General Strategy, Part I

After quite a few practice rounds at SNFI, I started seeing the same common problems occur over and over. A lot of them were simple fixes that I think a lot of debaters miss out on. Not only are they easy to miss in speech, but these mistakes cost you easy persuasion points. Here are a few general strategy tips to help you nudge yourself closer to win.

  • Exploit dropped arguments.
    • If your opponent does not attack one of your arguments, or attacks an argument but fails to refute the evidence or impact, extend that in the summary speech. I say “exploit” because too many teams will keep talking about the argument as if nothing has happened in the round. If your opponents drop the argument, point it out to the judge and then remind them how important the argument is. Low-hanging fruit to help you illustrate how you are debating better in the round.
  • Use specific taglines.
    • Refer to your arguments and your opponents arguments by taglines that are specific to the IMPACTS being discussed. Throwing out general terms such as “Economy” and “Political Rights” does nothing for the judge. Direct their attention with specifics.
  • Tell the argument and the story.
    • Most teams are good at extending their arguments because all that requires is for you to talk about it again. However, to be truly persuasive, the arguments need to be told in the larger story of the round in the Summary and Final Focus. This means you don’t just say what the impact is, you describe what it looks like, how big it is, how probable it is, and most importantly, what it looks like in comparison to your opponents arguments. Remember you are telling a story in order to envelope your arguments in a persuasive rhetorical coat. This means use your Framework!
  • Put long term impact analysis in CONTEXT.
    • Similar to the idea of story, you need to explain why impacts matter by pulling in other aspects of the “world” of the resolution. Do your economic impacts matter more because we are in a recession? Do the local impacts matter more because of domestic problems? Do diplomatic impacts matter more because of the global conflicts that are present? Draw a bigger picture around your long term impacts so the judge can imagine the world they will occur in.
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