General Strategy, Part II

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.

  • Use “even if” to create options.
    • “Even if” may be my favorite debate phrase. The reason why it is so great is because it helps gives the judge mutually exclusive ways of voting. Use “even if” when structuring your summary and final focus to give the judge options for voting for your team. “Even if you don’t vote for us based on the economic impacts, the political backlash impacts are enough to negate the resolution.” “Even if you buy our opponents’ argument about tax increases, we show you how the long term economic gains will more than pay for this one time cost.” Even if allows you to provide different ways to vote for you as well as helps you explicitly weigh impacts for the judge.
  • Extend your Framework into the Summary and Final Focus.
    • Your Framework helps create a story in the later speeches by giving the judge a connection between seemingly disparate impacts. Use your Framework to connect your independent arguments together to create the “world” on your side. It also helps differentiate your side from your opponents’ side. Don’t just talk about your Framework, apply it to the impacts in the second half speeches.
  • Impact + WHY
    • Anytime you discuss an impact in the second half, you must give the judge a WHY as well.The WHY is what tells the judge how to think about the “fact” you present in your impact. This can be:
      • why the impact matters
      • why the impact has a greater magnitude than an opposing impact
      • why the impact has a greater probability than an opposing impact
      • why the impact happens (sooner or is long term and therefore matter more) than an opposing impact
  • Make your opponents talk.
    • If your opponents have made a mistake, have flawed logic, are misusing evidence, or any other mistake, make them talk about it! Generally the more your opponent is forced to explain something flawed, the more apparent the flaw becomes.
  • If you make multiple responses on your opponents’ arguments in Rebuttal, take advantage of this the second half.
    • Too many times the work of the rebuttal speech is simply forgotten when the timer sounds. If you make multiple responses on an opposing argument in rebuttal, mention at least one in Summary when you discuss the main issues of the round. Remind the judge that you responded as you did – you don’t have to reinvent new reasons why your opponents are wrong.
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