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How to Write a Debate Outline
Last Updated: January 20, 2023 References
This article was co-authored by wikiHow Staff . Our trained team of editors and researchers validate articles for accuracy and comprehensiveness. wikiHow's Content Management Team carefully monitors the work from our editorial staff to ensure that each article is backed by trusted research and meets our high quality standards. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 215,165 times. Learn more...
Debates are a common assignment in high school and college classes where 2 individuals or teams present opposing arguments about a particular issue or question. Although you may feel like you debate people all the time, writing a debate outline requires a bit more research and organization than simply arguing with someone. Fortunately, once you know how to effectively categorize and present the evidence for your argument, writing a debate outline is a relatively straightforward process.
Researching for Your Debate
- Team debates are one of the most common debate forms. In the first half of the debate, each team has two segments to present arguments for their side. In the second half of the debate, each team has two segments to rebut arguments presented in the first half.
- Lincoln-Douglas debates are set up to allow one side to present their arguments, and then the other team to cross-examine them. The second team then presents their arguments and has the first team cross-examine them. Finally, each team has an opportunity for a final rebuttal.
- For example, if the topic of the debate is on the environmental impact of gas cars versus electric cars, gather research from academic journals and consumer watchdogs on carbon emissions, what impact carbon has on environmental degradation, and statements from experts on the topic, such as environmental scientists and car manufacturers.
- If you're writing the debate outline for an assignment and can't pick your own side, focus on gathering as much evidence as possible to strengthen the argument you're tasked with making.
- Whatever argument you ultimately make, make sure that it is logically sound and that you have convincing, relevant evidence that supports it.
- Be sure to note all bibliographical information on your notes.
- For every supporting piece of evidence you find for your case, try to find another piece of evidence to counter it. This will help you build your argument later.
- It is better to include more points than you think you will need, than not doing enough research and lacking evidence.
- For instance, if your most compelling piece of evidence is a graph that shows that gas cars emit twice as much carbon as electric cars, place this at the top of your evidence list.
- If you have a fairly lengthy debate planned, break up your case evidence into categorical sections. For example, you could have legal, moral, and economic support for your case.
- Aim to have a minimum of 3 supporting facts or pieces of evidence in your case outline.
Creating the Basic Outline
- Subdivide information. Main headings will probably consist of arguments, while subheadings will contain different pieces of supporting evidence.
- Use correct symbols. Each level of the outline has a particular symbol to use. The main headings will use Roman numerals (I, II, III, IV). Subheadings use capital letters (A, B, C). Sub-sub headings use Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3). Keep these consistent throughout your outline.
- Indent each level. Indentation helps you follow the line of argument and keeps your outline organized.
- Your thesis statement should explain which side of the debate you'll be taking and why your case is stronger than your opponent's.
- For example, if you're debating whether gas cars or electric cars are cleaner, your thesis statement might be: “Electric cars are cleaner than gas cars.”
- For example, if you're arguing that electric cars are cleaner than gas cars because they produce less carbon dioxide, your first main point would be: “Electric cars produce less carbon dioxide emissions than gas cars.”
- For example, the evidence that electric cars produce less carbon dioxide emissions than gas cars might include statistical information compiled by the Energy Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.
- For example, if you're pretty confident that your opponent will argue that your evidence relies on biased sources, you can prepare a rebuttal to that claim by finding additional evidence to support your argument from a variety of sources.
- Look to find rebuttals for both the individual parts of their argument in addition to the whole of it. This will fortify your position in the debate.
- Many times their argument will be the opposite of yours, so while your argument lists the pros, theirs is listing the cons of a particular value. If you pay attention to this, you will be able to not only prove their side of the argument invalid, but also help to further promote your own.
- Write this more detailed outline as if you were actually speaking in the debate. This will help you to better understand your own argument and come up with logical questions and rebuttals for your opponent.
Avoiding Logical Fallacies
- For example, if you're promoting the abolition of the death penalty, your opponent might commit the straw man by accusing you of lacking sympathy for the families of victims, and that you don't want true criminals to pay for their crimes.
- For example, if you're arguing for legalizing gay marriage and your opponent says that it is a bad idea, because soon enough we will be legalizing polygamy and bestial relationships in all the states.
