Format

Okay, so you’ve gotten this far and you want to debate, but how? In this debate tournament, we use a parliamentary style. This style involves two teams of three speakers, and it is a team effort!

A few minutes before the start of the debate, your team will be given proposition or opposition side of the topic. The proposition argues for the topic, and the opposition against. The proposition must establish the topic and give lots of evidence and reasoning to prove it. The opposition, however, must only refute the proposition team’s arguments and prove the topic wrong. Bringing up their own points is a bonus, and it can strengthen their rebuttals. Because the side you will be debating is not revealed before the tournament, you must prepare arguments both for and against the topic.

A briefing of the debate format is shown below:

  1. PROPOSITION 1ST SPEAKER
  • Define the topic
  • Lay out the arguments the team will be using
  • State their points and elaborate
  • State the roles of their following speakers
  • Speak for 5 minutes max
  1. OPPOSITION 1ST SPEAKER
  • Agree or disagree with the proposition team’s definition
  • Refute the proposition team’s points
  • Lay out the arguments the team will be using
  • State their points and elaborate
  • State the roles of their following speakers
  • Speak for 5 minutes max

The first speakers’ jobs are to introduce the topic and their arguments.

  1. PROPOSITION 2ND SPEAKER
  • Refute the opposition team’s points and refutations
  • State their points and elaborate
  • State the roles of their following speakers
  • Speak for 5 minutes max
  1. OPPOSITION 2ND SPEAKER
  • Refute the proposition team’s points and refutations
  • State their points and elaborate
  • State the roles of their following speakers
  • Speak for 5 minutes max

The second speakers’ key jobs are to refute the opposite team’s points.

  1. OPPOSITION 3RD SPEAKER
  • Wrap up the debate
  • Restate their team’s points and refutations
  • Refute all of the proposition team’s points
  • Speak for 3 minutes max
  1. PROPOSITION 3RD SPEAKER
  • Wrap up the debate
  • Restate their team’s points and refutations
  • Refute all of the opposition team’s points
  • Speak for 3 minutes max

Although it may seem like an easy job, the third speakers carry the bulk of the debate. Because they go last, they deliver the final impression on the judges—their speech is the prime factor in convincing their side correct. As proposition must establish the topic, they have the privilege of giving the last word.

Remember to take lots of notes during the debate! You will constantly have to bring up the opposite team’s points, and having notes to refer to is always a good idea.

How to Form an Argument

Debate is a layout of arguments. To make your arguments solid and to prove their validity, an argument should have a structure. ARE is a good structure if you’re just starting out and want something to organize your points.

A- Assertion

  • Declarative statement

R- Reasoning

  • Logic behind the argument; “because”

E- Evidence

  • Factual support; statistics, historical events, a court case, the Constitution, etc.

For example:

Topic: STEM education should be prioritized

A- STEM related jobs are increasing.

R- Technology is becoming more prevalent in everyday life, whether it’s crossing a bridge or pulling out your smartphone. Because STEM is used so much in this day and age, jobs involving it will also rise in demand.

E- STEM occupations are projected to grow by 17.0 percent from 2008 to 2018, compared to 9.8 percent growth for non-STEM occupations, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

 

Linking back to the topic is an important but often forgotten step in delivering an argument. Without connecting your point back to the original topic, it can be seen as irrelevant and meaningless in conjunction to the main topic and debate.

Ex: Because jobs in this field are increasing, schools should pay more attention to STEM related subjects. Therefore, STEM education should be prioritized.

Judging

In this debate, you will be judged on three Ms: matter, manner, and method.

  1. Matter
    • Content (your arguments, points, and refutations)
  2. Manner
    • Tone and body language with which you deliver your points
  3. Method
    • Organization—your procedure and structure

Contact Us

If this is your first time debating with this style, or even public speaking at all, this might seem like a lot to take inand that’s completely okay! The only way to learn to debate is to practice. If you don’t have anywhere to practice, don’t have any team members, or have questions, feel free to contact us at [email protected]. You’re also welcome to come to the ISB debate club on Fridays at 3:30pm. Thank you for reading, and we hope to see you at the tournament!