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How to Write a Winning Debate Speech

how to make debate introduction topics

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.

Visual Writing Prompts

A COMPLETE UNIT ON CLASSROOM DEBATING

Debate Speech,debating | class debating unit 1 | How to Write a Winning Debate Speech | literacyideas.com

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.

b.) Statistics

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.

  Practice Activity

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:

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.

Practice Activity

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!

The Conclusion

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.

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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.

And Finally…

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

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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.

NO PREP REQUIRED A ready-made unit on Class Debating awaits you.

Debate Writing

Debate Speech

Cathy A.

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:

It involves three basic elements given below.

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.

Rebuttals (No New Arguments)

Here, the debaters repeat the opponent’s arguments and analyze what is wrong with his position.

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.

how 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.

For Example:

“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.

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:

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.

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.

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.

Cathy A. (Literature, Marketing)

Cathy has been been working as an author on our platform for over five years now. She has a Masters degree in mass communication and is well-versed in the art of writing. Cathy is a professional who takes her work seriously and is widely appreciated by clients for her excellent writing skills.

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How to Begin a Debate

Last Updated: September 16, 2022 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Lynn Kirkham . Lynn Kirkham is a Professional Public Speaker and Founder of Yes You Can Speak, a San Francisco Bay Area-based public speaking educational business empowering thousands of professionals to take command of whatever stage they've been given - from job interviews, boardroom talks to TEDx and large conference platforms. Lynn was chosen as the official TEDx Berkeley speaker coach for the last four years and has worked with executives at Google, Facebook, Intuit, Genentech, Intel, VMware, and others. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article has 51 testimonials from our readers, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 848,420 times.

Opening a debate the right way will make your audience more interested and help you win your argument. Before your debate , take the time to prepare a solid opening that will win people over.

Grabbing the Audience's Attention

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Beginning the Debate

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Presenting the Debate

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Lynn Kirkham

The best way to start a debate is to open with a bold rhetorical question, a touching personal story that’s relevant to your argument, or a shocking statistic. Once you have your audience’s attention, define the key terms you’ll be using in your debate and summarize your case. For tips on presenting your argument, like how long to maintain eye contact with audience members, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to Start an Introduction for a Debate

The art of the debate is something that has been practiced among people for centuries. Like any performance or conversation though, the introduction to a debate is the most important part. Your introduction grabs your audience and gets their attention. As such, it should be one of the most thought out parts of your argument.

Research your part of the debate. Say for instance you are arguing for stricter gun control. You should already have your statistics on gun ownership, reasoning for stricter controls and what benefits that should have, and counter arguments against your opposition's likely points prepared before you sit down to work on your introduction.

Examine your points carefully. Your introduction should take the best points you prepared in your debate, without actually using them up front. For example, if you were opening a debate for gay marriage on the pro side, you should mention broad points, such as the idea of equal rights. You should not include specific numbers in your introduction.

Write your introduction. It should include a statement of your purpose and view on the debate, as well as list broad, persuasive points. The language used should be appealing to your target audience, and your introduction should be as brief as possible, taking no more than 20-30 seconds to read aloud.

Test your introduction on a target audience. Find someone outside of your research and ask them to read it, or to listen to you read it. Ask them for feedback. Find out what parts of the introduction work, if the language is right, and if the tone is proper. Then revise your introduction, and try it again.

Once your introduction has been revised, revamped, and tested on other people, it's ready to be read. Care should be taken that every part of your debate undergoes the same treatment as the introduction, otherwise your audience will be sucked in by a false promise.

Neal Litherland is an author, blogger and occasional ghostwriter. His experience includes comics, role playing games and a variety of other projects as well. He holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Indiana University, and resides in Northwest Indiana.

How to Make an Introduction Paragraph for a Debate

Oubria tronshaw, 21 aug 2018.

The introduction is one of the most important parts of debate.

