cultivates critical thinking skills and prepares them for thoughtful responses during rebuttals.
- Facilitate Post-Debate Reflection and Discussion: After the debate, facilitate a reflection session where students can share their thoughts, lessons learned, and insights gained. Encourage them to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of their arguments and engage in constructive dialogue. This promotes metacognitive skills and encourages continuous improvement.
By following these tips, teachers can create a vibrant and educational debate experience for their students. Through structured preparation, active engagement, and reflective discussions, students develop valuable literacy and critical thinking skills that extend beyond the boundaries of the debate itself.
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The content for this page has been written by Shane Mac Donnchaidh. A former principal of an international school and English university lecturer with 15 years of teaching and administration experience. Shane’s latest Book, The Complete Guide to Nonfiction Writing , can be found here. Editing and support for this article have been provided by the literacyideas team.
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How to Write a Debate Speech
Last Updated: May 24, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Patrick Muñoz . Patrick is an internationally recognized Voice & Speech Coach, focusing on public speaking, vocal power, accent and dialects, accent reduction, voiceover, acting and speech therapy. He has worked with clients such as Penelope Cruz, Eva Longoria, and Roselyn Sanchez. He was voted LA's Favorite Voice and Dialect Coach by BACKSTAGE, is the voice and speech coach for Disney and Turner Classic Movies, and is a member of Voice and Speech Trainers Association. There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 1,445,092 times.
So, you've joined debate, and it's time to write a debate speech. There are some tried and true methods to writing an effective debate speech. If you understand them, and the components that make up a standard debate speech, you will increase your chances of success.
Preparing for the Debate Speech
- You may be asked to stand affirmative or negative. In LD (Lincoln-Douglas debate), the first affirmative speech will be at most 7 minutes long, and the first negative speech will be at most 6 minutes.  X Research source
- The speakers then present arguments against the earlier affirmative or negative speech that was just read. Speakers must listen carefully and be able to counter arguments. There are two segments involving cross-examination (CX), in which the debaters are allowed to ask questions and openly debate the topic. This is most often called cross-examination, or cx for short, and occurs after the first affirmative speech, and the first negative speech.
- The best thing you can do to better understand LD/PF/Policy debate is practice and research.
- Brainstorm the topic, and research it before you sit down to write. Write out a list of key components for both sides of the issue. If you are on a debate team, do this together. Each member could discuss the key component list, in order to figure out which issues you want to cover in each speech.
- Spend some time at the library or on the Internet using credible sources to research the key reasons that seem strongest. Use books, scholarly journals, credible newspapers, and the like. Be very cautious about unverified information bandied about on the Internet.
- You will also want prepare to deal with the strongest arguments your opponent(s) might make. Ignoring the other side’s best arguments can weaken your rhetorical appeal.
- A basic debate outline should contain six parts: An attention-getter, your stated stance (aff or neg)/ restatement of the resolution, your definitions, your value, criterion, and contentions.
- You can break each of those six parts into subcategories. It’s often a good idea to write the contentions last, focusing on the value and criterion to hold it up first.  X Research source
Writing the Debate Speech
- You should address the jury or audience with formal salutations. For example, you could say something like, “Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.” Debates are very formal in tone.
- Making a good first impression with the judges is very important. This leads judges to assume the debater is persuasive. One technique to write a strong introduction is to contextualize the topic, especially in relation to real world events.  X Trustworthy Source American Bar Association Leading professional organization of lawyers and law students Go to source
- Introductions can also focus on prominent examples, quotations, or on a personal anecdote that can help establish a rapport with the audience and judges. Be careful using humor; it involves risks and can lead to awkward silences if not done right. Find a relevant specific that illustrates the underlying point.
- Don’t muddle your position. It needs to be extremely clear whether you affirm or negate the resolution, so don’t hem and haw and contradict yourself. The audience also should not have to wait until the end to find out. Make your stance very clear, and do it early on
- For example, you could say, “my partner and I firmly negate (or affirm) the resolution which states that unilateral military force by the United States is justified to prevent nuclear proliferation.”  X Research source
- A good rule of thumb is to back up your position with 3-4 strong points of supporting argumentation. You definitely need to have more than 1 or 2 key points to back up the stance you have taken.
- The body of the speech – the key points and their development – should be, by far, the longest part of the debate speech (perhaps 3 ½ minutes to 30 seconds for an opening and for a conclusion, depending on the rules of the debate you are doing).
- Focus on the causes of the problem, the effects of the problem, expert opinion, examples, statistics, and present a solution. Try to use visual images, not just generic terms – show don’t tell, and illustrate a point with details.
- Appeal to the motives and emotions of the listener with a light touch. Appeal to their sense of fair play, desire to save, to be helpful, to care about community, etc. Ground examples in how people are affected.
- Try using rhetorical questions, which make your opponents consider the validity of their point; irony, which undermines their point and makes you seem more mature and intelligent; simile, which gives them something to relate to; humor, which gets the audience on your side when done well; and repetition, which reinforces your point.
- Aristotle believed that speakers were more persuasive if they combined elements of logos (persuasion by reasoning) with pathos (having an element of emotional appeal) and ethos (an appeal based on the character of the speaker) - for example, that they seem intelligent or of good will.
