WHAT IS contrast?


Contrast (verb):

: to be different especially in a way that is very obvious


: to compare (two people or things) to show how they are different

I would add…

: the key to winning a debate.

Contrast can clean up the messiest round because it shows the judge how your side and your opponents’ side are DIFFERENT.

To truly win, you cannot simply win your own arguments or prove that your impacts are important.

You have to prove your arguments or impacts are BETTER than your opponents’, thus the need for contrast.

To create effective contrast, use the tools in your PF toolkit.


  • Pre-emptive arguments: Embed pre-emptive arguments in your case in order to begin to draw comparisons with what your opponent is likely to say.
  • Framework: this should set-up a structure that helps you compare the two sides of the debate in your case. Extend it to continue the contrast throughout the round.
  • Pro/Con language: Make sure you tag arguments as yours and your opponents CLEARLY. You want to make sure the judge knows what belongs to what team.
  • Models: Using models in the Summary and Final Focus can help build contrast with organizational structures. One such model is the Pro world vs. Con world separation of arguments.
  • Impact Calculus: The tool to explicitly compare impacts based on components such as magnitude and probability.

Before you focus in on your goal of winning, aim for the goal of contrasting your case with your opponent’s case. You’ll be on your way to persuasion and a win.


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