- For example, if you've presented a well-crafted argument for your case but your opponent has not, they may instead try to call out your bad grades as a rebuttal. Even if this is true, it isn't relevant to the topic of the debate and therefore isn't logically valid.
- Even if your opponent brings personal issues and insults into a debate, you should never do this back to them. Not only is it logically fallacious; it's also widely considered rude.
- For example, if you were to claim that electric cars are “always” cleaner than gas cars, your opponent might point out that a gas car in a carwash is cleaner than an electric car covered in mud. To avoid this fallacy, steer clear of ambiguous words like “always.”
- For example, it would be logically fallacious to argue that the death penalty is the most effective form of punishment just because most people support it.
- For example, your opponent states that as a result, the only two options are to legalize all drugs or to outlaw them.
- Debates are based on evidence, support, and organization. Do your best to find appropriate resources and to keep your arguments easy to follow. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Do not rely on emotional appeals. Though emotional appeals are a powerful motivator for change, debates are based on logic and evidence. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
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- ↑ https://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/cur/socstud/frame_found_sr2/tns/tn-13.pdf
- ↑ https://learn.stleonards.vic.edu.au/debating/files/2013/08/DEBATING-CHEAT-SHEET.pdf
- ↑ https://www.wittenberg.edu/sites/default/files/media/occ/forms/debate.pdf
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/developing_an_outline/types_of_outlines.html
- ↑ https://valenciacollege.edu/students/learning-support/winter-park/communications/documents/SampleArgumentOutline.pdf
- ↑ https://www.comm.pitt.edu/four-step-refutation
- ↑ https://www.gvsu.edu/cms4/asset/CC3BFEEB-C364-E1A1-A5390F221AC0FD2D/avoiding_logical_fallacies.pdf
- ↑ https://www.palomar.edu/users/bthompson/Fallacies%20of%20Ambiguity.html
About This Article
To write a debate outline, start by writing down your primary argument or the case you are trying to prove. Under your argument, list the supporting evidence so that the most powerful and persuasive evidence is presented first. Then, list potential questions or arguments that may be brought up by the other side, along with different ways to counter them. Finally, organize your outline using headings, subheadings, and bulleted lists, and write out each section in complete, detailed sentences. For more advice, including how to avoid logical fallacies that can hurt or weaken your argument, keep reading. Did this summary help you? Yes No
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Debate Outline: Debate Speech Outline
- Author Miriam M.
A debate can be described as a discussion in which people or groups state different opinions about a subject. It can also be described as a competition in which teams of people, mostly students, discuss a subject in front of a group of judges and the team that makes the best argument wins.
Debate Outline: Debate Outline For Students In College Or Highschool
The following is a debate outline:
1. First Affirmative Constructive .
Introduction . The introduction is made up of:
- Opening . State your name as well as your partner’s name. State also that you are speaking for the affirmative. Express pleasure for the chance to debate the topic. Give your resolution.
- Define the key terms in your presentation.
- Present your thesis statement to give your audience a direction.
- Describe the issue that you are presenting..
- Support the affirmative case using 4 to 6 arguments. Present at least three pieces of evidence to support your reasoning.
- Prove that there is a need for change and why there is a problem.
- Show that there is harm with the present system.
- Explain how the existing system contributes to the problem.
- Briefly introduce your plan and how it is going to solve the problem.
- Summarize your arguments and thank your audience.
2. First Negative Constructive .
- State your name as well as your partner’s name and also that you are speaking for the negative. Give your regards for the opportunity to debate the topic.
- Either accept the affirmative’s definitions or correct the definitions that have been presented by the affirmative side.
- Explain your arguments from a negative point of view.
- Introduce your case with a thesis statement.
- State negative point of view by presenting four to six arguments. Present at least three pieces of evidence to support your arguments.
- Deny that there is a need for change .
- Deny that the present system plays a part in creating the problem.
- Refute that there is need for a plan by stating why it may cause more harm than good.
- Attack the affirmatives arguments with reasons and enough evidence to support them.
- Summarize the negative arguments and thank the audience for their time.
3. Second Affirmative Constructive .
This part includes:
- Give an overview of the debate so far, comparing the affirmative and negative arguments. .
- Defend your definitions of terms if necessary.
- Present a thesis statement to give the audience the direction your argument is taking.
- Attack the negative arguments by defending the existing system..
- Attack each of the challenges issued by the negative side directly.