- There are two ways to use logic – inductive (which makes the case with measurable evidence like statistics or a specific anecdote or example) and deductive (which makes the case by outlining a general principle that is related to the specific topic to infer a conclusion from it - as in, I oppose all wars except those involving imminent self defense; thus, I must oppose this one because it's a war that was not in imminent self defense, and here's why). Or the reverse.
- You should use pathos sparingly. Emotional appeal on its own can be dangerous. Logos - the appeal to reason - should be at the core. However, logical appeal without any pathos at all can render a speech dry and dull. Consider what you are trying to make your audience feel. Explaining how a topic affects real people is one way to use pathos well.
Concluding the Debate Speech
- One strong way to conclude a debate speech is to bookend the conclusion with the opening, by referring back to the introduction and tying the conclusion into the same theme.
- Quotations can be a good way to end a speech. You can also end with a brief summation of the key arguments of the speech to ensure they remain fresh in judges’ minds.
- Use a clear, loud voice, and be careful to watch pacing. You don’t want to speak too loud or too slowly. Remember that confidence goes a long way toward persuasion.
Video . By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube.
- Never add new points in your speech because you still have time, as you might not present it in the best way. When you are nervous, you might even say an argument in favor of the other side and you don't want that. Thanks Helpful 28 Not Helpful 2
- Don't use all your points in your debate- in an actual debate, it is sometimes useful to have other information to cite if the argument starts going their way Thanks Helpful 27 Not Helpful 2
- Never degrade your topic. Thanks Helpful 29 Not Helpful 3
- Remember, just because you can write a debate speech, it doesn't mean you can say a debate speech effectively. Practice! Thanks Helpful 21 Not Helpful 5
You Might Also Like
- ↑ http://www.learndebating.com/english/DEBATING.pdf
- ↑ https://guides.lib.uw.edu/research/faq/reliable
- ↑ Patrick Muñoz. Voice & Speech Coach. Expert Interview. 12 November 2019.
- ↑ https://www.hamilton.edu/academics/centers/oralcommunication/guides/how-to-outline-a-speech
- ↑ https://www.edb.gov.hk/attachment/en/curriculum-development/resource-support/net/networking_debate_part%202.pdf
- ↑ https://www.americanbar.org/groups/litigation/committees/trial-practice/practice/2015/5-tips-for-engaging-opening-statements/
- ↑ http://www.oxfordsd.org/Page/5582
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/argument/
- ↑ https://www.comm.pitt.edu/persuasive-speaking
- ↑ https://www.comm.pitt.edu/speech-anxiety
About This Article
To write a debate speech, start by researching the topic thoroughly with credible and scholarly sources, and make an outline of your argument including an introduction, thesis argument, key points, and conclusion. Write the thesis argument and develop 3-4 strong points of argumentation. Be sure to clearly state your stance, and utilize expert opinions, statistics, and examples to support your opinion. To finish the speech, write an interesting introduction that incorporates your thesis and a brief conclusion that summarizes your main points. If you want to learn more, such as how to make your debate speech persuasive, keep reading the article! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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A Comprehensive Guide to Preparing and Delivering A Debate Speech
Published on: Mar 9, 2022
Last updated on: Jul 21, 2023
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Whether you are a student, a policymaker, or a business leader, the ability to debate effectively can be a game-changer.
Debate speeches are important for anyone wanting to persuade others. However, writing and delivering a debate speech isn’t easy, especially if you are new to the process.
This guide explains simple steps on how to write and deliver an excellent debate speech. It covers everything from preparing your arguments to delivering your speech with confidence and conviction.
So dive in to learn!
On This Page On This Page
What is a Debate Speech?
A debate speech is a structured argument on a specific topic that is presented in a formal setting.
The main purpose of debate speech is to:
- Express your point of view persuasively and effectively
- Convince the opposition that you are right.
- Change the peopleâs point of view on a particular topic.
In a debate speech, the speaker presents their argument in a clear, concise, and convincing manner. Debate speeches have a set time limit, and the speaker must use their time effectively to make their case and address counterarguments.
Preparing for a Debate Speech
You can only win your debate if you have spent time preparing it well. Follow the steps below to be prepared for your next debate speech.
Understanding the Debate Format
It's essential to understand the format of the debate in which you want to participate. Different debate formats have specific rules and guidelines that you need to follow to succeed.
Some popular types of debates include parliamentary, Lincoln-Douglas, and policy debates.
- Parliamentary debate is a format where two teams of two or three members argue for or against a motion. It is presided over by a moderator. In this format, debaters have limited preparation time to gather information and construct their arguments.
- Lincoln-Douglas debate is a one-on-one debate where debaters argue for their positions on a specific topic. This format usually involves a value system and a criterion that the debaters must uphold and defend.
- Policy debate is a format where two teams of two members argue for or against a specific policy proposal. This format requires in-depth research and analysis of the policy and its potential implications.
Selecting a Position
Choose a topic that you are passionate about and that you feel strongly about. Once you have chosen a topic, narrow it down to a specific aspect that you can argue for or against.