Debates provide a forum for individuals to logically examine opposing sides of an argument. During a debate, one person takes the affirmative or is in agreement with the issue. Another person takes the negative side and offers a solid disagreement with the issue. The introduction paragraph to a debate is crucial. It's your first opportunity to grab the audience's attention and help them see the issue from your point of view whether that is positive or negative viewpoint. Formulate your intro so that even if the audience doesn't hear another word, they'll know where you stand.

Explore this article

1 Researching Debate Speech Topic

After choosing your debate speech topic and the side of the issue you will take, the next step is to research it thoroughly. When researching use everything at your disposal including the Internet, library books and periodicals, media footage and personal interviews. While you are researching, take notes on your research findings. Think about your topic in present-day terms and find a way to connect to the subject in a way that means something to you personally.

2 Investigating The Debate Speech Argument

After conducting your research, next investigate both sides of the argument. While you may only have a strong feeling on one side, looking at both arguments helps make your debate speech presentation stronger. Search for holes in both theories so you'll be prepared to take either the affirmative or the negative. You'll want to use logical and not emotional arguments to support your case.

3 Writing the Introduction

Next, begin the debate paragraph introduction with what you consider to be the most solid fact that supports your case. Great ways to start a speech can include this strong research. For example, if you're arguing that condoms should be issued in middle school health classes and your research revealed 30 percent of teen pregnancies occur in middle school, start there. Grab the audience's attention by stating the most compelling part of your research right away in the opening paragraph. That strong opener is a great way to start a speech but especially a debate speech.

4 Researching Supporting Facts

After you begin writing the introduction, consider additional facts from your research to explain to the audience what will happen if your argument is not heeded. For example, if you're arguing for stricter parole requirements for child molesters, statistics the number of child molesters released on early parole that go on to be repeat offenders would be a compelling fact to include. Read your introduction paragraph, but pretend you're on the other side of the argument. Strengthen any weaknesses in your reasoning.

5 Ask for Introduction Review

Before giving your debate speech, show your introduction paragraph to someone else like your debate coach, a peer, teacher, mentor or parent. After they've read that introduction paragraph and the supporting debate speech, ask for their opinions on the content. Consider their suggestions and revise your introduction accordingly.

6 Giving the Debate Introduction

When it comes time to present the debate speech, make sure you also consider how you present the information. Other debate strategies include speaking clearly when delivering your introduction to the audience. Another strong strategy to keep in mind is to make eye contact. This shows your audience that you're speaking from your convictions, rather than simply reading something you wrote.

About the Author

Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.

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Complete Guide to Debating and how to Improve your Debating Skills

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Complete Guide to Debating: How to Improve your Debating Skills

August 01, 2018 - gini beqiri.

Debating can look intimidating from the sidelines, with speakers appearing confident, passionate and unwavering, but it consists of skills that anybody can learn. Debating may not be something that you encounter in your everyday work but these skills can be incredibly valuable. In this article we provide a guide to the basics of debating.

What is debating?

A debate is a structured contest over an issue or policy. There are two sides - one supporting, one opposing.

Benefits of debating include:

Debating examples

The U.K. Prime Minister, Theresa May, answers questions:

This example video shows Theresa May answering questions from MPs in the House of Commons. Notice her strong debating skills and how she answers difficult questions under pressure.

Watch the full video here: Prime Minister’s Questions: 16 May 2018

Debate structure

There are multiple formats a debate can follow, this is a basic debate structure:

Once you have learned how to debate in one format you can easily switch to another.

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Roles of the speakers

Each speaker must typically do the following:

First Affirmative

First Negative

Presidential Debate 2016

Debating is an important skill in many aspects of life, from winning political seats, to negotiating new contracts, to personal development.

Second Affirmative

Second Negative

Third Affirmative

Third Negative

There are many variations of the three against three debate, a commonly known one is Points of Information. This is used a lot in university debates . During a speech the opposition is allowed to ask a question or make a point.

They stand up and say "point of information" or "on that point" etc. The speaker can choose to accept or reject the point. If accepted, the point of information can last around 15 seconds and the speaker can ask for it to stop at any time.