- Restate why there is need for change . .
- Explain your plan by giving details. Describe the benefits of the plan and how the plan will solve the existing problem.
- Finish off by appealing for adoption of the resolution and thank the audience.
4. Second Negative Constructive.
- Review the negative arguments.
- Present a thesis statement.
- Present arguments to attack the plan as undesirable. Prove that it will be unable to solve the existing needs.
- Make a huge deal about the omission of a plan if the affirmative side did not present one.
- Question all affirmative challenges directly and specifically.
- Refute the affirmative case as a whole.
- Summarize problems of the plan and thank the audience.
- Contest the arguments brought forward by the second affirmative.
- Attack the affirmative’s justification for change.
- Summarize the entire negative arguments.
- Disapprove the objections raised by the negative side against your plans.
- Rebuild your case by offering new evidence to support your arguments.
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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 complete a complete guide to persuasive writing, which will form the backbone of your debating speech that can be accessed here.
A COMPLETE UNIT ON CLASSROOM DEBATING
This unit will guide your students to write excellent DEBATE SPEECHES and craft ARGUMENTS that are well-researched, constructed and ready for critique from their classmates.
Furthermore, this EDITABLE UNIT will provide you with 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 aim of the teams 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 to write and deliver powerfully 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.
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.
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 which side of the debate the speaker is on.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A COMPLETE UNIT FOR TEACHING OPINION WRITING IN 2022
Teach your students to write EXCELLENT PERSUASIVE ESSAYS and master INFLUENTIAL WRITING SKILLS using PROVEN TEACHING STRATEGIES with this 140-PAGE UNIT.
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VIDEO TUTORIALS TO HELP YOU WRITE A GREAT DEBATE SPEECH
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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- 1. How to Write a Debate Outline Creating Your Basic OutlineAvoiding Logical Fallacies Edited by Chris, Teresa, BR, Lutherus and 7 others Debates are a common assignment in high school and college classes where two individuals or teams discuss an issue. In many ways, writing a debate outline is similar to the other outlines you might write for papers and speeches. However, since debates are not necessarily a familiar form of communication, it is important to know how to write a debate outline so your side is structured properly. Part 1 of 2: Creating Your Basic Outline Identify the form of debate you are using. Each form has its own organizational structure. You will base your debate outline on that structure. There are two common forms used in schools and competitions. Other forms are simply varieties of these two, changing the amount of time available and the organization of different segments. Team debates are one of the most common debate forms. In the first half of the debate, each team has two segments to present arguments for their side. In the second half of the debate, each team has two segments to rebut arguments presented in the first half. Lincoln-Douglas debates are set up to allow one side to present their arguments, and then the other team to cross-examine them. The second team then presents their arguments and has the first team cross-examine them. Finally, each team has an opportunity for a final rebuttal. Do your research. Whatever form your debate takes, you will have the opportunity to present your side of the issue. Gather all of your research and look for common arguments. On a piece of paper, list different pieces of evidence under each line of argument. This can include quotes, examples, cases, facts, and statistics. Be sure to note all bibliographical information on your notes.
- 2. Use the best research at your disposal, not just the first entries on google, in order to find solid evidence. Visit the library and look for peer-reviewed journals for a good selection of research. For every supporting piece of evidence you find for your case, try to find another piece of evidence to counter it. This will help you build your argument later. It is better to include more points than you think you will need, than not doing enough research and lacking evidence. Follow outlining principles. While the order of your material will be determined by your debate form, the format for your debate outline should follow the basic guidelines for outlining. If you are doing your debate for a class, you were likely presented with a rubric which you should be making sure you are following. Subdivide information. Main headings will probably consist of arguments, while subheadings will contain different pieces of supporting evidence. Use correct symbols. Each level of the outline has a particular symbol to use. The main headings will use Roman numerals (I, II, III, IV). Subheadings use capital letters (A, B, C). Sub-sub headings use Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3). Keep these consistent throughout your outline. Indent each level. Indentation helps you follow the line of argument and keeps your outline organized. Outline your case. Your case is your primary argument: the value you are trying to uphold through a variety of evidence. Start the outline of your debate by compiling a list of evidence that supports your case. Order it so that the most influential and powerful evidence is the first to be presented, mediocre evidence is in the middle, and a final powerful piece is at the end. If you have a fairly lengthy debate planned, break up your case evidence into categorical sections. For example, you could have legal, moral, and economic support for your case. Aim to have a minimum of three supporting facts or pieces of evidence in your case outline. In debates in particular, quality is better than quantity.