The clearer your position, the easier it will be to research and prepare your arguments.
Need some good debate topic ideas to get started? Check out our list of interesting and engaging debate topics to help you out!
Researching and Gathering Information
Once you have selected your topic, research it thoroughly. Gather as much information as you can from credible sources such as academic journals, news articles, and government reports.
Take detailed notes, and make sure to record the sources you use so that you can reference them later.
Understanding Both Sides of the Argument
To write a persuasive debate speech, it is important to understand both sides of the argument.
Consider the arguments that your opponents might make and anticipate counterarguments. This will help you to strengthen your own arguments and address potential weaknesses in your position.
Organizing Your Arguments
Once you have gathered all of the information you need, organize your arguments in a clear and logical way.
Start by outlining the main points you want to make and then add supporting evidence to each point. Make sure that your arguments flow logically and build on each other.
Practicing Your Delivery
Finally, practice your delivery. Read your speech out loud several times to get a feel for how it flows.
Time yourself to make sure that you can fit all of your arguments into the allotted time. Consider practicing in front of a friend or family member to get feedback on your delivery.
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How to Present a Debate Speech?
This type of speech requires some essential components. Here are the major components you need to present an effective debate speech.
1. Catchy Introduction
The first important step is starting the debate with a compelling introduction. You can begin with a question, a quote, or a statistic related to the topic.
Moreover, your introduction should state your stance on the topic and provides a preview of your arguments.
2. State the Problem & Define Key Terms
Define key terms in your speech that are important to your argument. This helps to ensure that your audience understands the meaning of the words you use.
3. Present Your Arguments
Present your arguments in a clear and logical order. Start with your strongest argument and provide evidence to support it. Then, move on to the weaker arguments and provide evidence for each one.
A good argument often follows the PEE structure, which means âPoint, Evidence, Explanation (PEE)â.
- Point or Reason: This is where you state your main idea or argument, providing a concise and clear statement of your position. The point should be specific, focused, and relevant to the topic at hand. It serves as the foundation for your argument
- Evidence: Here, you provide supporting evidence to bolster your argument. This can take the form of examples, statistics, or any other relevant information that helps illustrate your point.
- Explanation: In this part, you elaborate on how the evidence you provided supports your point. This is where you explain the relationship between your point and the evidence, highlighting its significance
Address counterarguments by acknowledging the opposing viewpoints and refuting them with evidence. This is called a rebuttal.
It shows that you have considered both sides of the argument and strengthens your own position. Addressing counterarguments through rebuttals is a vital aspect of constructing a well-rounded and persuasive argument.
Rebuttals involve presenting evidence that challenges the opposing counter-arguments and weakens their validity. Additionally, it is crucial to explain the flaws or fallacies in the opposing arguments during the process of rebuttal.
End your speech with a strong conclusion that summarizes your arguments and restates your stance on the topic. You can also end with a call to action, encouraging your audience to take action based on your argument.
Tips for Presenting a Debate Speech Effectively
The above steps will help you prepare and present an acceptable speech, but you can improve it even more with the tips below.
- Use Clear and Concise Language
Speak clearly and use language that is easy to understand. Avoid using jargon or complex words that might confuse your audience.
- Emphasize Key Points
Highlight the key points of your argument by using vocal inflection and tone. Emphasize important words or phrases to help your audience remember your key arguments.
- Use Body Language and Gestures
Body language and gestures can help to reinforce your arguments and make your speech more engaging. Use hand gestures to emphasize key points, and vary your posture and movement to keep your audience interested.
- Maintain Eye Contact
Maintain eye contact with your audience throughout your speech. This will help to establish a connection with them and make them feel more engaged with your argument.
- Use Vocal Variety and Tone
Vary your vocal tone and pace to add interest and emphasis to your speech. Use pauses and changes in pace to emphasize important points, and vary your volume to make your arguments more impactful.
- Use the Debate Speech Checklist
Here is a checklist that can help you evaluate your debate.
- Does your speech cover your opinion about the topic?
- Does your speech start with a catchy hook?
- Does your speech cover all the main points?
- Does your speech provide sufficient counterarguments?
- Does your speech contain enough evidence?
- Does your speech provide a call to action to the conclusion?
Debate Speech Examples
Here are some examples to help you prepare and present your debate speech better.
Debate Speech Structure
Debate Speech Template
Debate Speech Sample
Writing and delivering a successful debate speech requires careful planning, research, and effective communication skills.
By following the steps and tips provided above, you can persuade your audience effectively and make a lasting impact. Remember to practice, rehearse, and be confident in your abilities.
Still need expert help in writing your speech? Weâve got you covered!
CollegeEssay.org is here to assist you. We are an expert speech writing service with a team of experienced professionals.
Our AI essay writing tools can help you at every step of the speech-writing process, from selecting a topic to gathering evidence.
We provide customized, high-quality writing services at an affordable price. You can also take advantage from our AI essay writer tool to improve your writing skills.
So why wait? Contact our online writing service and impress your audience with an amazing speech!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the 4 types of debate.
