Advanced Delivery, Part I

Once you’ve got a handle on your presentation, start thinking about delivery as a tool for persuasion. You don’t want to simply get by with smooth presentation. Delivery can help you create a better connection with the judge. Delivery can also be used with purpose in order to be persuasive. Here are a few ways to move from okay delivery to outstanding delivery.

  • Vary your tone.
    • Often while debating we are so focused on argumentation, we forget what we sound like. The most common problem is going into a monotone voice – especially when you are reading a case or evidence from a written document. Make sure you vary your tone. Think of how a song moves up and down with the melody. Now I’m not saying you should sing, but your voice should have movement.


  • Spotlight important information with your voice.
    • Many debaters will simply get louder if they are saying something more “important.” Getting louder usually does nothing more than make the judge want to hit mute. The best way of spotlighting important information is with these delivery techniques:
    • tone: You can sound more serious, more astounded, change the pitch of your voice, etc.
    • pause: Pause before and after the information (sometimes a number or an impact) in order to spotlight that segment of a sentence.
    • pace: Slow down to highlight a sentence. I would argue against speeding up – you’re more likely to lose the judge than catch their attention.
    • volume: Slight increases in volume are okay.


  • Consistency of speech.
    • When you consider a debate round, there is a lot of speaking outside of speech time. You may talk to the judge before the round starts. You speak to your opponents casually before and after round. You give off-time roadmaps. You do cross-examination with your opponent. You want to appear consistent across these times – polite, clear, and approachable. I made the mistake for quite a few rounds of being overly polite in my roadmaps then I would begin rebuttal as if I was on the war path. No consistency whatsoever. Try to keep an even demeanor and tone throughout the debate, and make it be what is natural for you. 


  • “Speak” confidence.
    • Confidence is more than a tone. Confidence is how you carry yourself, how you arrange your desk, how you speak to your partner, how little you control your partner, how conversational you are with your opponents in cross-examination, etc. You “speak” confidence even when you are not speaking. Make sure you walk into the room ready to debate and already wearing your confidence (not arrogance) on your sleeve.

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