- 3. Prepare potential rebuttals. You will have the opportunity to rebut or question the arguments presented by the other side. Identify potential arguments they may bring up. Many opposing arguments will probably be addressed in your research. Brainstorm different ways to counter these arguments during your rebuttal should the opposing side bring it up. Look to find rebuttals for both the individual parts of their argument in addition to the whole of it. This will fortify your position in the debate. Many times their argument will be the opposite of yours, so while your argument lists the pros, theirs is listing the cons of a particular value. If you pay attention to this, you will be able to not only prove their side of the argument invalid, but also help to further promote your own. Add detail to your outline. When you have made a bare bones outline of your case and rebuttals, begin adding a bit more detail that will benefit either essay writing or debating on the subject. Keep the outline form of headers, sections, and bulleted lists, but write in complete sentences, add in helpful questions and evidence, and make your argument more well rounded than just a list of a few words. Write this more detailed outline as if you were speaking in the debate. This will help you with wording and understand your own argument, and coming up with logical questions and rebuttals for your opponent. Be sure to avoid logical fallacies in your case outline and rebuttal/response. A sound argument will be based on solid evidence that you can back up with if necessary. Part 2 of 2: Avoiding Logical Fallacies Avoid using a straw man. Often used by beginning debaters in their outlines, the straw man fallacy is when you misrepresent your opponents case by describing it wrongly to the audience. Make sure you don’t do this in your rebuttal, and if your opponent does it to you be sure to call them out on it.
- 4. For example, if you’re promoting the abolition of the death penalty, your opponent might commit the straw man by accusing you of lacking sympathy for the families of victims, and that you don’t want true criminals to pay for their crimes. Watch out for the slippery slope. When making your outline for your case and rebuttals, it may be easy to refer to using the slippery slope fallacy. This happens when you assume something more extreme will happen on the basis that something less extreme is about to occur. For example, if you’re arguing for legalizing gay marriage and your opponent says that it is a bad idea, because soon enough we will be legalizing polygamy and bestial relationships in all the states. Be careful of the ad hominem fallacy. Often used by the losing part of a debate, the ad hominem fallacy is when instead of attacking the merit of a case being presented, the opponent makes personal attacks against the person presenting the case. For example, if you’ve presented a well worded argument for your case but your opponent has not, at their time for rebuttal they may instead make light of your poor grades or drinking problem. This is unrelated, may or may not be true, and has no effect on the debate. Avoid asking loaded questions. When loaded questions are used in debate, they seemingly point to an obvious fault in the argument, when instead they have caught the debater off-guard. Loaded questions are those which have a presumptuous base, so that the person answering the question is forced to defend themselves even if it’s not true. In a debate about legalizing marijuana, your opponent accuses you of taking drugs by asking, “is it not true that you’re interested in legalizing marijuana because you yourself have done drugs in the past?”
- 5. Avoid using ambiguous language and explanations. When someone doesn’t quite know what to say or is trying to avoid saying something that would appear detrimental to their case, they often use ambiguous language. This is where you give unclear explanations and are incredibly vague in your descriptions of things and events. For example, if you ask your opponent why exactly why we should convert to a socialist system and they say something about how more people will benefit from it, but they aren’t able to supply clear evidence other than emotional reasoning. Stay away from the bandwagon fallacy. This is one of the most commonly committed fallacies, in which you assume something is correct or good simply because it is of popular belief. For example, you state in your argument that because most people promote the death penalty, that it is the most effective means of punishment. Be careful of using the false dilemma fallacy. Often used at the end of a debate to highlight the goodness of making a decision in your favor, the false dilemma fallacy occurs when you offer only two final options (black or white) when there may indeed be several other options available. For example, your opponent states that as a result, the only two options are to legalize all drugs or to outlaw them. Avoid using anecdotes instead of evidence. When presenting to an audience, often it is easier to rely on personal experiences and stories as the basis for an argument rather than finding clear evidence that supports a belief. For example, your opponent argues that because their friend decided to have their baby instead of having an abortion and ended up happier, all women will feel the same way in a similar position.