The four main types of debate are:
- Parliamentary Debate
- Lincoln-Douglas Debate
- Cross-Examination Debate
- Academic Debate
What are the 2 sides of a debate called?
The opposition and proposition are the two sides of a debate.
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Debate Speech - Ultimate Writing Guide for Students
19 min read
Published on: Jan 25, 2019
Last updated on: Dec 18, 2022
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A debate speech is a structured argument about a particular topic. It is conducted according to the set of rules designed to give each team a fair chance. Therefore, following a proper structure in debate writing is essential for the debater and the audience.
Similarly, there are also some other methods to write an effective debate. By understanding them, you will increase the chances of your success. Moreover, setting a tone and correct word choice is also essential to grab the audience’s and judges’ attention.
We have drafted this detailed guide to help students with their debate speeches. Continue reading to get an idea about the complete format and template.
Debate Speech Definition
A debate speech is a formal discussion on a particular topic between two opposing sides. One side speaks in favor of the given topic, while the other one speaks against it. The main aim of a debate speech is to convince the audience that your opinion is right.
Also, the two main factors that determine the definition of a debate speech are:
- Context - It identifies the happenings in the area related to the topic.
- Spirit of the Motion - It tells how your debate is going to be.
It involves three basic elements given below.
- Logical consistency
- Factual accuracy
- Emotional appeal
Similarly, debate speech allows us to think about different perspectives and improves public speaking skills. It can further make you learn the basics of creating a persuasive argument.
Debate Speech Format
A debate speech format follows the below pattern.
Opening Statements and Clarification
This section includes the opening sentences by using three arguments along with clarifying questions.
- Pro Team - 5 minutes
- Con Team - 2 minutes
- Con Team - 5 minutes
- Pro Team - 2 minutes
Rebuttals (No New Arguments)
Here, the debaters repeat the opponent’s arguments and analyze what is wrong with his position.
- Pro Team - 3 minutes
- Con Team - 3 minutes
It allows the debaters to summarize their positions after detailed arguments with the opponents. Moreover, they will also explain why their position is the best.
Lastly, each team will be expected to answer the questions in a 20-minute long session.
Have a look at the below document to get an idea of the debate speech structure.
Debate Writing Speech Template
How to Start a Debate Speech?
Starting your debate in the right way will make your audience more interested. Thus, take enough time to prepare a solid opening that will help you win the debate.
Follow the below prewriting steps to start a debate speech.
Below given is a detailed description of these steps.
Begin with an Impressive Greeting
The first and foremost step is to start your debate speech with an amazing greeting. It is much more than a simple introduction of a topic and gives an idea of the main argument.
Similarly, it also alerts the audience on whether the debate speech is going to be interesting or not. Remember, a compelling greeting will help you gain maximum attention from the listeners.
An example of the greeting is stated below.
“A very cheerful good morning to all. Honorable juries/adjudicators, respected teachers, and my fellow competitors. Today I would like to light my views supporting (if you are in favor) /opposing (if you are against) the motion/topic (say your topic).”
Tell a Personal Story
You can also tell a personal story from your experiences. It will help you connect with the audience emotionally. Moreover, being authentic and genuine will also make your debate stand out.
“When I was a child growing up in rural England, I came to accept how clean and unpolluted it was. It was when I moved to the city where I enrolled in a University. Little did I realize that air pollution and excessive waste was a big problem…”
State an Amazing Fact
Stating the facts and statistical data will also grab the audience’s attention. Similarly, it can also improve your position by strengthening the arguments.
“The economy does not work for everyone. The average person in the UK only has 12 weeks’ worth of their income saved in the bank…”
Use a Powerful Quotation
You can also summarize a topic or idea by using the words of other people. It is a great way to add weight and reputation to your argument.
“Over the last 20 years, the number of people who are keenly changing their diet is steadily on the rise. Ellen DeGeneres notably became a vegan, as she said in her own words after seeing “footage of what goes on in the slaughterhouses and on the dairy farm.” The notion that eating meat is becoming less important…”
Ask a Rhetorical Question
Starting a debate speech with a question will engage people and make them think in a specific mind frame.
“Have you ever wondered how important the ocean is in our lives? The oceans provide half the oxygen we breathe and feed more than 2 billion people each day…”
State a Problem
A debater can give a clear picture of the main argument by stating a problem.
“The internet is a danger to society. It’s clear that our global civilization is coming of age. We are communicating faster, doing business quicker, and learning volumes.
Even the trade in black market goods and services is not diminishing. What we choose to do with the internet can change the world.”
Share Your Opinion About the Topic
Lastly, a debater must share his opinion on the topic while starting a debate speech. It will help the audience to comprehend the side we are going to argue about.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to talk to you today about exams. The exam system that we have followed is the British system has been reformed many times. A big exam at the age of eleven determined a child’s whole future.
Here, I will argue that the problem is that exams, besides being stressful, are ineffective in assessing student learning.”
Refer to the example to learn more about how to start a debate speech 1st speaker.
Debate Speech Example for 1st Speaker
How to Write a Debate Speech?
Follow the steps given below to write a debate speech.
