Ciera's Guide to Better Debate

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I've been debating for years with the NCFCA.  From the start, I loved the art of communication and formal argumentation.  However, I was never very successful at tournaments.  I excelled in the individual speech events but I never could manage to get past my 3-3 win record in debate.

Until this year.

If you're a new debater - or perhaps even an experienced debater - you will know how much work it can be to prepare for a tournament.  I found this year that I was doing a great deal of work - but the wrong kind of work.  Here are some tips that have really helped me achieve a higher level of success this year.

1) Actually prove or negate the resolution.  With this year's NCFCA debate resolution (Resolved: That governments have a moral obligation to assist other nations in need.) debaters are getting off track by not really proving the foundation of a moral obligation.  What constitutes an obligation based upon standards of morality?  Well, in order to find that out, you need to actually have a standard for morals.  Applications and examples will not win a round this year.

2) Know your philosophy.  You don't have to be a John Locke or Rousseau scholar to win this year.  However, you should have a pretty good basic understanding of moral philosophy.  I would recommend researching John Locke, Immanuel Kant and Ayn Rand for starters.  The key to this year is philosophy - then you can illustrate your points with applications and examples.

3) GET AWAY FROM THE PODIUM!!  Don't hide behind the podium when giving your speech, especially not your constructive.  It can become a "crutch" for debaters.  Stepping away will make you look more confident and will help you engage with your judge.

4) Memorize your case.  There's no reason why your cases should not be memorized, both Aff and Neg.  It will help you so much with connecting to your judge.  Just take the time to do it.

I hope this helps all of you debaters!

God Bless!

~Ciera Horton

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