Debate definitions

Younger debaters tend to waste time defining terms so you must first decide whether you need to define a term. Ask yourself: will my speech be confusing if I don't define this term? Could the opposition misinterpret what I mean without a definition? For example, the motion could be "we should ban plastic straws". It's clear what "plastic straws" are but what does "ban" mean?

Two factors which determine the definition of the debate:

1. Context - what is happening in the area that relates to this issue? For example, maybe the government of a country is debating banning smoking in public buildings and you decide to define the term "passive smoking" during the debate. If a significant event related to the topic has occurred then it should be the focus of the debate, for instance, a shocking report may have recently been revealed in the media showing the widespread effects of second-hand smoking.

2. Spirit of the motion - topics are chosen for a reason so what sort of debate was imagined when the topic was chosen? Looking at the spirit of the motion will ensure that you pick a definition that will produce a well-balanced and important debate.

If the topic is vague then you will have more choice of definitions. You have a duty to pick a clear definition and one that will create a good debate. If not, this may cause a definitional challenge which will ruin the debate and frustrate the judges.

For example, the topic may be "we spend too much money on the stars". Stars can refer to celebrities or astronomy so you need to choose a definition.

If one answer passes both tests then that's your definition. If they tie then either is a good definition.

When providing your definition explain the context used to form the definition. This is important because your understanding of the context may be different from others due to various factors, such as, religion, culture, gender etc.

Basic argument structure

There are various ways of dividing up cases according to groups of arguments, such as, social/economic/political etc. You could assign each speaker to handle a group.

Place the most important arguments first, for example, "The media has more influence on self-esteem than anybody else. This is true for three reasons. Firstly (most important argument)… Secondly…, Thirdly (least important argument)..."

To structure an argument follow these steps:

Arguments are weakest at the evidence stage as it's easy to argue against, for example, the evidence may consist of isolated examples or there may be counter evidence. But it's not a good technique because the opposition can provide more evidence or rebut your criticisms.

It's difficult to rebut claims because they are usually reasonable but if you can attack a claim then that speaker's whole argument falls apart. So if you think a claim is vulnerable then rebut it but you will need a strong explanation to show why it doesn't matter.

European human rights debating

European human rights debating for sixth form students from across London.

There are common flaws you can look for to form a rebuttal:

1. False dichotomy - this is where the speaker is trying to falsely divide the debate into two sides even though there are more alternatives than they state. It's likely the speaker is doing this on purpose but in some cases they do not understand the debate.

2. Assertion - this is when a speaker presents a statement which isn't actually an argument because there is no reason to believe that the statement is valid. It may just be an assumption. You can point out that there has not been enough examination to prove this validity and then give a reason why the assertion is (probably) not valid.

3. Morally flawed - arguments can be morally flawed, for example, "All criminals given a prison sentence should be given the death penalty instead, this will save the country money and space." What has been argued is true but it's clearly morally flawed.

4. Correlation rather than causation - a speaker may suggest a link between two events and suggest one led to the other. But the speaker may not explain how one caused the other event which can make an argument invalid.

5. Failure to deliver promises - sometimes a speaker might fail to complete a task they promised to deliver. For instance, they may state that they will provide evidence supporting a certain claim but they may lose track of what they have said and not actually do this.

6. Straw man - the opposing team introduces an argument and then rebuts it. They may use an extreme example of your proposal or perhaps they were hoping that you would make this argument.

7. Contradiction - an argument the other team presents may contradict one of their previous arguments. You must point out that the arguments cannot be true simultaneously and then explain how this reduces their case's credibility.

8. Compare the conclusion to reality - think "what would happen if what they (the other team) are suggesting is implemented right now?" This usually shows that it's more complicated than they have suggested and the changes can cause secondary problems.

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Judges generally score the speakers looking at this criteria:

Debating event at the Oxford Union

Debating event at the Oxford Union

Important skills for debating

To meet the judges criteria you will have to develop certain skills, consider the following:

What to avoid

British Parliamentary debating

British Parliamentary debating is a popular form of debating so we will briefly explain it: There are four teams made up of two speakers each. Two teams are on the government's side and the other two teams are the opposition but all the teams are trying to win rather than one side. The motion is given 15 minutes before the debate begins and teams are assigned to positions randomly. They alternate their speeches, with the government's side starting. Speeches are usually 5-7 minutes.