Understand the Debate Speech
Understanding the debate speech and its nature is the first step in the writing process. Here, both the opposing teams will be given a topic. Choose the stance, either affirmative or negative, to the resolution.
Sometimes you will be given a stance, and other times you will be asked to take a position. Also, select the types of debate that you want to pursue. It can be a team policy debate, cross-examination, or parliamentary debating.
Research the Topic Thoroughly
The next step is to brainstorm and research the topic thoroughly. It will help you understand all the aspects of the resolution to write a perfect speech.
Make a list of the key points on both sides of the topic. Try to cover each in your debate speech. However, make sure to use credible sources such as newspapers, books, and scholarly journals.
Also, do not ignore the counter-arguments as they can weaken your debate.
Develop a Debate Speech Outline
Develop an outline for your debate speech to organize your main ideas. A basic speech outline consists of three main sections, i.e., introduction, body, and conclusion.
A detailed explanation of these sections is given below.
Debate Speech Introduction: It is the first section of a debate outline. Below are the four main parts that must be included in a debate speech introduction.
- An Attention Grabber: It is an interesting first sentence to grab the audience’s attention. Examples may contain a fact, quote, question, or story.
- Open the Debate: Open your debate by introducing a topic and make a clear statement to identify your position. It can be in favor of or against the issue under discussion. Here, the debaters should also define and explain difficult debate terms that the audience needs to understand.
- Present the Context: Present the context of your debate speech with the help of a thesis statement . It will clearly explain your position on the topic and which side you are supporting. Furthermore, you can also discuss any real-life experiences that can relate to the topic.
- Provide an Overview of Your Arguments: Briefly state your arguments to help the audience understand the direction of your speech. However, do not explain the arguments in this section. Also, use transitions so that the major argument does not merge in the middle of a speech.
The example of a debate speech introduction is given below.
Debate Speech Body Paragraphs
The body paragraphs are the main section of your debate speech. Here the judges will take notes of your significant arguments to compare them with the opponents at the end.
Each paragraph must include a statement to discuss the ideas that you want to make. Also, add a reason to support your thesis and explain more about the argument. However, do not forget to add evidence from credible sources to strengthen your argument.
Finally, explain the significance of your argument. It should discuss why the argument is important to the debaters and the judges. Moreover, it must also provide logical reasoning for the audience to choose your side.
Below is an example of a debate speech body paragraph.
Debate Speech Conclusion
The conclusion of your debate speech is the last chance to demonstrate the major arguments. It includes an attention-grabbing sentence and a thesis statement that connects the entire speech. Also, summarize the main body by adding emotion and drama to our words.
It is good to conclude your speech & debate with a message or quote that clarifies your position and arguments to the judges. Finally, add a closing sentence similar to the attention grabber to leave a lasting impression on the audience.
The following is an example of a good debate speech conclusion.
Structure for Debate Speech
Writing the Debate Speech
After deciding on the outline format, start writing the final draft of your debate. It is better to combine the elements of persuasion to explain the effects of the topic in real life. These are:
- Logos (persuasion by reasoning)
- Pathos (emotional appeal)
- Ethos (appeal based on the character of a speaker)
Furthermore, use transition words to maintain a logical flow between arguments. Never make the mistake of copying information from any other source. It is the best tip to avoid plagiarism.
Lastly, edit and proofread your work to identify any common errors. It may include grammatical, punctuation, and spelling mistakes.
You can also hire a professional proofreader or ask your friends or colleagues to proofread it. This is how you will be able to produce an amazing debate speech.
How to End a Debate Speech?
It is better to end your debate speech by identifying whether you have incorporated all the elements. Here is a checklist for you to access your speech with the help of the following questions.
- Does your debate speech begin with an impressive greeting?
- Have you written the original content in your debate essay?
- Have you provided personal experiences and a call to action to impress the judges?
- Do your speech and debate follow a proper format structure?
- Have you stated your opinion about the topic?
- Does it specify the correct types of debate that you want to pursue?
- Have you referred to a well-known book or movie?
- Do your arguments follow a restricted time limit?
- Have you proofread and revise your speech for punctuation, spelling, and grammar mistakes?
- Have you used an impressive sentence structure?
- Have you maintained consistency and logical flow between the arguments?
Follow these debating techniques to write a perfect one in no time. Check the example for a detailed understanding of the concept.
Examples to End a Debate Speech
Debate Speech Examples
The following are some debate speech samples and examples for you to get a better idea.
Sample for Debate Speech
Example for Debate Speech
Debate Speech Text Example
Debate Speech Example - Second Speaker
Debate Speech Example - Last Speaker
Get more debate examples by going through our blog.
Debate Speech Topics
Here are some unique topic ideas for you to write a debate on.
- Credit cards are more harmful than debit cards.
- We are becoming too dependent on technology.
- Marriage is an outdated concept.
- Homework is necessary with regard to the learning process.
- Being a college graduate in the United States is necessary for a successful career.
- It is a good idea to have laptops in classrooms.
- Facebook is a better social platform than Twitter.
- Cell phones can be used as educational tools.
- Junk food must be banned in high schools and colleges.
- The Prime minister of any state enjoys more power than the president.