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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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20+ Debate Speech Outline Examples
The debate speech outline examples below will help you to know how to write a debate speech. Are you a teacher handling English Composition or Essay Writing? You will find these debate speech outlines very useful.
Note that the majority of the outlines show you what the first speaker should say in a debate speech. This is because most high school level debate speech questions ask the candidate to write the principal speaker or main speaker’s debate speech.
These are debate speech outlines
And on the happy occasion that you are faced with a debate speech question which is exactly the same as any one of the debate essay questions here, you will have an easier task planning and writing your awesome debate speech.
It’s time to get down to why you’re here. Find the examples of the debate speech outline for specific essay questions below.
3. Pros with evidence (That is, when you support the motion)
SEE ALSO: How to Write a Report Essay (with example)
4. POINTS AGAINST: Cons. with evidence
Best SHS Literature PDFs & More – Free
As the principal speaker in an inter-school debate, write your speech for or against the motion: Money is the root of all evil.
2. Opening remarks, your STANCE and why
4. POINTS FOR: Pros WITH EVIDENCE
3. POINTS FOR: Pros with evidence
5. Conclusion/closing remarks.
There is an inter-school debate on the motion, “ The prefect should always be on the side of the school authorities ”. As the main speaker for your school, write your speech for or against the motion.
2 . Opening remarks, your STANCE and why
You are the principal speaker in a debate on the motion, “ The participation of women is essential in nation building ”. Write your contribution for or against the motion.
3. POINTS FOR: PROS with evidence
To commemorate your school’s 20 th Anniversary, you have been invited to contribute to a debate on the motion; “ The national government should continue to borrow money for development”. Write your speech for or against the motion.
5. Conclusion/closing remarks
Question 16, question 17, question 18.
As the principal speaker at an inter-school debate, write your contribution for or against the motion. “ We do not need the extended family in our changing society”
2. Opening remarks, your STANCE and why,
.As the principal speaker at an inter-school debate, write your contribution for or against the motion: “ The youth of today have more opportunities than their predecessors” .
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Outline for Writing a PF Debate Speech
Name: ______________________________________________ Date: ____________
2013 September/October Topic - Resolved: Unilateral military force by the United States is justified to prevent nuclear proliferation.
Introduction : (You should write the intro and the conclusion LAST)
Because (of what you just said in the introduction), my partner and I firmly affirm/negate the resolution which states: Resolved: Unilateral military force by the United States is justified to prevent nuclear proliferation for the following reasons:
Contention (claim) 1:
Warrant (evidence to support your contention)
Impact (why your contention and evidence should matter to the judge … what is important for the judge to understand.
TRANSITION sentence to ___________
Contention (claim) 2:
Contention (claim) 3:
Conclusion : Bring it back to the introduction. DO NOT repeat your contentions! Make an intellectual or emotional appeal to the judge.
- Questions or Feedback? |
Composing a debate introduction depends on whether or not a person is the moderator, proposer or opposition. Opening statements for individuals who are not leading the debate usually include positive or negative marks.
Debate is important because it helps people develop skills that enable them to be more engaged citizens, discuss current political and global issues, understand opposing views, cooperate with others, make informed decisions and think critic...
To write an opening statement for a debate, use facts gained from research to support the team’s point of view. Demonstrate that the opposing argument is wrong while remaining polite.
The introduction should include an overview of the research question or topic of debate, as well as a thesis statement for your overall argument. On a sheet of
Debate Outline: Debate Speech Outline · Opening. · Describe the issue that you are presenting.. · State your name as well as your partner's name
It may be a good idea to congratulate them on a well-done debate, but make it clear that you are
Support the affirmative case with 4 –6 contentions, have at least 3
This short video provides seven steps to assist when writing a debate. It is a follow up to the previous video 'How to run a debate'.
Anticipate counter arguments and prepare rebuttals.
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
Keep the outline form of headers, sections, and bulleted lists, but write in complete sentences, add in helpful questions and evidence, and make
A debate speech format follows the below pattern. ... This section includes the opening sentences by using three arguments along with clarifying
Note that the majority of the outlines show you what the first speaker should say in a debate speech. This is because most high school level
Conclusion: Bring it back to the introduction. DO NOT repeat your contentions! Make an intellectual or emotional appeal to the judge.