The first two speakers on the government side are called the "opening government" and the first two speakers on the opposition's side are called the "opening opposition". The last two speakers on the government's and opposition's side are called the "closing government" and "closing opposition" correspondingly.

British MPs debate a petition seeking to ban Donald Trump from entering the U.K.

The speakers' roles in the opening half of the debate are similar to the roles of the first and second speakers in the three against three debate described previously. The only difference is that the second opening government and second opening opposition speakers include summaries at the end of their speeches - this is because they will also be competing with the teams in the closing half of the debate.

The closing government and closing opposition aim to move the debate on but not contradict their side's opening team. As well as rebuttal, the majority of the third speaker's time consists of presenting either: new material, new arguments, a new analysis from a different perspective or extending previously presented arguments. This is called an "extension" which must be something that sets their team apart and makes them unique.

The last two speeches of the closing teams are summary speeches - they summarise the debate and disagreements between the team. Their most important goal is to explain why their side has won the debate. They are not allowed to present new arguments but they can present new evidence and rebuttal.

During the speeches points of information are offered regularly. Speakers should only accept a maximum of two points of information. The first and last minute is protected time where points of information cannot be offered.

Rather than a side trying to win, all the teams are trying to win - this allows different perspectives to be explored. The teams are then ranked 1st to 4th in the debate.

Debate topics

Almost anything can be debated, here are some popular topics - these have been written as questions but they can be easily adapted into statements:

Debate topics for children

If you're trying to think of debate topics for a classroom, consider the following:

Debating societies

If you're interested in debating consider searching for a society or debating events near you:

Specific to the UK:

Noisy Classroom

Five steps for preparing a debate with a class

Divide the class into four groups

Give each of the four groups one side of one of the topics to prepare 

Give each member of the class some sticky notes to write on

Follow the five steps

Step 1: Brainstorm ideas 

Step 2: Organise ideas

Step Three: Structure the speeches

Introduce the idea of the speech structure on the board:

Step 4: Prepare your speeches

Introduce the Idea of developing your arguments by “Making Them REAL”

Choose the first speakers in each group and allow them some time to think about how to make each of their points REAL. Only allow them to write down six words for each point (in addition to the name)– it’s speaking and listening not reading out!

Choose the summary speaker and either a chair or timekeeper from each group

Step 5: Prepare the rest of the class

Whilst the first three speakers are preparing their speeches:

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IMAGES

  1. Best Philosophical Debate Topics

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  2. Debate Topics for College Students

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  6. This resource has everything you need to set up and implement a formal debate in your classroom

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COMMENTS

  1. Writing a Winning Debate Speech

    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

  2. How to Write a Debate Speech

    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

  3. 4 Ways to Begin a Debate

    Greet the audience. You should always greet your audience. Greeting your audience shows that you are confident and serious about the topic you will be debating

  4. How To Start A Debate Greeting

    How To Start A Debate Greeting (Examples) · Good morning to all of you present here. · Good morning respected jury members, teachers and my dear

  5. How to Start an Introduction for a Debate

    Write your introduction. It should include a statement of your purpose and view on the debate, as well as list broad, persuasive points.

  6. How to write a debate in seven easy steps

    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'.

  7. How to Make an Introduction Paragraph for a Debate

    The introduction paragraph to a debate is crucial. It's your first opportunity to grab the audience's attention and help them see the issue from

  8. Complete Guide to Debating: How to Improve your Debating Skills

    Re-contextualise the debate and resolve any definitional issues - if you have disagreements with the definition given by the Affirmative

  9. Five steps for preparing a debate with a class

    Step 1: Brainstorm ideas · Individual brainstorm – allow five minutes silent time for individual brainstorming – the pupils should write one point on each of the

  10. PRESENTING ADEBATE TOPIC

    debate successfully, students need to be able to react to their ... can use a counter-argument to disrupt their presentation—many debates have time built in