Using your Preparation Time

The limited time you are given to prepare for the debate is a test of problem solving - how you maximize the limited time available to you to best prepare for the debate that lies ahead. Best use of prep time means a team must work well together.

Below are some questions you can ask yourself to help you prepare for a debate. Set A helps you understand what the debate is supposed to be about. This ensures the debate is clear and balanced, and helps you come up with the context, your position and the definition. Set B is about finding out the main arguments of the debates - what you will be using to persuade your audience and judges. Set C is about generating additional arguments and helping you to expand the ideas you already have.

A) Understanding the Debate

If you don't get this part, you might miss the point of the debate. Not doing this well leads to confusing and messy debates.

  1. What is this debate about?
  2. Why is this debate important?
  3. What are some things that need to be clearly defined for this debate to happen clearly?
  4. What should the GOV team and OPP team be defending in this debate?

B) Generating Arguments or Ideas

These are essential things to think about when developing arguments.

  1. What are some reasons why your side is right? Prioritize these reasons.
  2. What are some reasons why the other side is wrong? Use this to develop arguments or rebuttals
  3. What the problem that the GOV team should be trying to solve? In OPP – why is this not a problem or why is there a different solution? Why is your position on the problem more realistic, efficient, practical, successful than the other team? Often teams fail to compare why their solution is the best in addressing the problem.
  4. What is the principle that the gov team is defending? What is the principle the opposition team is defending? Why is this more important than the principle of the other team?

C) Argument Themes

These are themes that are usually discussed in debates.Use these themes to create or expand your arguments.

  1. Is there a principle to defend? Is there a principle you are diluting? Why is the principle you are defending more important than the one you are diluting?
  2. What is the direct benefit of what you are arguing? Are you creating a harm? Why are your benefits more than or more important than the harms?
  3. Compare short term and long term impacts – maybe there are different benefits/harms in the short and long term, or maybe there are short term losses but long term gains. Why is the latter (or former) more important?
  4. Is there a positive message to society? Could there a strong negative reaction (a backlash) from society?
  5. Is this the role of the government, school, corporation, student, child, woman, parents, church, religion etc? Why is it their role? If it not their role, then who's role is it?
  6. Look at stake holders involved – how does this impact children, teachers, women, foreigners, prisoners, companies, the poor/rich etc. Why is this impact important?
  7. Compare the domestic and international impacts

These are some examples of principles that are commonly used in debates. These are just samples, there are a lot more principles out there so don't limit yourself to these!

  • Choice
  • Freedom of expression/speech
  • Right to association
  • Protecting minorities
  • Bodily integrity
  • Harm Principle
  • Right to life