If you are looking for more ideas, here is a list of interesting debate topics .
The Key to Winning a Debate
To do well in a debate, you need to research and prepare. This means spending a lot of time writing and rewriting your speeches.
However, you can't just prewrite everything and expect to win. You also need to be able to think on your feet, write quickly, and respond promptly if you want to win.
To do this, you need to understand the keys to victory.
Always Listen to the Opponent Carefully
Being a good listener is one of the most important debating skills our students can have. When we think of winning a debate, we often think of dazzling the audience with our brilliance. But, being quiet and listening to others is often more important.
If students do not listen to the other side, they will not know what the other side is saying. They will not be able to refute the claims of the opposition effectively if they do not know what those claims are.
Understand the Audience
Before giving a speech, it is important to know who your audience is. Students should learn that the way they present their arguments may be different depending on the demographics of the audience and/or the judges they will be speaking to.
People who have retired from teaching and people who are still in school might have different reactions to the same arguments. This is also true during a debate.
If the person giving the speech sees that the listeners are not reacting well, they should change their approach during the speech.
Practice is the Key to Success
The students should practice their speech before the debate. There is no need to learn it by heart entirely.
Usually, there is no expectation to memorize a speech entirely. Doing so can lead to the speaker losing some of their spontaneity and power in their delivery. However, students should not spend the whole speech reading off a piece of paper word by word.
Students should be familiar with the content of their speech and use flashcards as prompts if necessary.
They should also focus on making their body language, facial expressions, and hand gestures coherent with the verbal content of their speech. One way to do this is to practice delivering their speech in front of a mirror.
The above guide will help you understand the writing process of a debate speech. But, despite that, not everyone can draft perfect content. Therefore, many students end up taking writing help online.
However, due to a lack of resources, they often get stuck with unprofessional services. Most of them offer low-quality content at cheap prices.
If you are tired of these online scams, go for our legit essay writing service . MyPerfectWords.com guarantees the best service and top-quality debates at budget-friendly rates.
Similarly, the expert writers have years of experience to deliver the work within the given deadline. They will also help you to choose engaging speech and debate topics.
Avail of reliable debate writing help by placing your order now.
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Complete Guide to Debating: How to Improve your Debating Skills
August 01, 2018 - gini beqiri.
Debating can look intimidating from the sidelines, with speakers appearing confident, passionate and unwavering, but it consists of skills that anybody can learn. Debating may not be something that you encounter in your everyday work but these skills can be incredibly valuable. In this article we provide a guide to the basics of debating.
What is debating?
A debate is a structured contest over an issue or policy. There are two sides - one supporting, one opposing.
Benefits of debating include:
- Allowing you to think about aspects and perspectives you may not have considered.
- Encourages you to speak strategically.
- Improving public speaking skills .
- Learning how to create a persuasive argument.
- When you have to argue against your personal view you realise that there are two sides to the argument.
The U.K. Prime Minister, Theresa May, answers questions:
This example video shows Theresa May answering questions from MPs in the House of Commons. Notice her strong debating skills and how she answers difficult questions under pressure.
Watch the full video here: Prime Minister’s Questions: 16 May 2018
There are multiple formats a debate can follow, this is a basic debate structure:
- A topic is chosen for each debate - this is called a resolution or motion. It can be a statement, policy or idea. The motion is usually a policy which changes the current state of affairs or a statement which is either truth or false. The motion typically starts with "This House..."
- The Affirmative team support the statement
- The Negative team oppose the statement
- Sometimes you will be asked to take a position in the debate but in other debates you will be allocated your position.
- Teams are provided with time to prepare - usually one hour
- Each speaker presents for a set amount of time
- Speakers alternate between the teams, usually a speaker in the Affirmative team starts, followed by a Negative speaker, then the second Affirmative speaker presents, followed by the second Negative speaker etc.
- The debate is then judged.
- There may be an audience present but they are not involved in the debate
Once you have learned how to debate in one format you can easily switch to another.
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Roles of the speakers
Each speaker must typically do the following:
- Contextualise the debate - clearly set out your team's interpretation of the topic and the significant issues they disagree with.
- Provide definitions if necessary.
- Outline the team line and the team split - this is where you outline your team's case and summarise the way your arguments have been divided between your speakers.
- Provide 2-3 arguments supporting the motion.
- Clearly state your definition
- Provide your arguments as to why this is the superior definition
- Rebut the Affirmative's arguments supporting their definition
- Outline a team line and team split.
- Rebut the arguments made by the First Affirmative.
- Deliver 2-3 arguments against the motion.
Debating is an important skill in many aspects of life, from winning political seats, to negotiating new contracts, to personal development.
- If needed, resolve any definitional issues.
- Rebut the First Negative's arguments.
- Deliver 2-3 arguments supporting the motion.
- Rebut the arguments made by the Affirmative team up to this point, with a focus on the Second Affirmative's arguments.
- Rebut specific issues raised by Second Negative and defend any other important attacks on your team's case.
- Conclude your speech with a brief summary (1-2 minutes) of your team's case. You should include the key issues which you and the Negative team disagreed on during this.
- You can introduce new material but this is interpreted as poor team planning.
- This is the same structure as the Third Affirmative.
There are many variations of the three against three debate, a commonly known one is Points of Information. This is used a lot in university debates . During a speech the opposition is allowed to ask a question or make a point.
They stand up and say "point of information" or "on that point" etc. The speaker can choose to accept or reject the point. If accepted, the point of information can last around 15 seconds and the speaker can ask for it to stop at any time.
Younger debaters tend to waste time defining terms so you must first decide whether you need to define a term. Ask yourself: will my speech be confusing if I don't define this term? Could the opposition misinterpret what I mean without a definition? For example, the motion could be "we should ban plastic straws". It's clear what "plastic straws" are but what does "ban" mean?
Two factors which determine the definition of the debate:
1. Context - what is happening in the area that relates to this issue? For example, maybe the government of a country is debating banning smoking in public buildings and you decide to define the term "passive smoking" during the debate. If a significant event related to the topic has occurred then it should be the focus of the debate, for instance, a shocking report may have recently been revealed in the media showing the widespread effects of second-hand smoking.
2. Spirit of the motion - topics are chosen for a reason so what sort of debate was imagined when the topic was chosen? Looking at the spirit of the motion will ensure that you pick a definition that will produce a well-balanced and important debate.
If the topic is vague then you will have more choice of definitions. You have a duty to pick a clear definition and one that will create a good debate. If not, this may cause a definitional challenge which will ruin the debate and frustrate the judges.
For example, the topic may be "we spend too much money on the stars". Stars can refer to celebrities or astronomy so you need to choose a definition.
- Look at the context and see if there has been a recent significant event related to either topics - the media is the best place to look.
- Then apply second test - which definition will lead to the best debate, which will be more interesting and debatable?
If one answer passes both tests then that's your definition. If they tie then either is a good definition.
When providing your definition explain the context used to form the definition. This is important because your understanding of the context may be different from others due to various factors, such as, religion, culture, gender etc.
Learn more about using AI to practice your debating skills .
Basic argument structure
There are various ways of dividing up cases according to groups of arguments, such as, social/economic/political etc. You could assign each speaker to handle a group.
Place the most important arguments first, for example, "The media has more influence on self-esteem than anybody else. This is true for three reasons. Firstly (most important argument)… Secondly…, Thirdly (least important argument)..."
To structure an argument follow these steps:
- Claim - present your argument in a clear statement. This claim is one reason why you're in favour of/against the motion.
- Evidence - the evidence supporting your claim, such as, statistics, references, quotes, analogies etc.
- Impact - explain the significance of the evidence - how does this support your claim?
Arguments are weakest at the evidence stage as it's easy to argue against, for example, the evidence may consist of isolated examples or there may be counter evidence. But it's not a good technique because the opposition can provide more evidence or rebut your criticisms.
It's difficult to rebut claims because they are usually reasonable but if you can attack a claim then that speaker's whole argument falls apart. So if you think a claim is vulnerable then rebut it but you will need a strong explanation to show why it doesn't matter.
European human rights debating for sixth form students from across London.
There are common flaws you can look for to form a rebuttal:
1. False dichotomy - this is where the speaker is trying to falsely divide the debate into two sides even though there are more alternatives than they state. It's likely the speaker is doing this on purpose but in some cases they do not understand the debate.
2. Assertion - this is when a speaker presents a statement which isn't actually an argument because there is no reason to believe that the statement is valid. It may just be an assumption. You can point out that there has not been enough examination to prove this validity and then give a reason why the assertion is (probably) not valid.
3. Morally flawed - arguments can be morally flawed, for example, "All criminals given a prison sentence should be given the death penalty instead, this will save the country money and space." What has been argued is true but it's clearly morally flawed.
4. Correlation rather than causation - a speaker may suggest a link between two events and suggest one led to the other. But the speaker may not explain how one caused the other event which can make an argument invalid.
5. Failure to deliver promises - sometimes a speaker might fail to complete a task they promised to deliver. For instance, they may state that they will provide evidence supporting a certain claim but they may lose track of what they have said and not actually do this.
6. Straw man - the opposing team introduces an argument and then rebuts it. They may use an extreme example of your proposal or perhaps they were hoping that you would make this argument.
7. Contradiction - an argument the other team presents may contradict one of their previous arguments. You must point out that the arguments cannot be true simultaneously and then explain how this reduces their case's credibility.
8. Compare the conclusion to reality - think "what would happen if what they (the other team) are suggesting is implemented right now?" This usually shows that it's more complicated than they have suggested and the changes can cause secondary problems.
Judges generally score the speakers looking at this criteria:
- Content / Matter - What the debaters say, their arguments and evidence, the relevance of their arguments.
- Style / Manner - How the debaters speak, including the language and tone used.
- Strategy / Method - The structure of the speech, the clarity and responding to other's arguments.
Debating event at the Oxford Union
Important skills for debating
To meet the judges criteria you will have to develop certain skills, consider the following:
- You points must be relevant to the topic.
- Provide evidence whenever you can and not your personal opinion.
- You must put aside your personal views and remain objective when you debate so your argument remains logical. You can be passionate about a topic but interest can turn into aggression and passion can turn into upset.
- Consider the audience's attention span - make it interesting, for example, don't just present lots of complicated statistics.
- Ethos - the ethical appeal
- Pathos - the emotional appeal
- Logos - the logical appeal
- Use notes but keep them brief and well organised. Use a different piece of paper for rebuttals.
- Similar to looking at conclusions to create rebuttals, think comparatively by asking yourself "How does my plan compare to what's happening now/what would happen in the world if the other team won?" You can win the debate if you can make comparative claims about why your arguments matter more than the other team.
- Only tell jokes if you're naturally good at it otherwise this can backfire.
- Flexibility is important because you might get allocated the side of the argument you don't agree with. You'll have to work hard to overcome your views. Also use this insight to think of the potential arguments you might make and then plan for counter arguments.
- Speak clearly and concisely.
- You must talk fast enough to have the time to deliver your speech but slow enough so you can be understood.
- Project your voice to the back of the room.
- Incorporate dramatic pauses.
- Emphasise important words and vary your tone appropriately.
- Have a relaxed pose and posture.
- Avoid filler words.
- Know your material.
- Emphasise using gestures and avoid nervous gestures.
- Maintain eye contact with the audience.
- Keep your language simple to avoid confusion.
- Refer to the opposite side as: "My opponent".
- When making a rebuttal say: "My opponent said..., however..."
- Don't exaggerate - avoid the words "never" or "always" etc.
- Avoid saying that a speaker "is wrong", instead say that "your idea is mistaken".
What to avoid
- Falsifying, making up or altering evidence.
- Publicly disagreeing with the judges' decision.
- Attacking a speaker rather than an idea.
- Acting aggressively or offensively towards debaters, judges, audience etc.
- Interrupting other debaters as this can suggest that your argument isn't very strong.
- Disagreeing with facts or obvious truths.
British Parliamentary debating
British Parliamentary debating is a popular form of debating so we will briefly explain it: There are four teams made up of two speakers each. Two teams are on the government's side and the other two teams are the opposition but all the teams are trying to win rather than one side. The motion is given 15 minutes before the debate begins and teams are assigned to positions randomly. They alternate their speeches, with the government's side starting. Speeches are usually 5-7 minutes.
The first two speakers on the government side are called the "opening government" and the first two speakers on the opposition's side are called the "opening opposition". The last two speakers on the government's and opposition's side are called the "closing government" and "closing opposition" correspondingly.
The speakers' roles in the opening half of the debate are similar to the roles of the first and second speakers in the three against three debate described previously. The only difference is that the second opening government and second opening opposition speakers include summaries at the end of their speeches - this is because they will also be competing with the teams in the closing half of the debate.
The closing government and closing opposition aim to move the debate on but not contradict their side's opening team. As well as rebuttal, the majority of the third speaker's time consists of presenting either: new material, new arguments, a new analysis from a different perspective or extending previously presented arguments. This is called an "extension" which must be something that sets their team apart and makes them unique.
The last two speeches of the closing teams are summary speeches - they summarise the debate and disagreements between the team. Their most important goal is to explain why their side has won the debate. They are not allowed to present new arguments but they can present new evidence and rebuttal.
During the speeches points of information are offered regularly. Speakers should only accept a maximum of two points of information. The first and last minute is protected time where points of information cannot be offered.
Rather than a side trying to win, all the teams are trying to win - this allows different perspectives to be explored. The teams are then ranked 1st to 4th in the debate.
Almost anything can be debated, here are some popular topics - these have been written as questions but they can be easily adapted into statements:
- Is animal experimentation justified?
- Should we legalise the possession of cannabis for medicinal use?
- Should we recognise Bitcoin as a legal currency?
- Is torture acceptable when used for national security?
- Should mobile phones be banned until a certain age?
- Does technology make us more lonely?
- Should guns be banned in the U.S.?
- Should we make internet companies liable for illegal content shared on their platforms?
- Will posting students’ grades publicly motivate them to perform better?
- Should animals be used for scientific testing?
- Do violent video games make people more violent?
- Should the death penalty be stopped completely?
- Should smoking in public places be completely banned?
- Should doping be allowed in professional sports?
- Should all zoos be closed?
- Should consumers must take responsibility for the plastic waste crisis?
- Is euthanasia justified?
- Is the boarding school system beneficial to children?
Debate topics for children
If you're trying to think of debate topics for a classroom, consider the following:
- Should mobile phones be allowed at school?
- Is global warming a problem?
- Should violent video games be banned?
- Is school detention beneficial?
- Are celebrities good role models?
- Does social networking have a beneficial effect on society?
- Are single sex schools more effective than co-ed schools?
- Do celebrities get away with more crime than non-celebrities?
- Is cloning animals ethical?
- Are humans to blame for certain animal extinctions?
If you're interested in debating consider searching for a society or debating events near you:
- Most universities have a debating society and their webpages usually contain lots of useful information and tips.
- Use Meetup to find debates close to you
Specific to the UK:
- Sylvans Debating Club
- The Association of Speakers Clubs