Literacy Ideas

How to Write a Winning Debate Speech

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What is a Debating Speech?

A classroom debate involves students delivering persuasive speeches to present and support their opinions on a given subject. This activity helps develop critical thinking and communication skills, enabling students to gain a more comprehensive grasp of various topics.

Debating speeches are written according to a set of rules so a moderator can assess their effectiveness and provide an opportunity for others to question or challenge their statements within a formal debate.

A classroom debate is not an unruly fight or pointless argument but a structured formal conversation on a chosen topic in which two teams argue for or against in an attempt to convince the neutral moderator that they hold the stronger position.

Debating is a form of persuasive communication, and while we will be sticking to the fundamentals of how to write a debating speech, we also have a great guide to persuasive essay writing that elaborates on specific persuasive techniques.

Complete Teaching Unit on Class Debating

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This unit will guide your students to write excellent DEBATE SPEECHES and craft well-researched, constructed ARGU MENTS ready for critique from their classmates.

Furthermore, this EDITABLE UNIT will provide the TOOLS and STRATEGIES for running highly engaging CLASSROOM DEBATES.

How To Run A Classroom Debate

Before jumping in headfirst to write your debating speech, ensure you understand how a debate is run so that you can maximise your strategy and impact when it counts.

Debates occur in many different contexts, such as public meetings, election campaigns, legislative assemblies, and as entertainment on television shows. These contexts determine the specific structure the debate will follow.

This guide provides a basic step-by-step debate structure we can comfortably run with students in a classroom. By familiarizing students with this structure, they will effortlessly transition to other debate frameworks.

Running a classroom debate can be an engaging and educational activity that helps students develop critical thinking, communication, and research skills. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to organize and facilitate a successful classroom debate:

1. Choose a Topic For Your Debate.

Also called a resolution or a motion , the topic is sometimes chosen to debate. This is usually the case in a school activity to practice debating skills. 

The resolution or motion is usually centered around a true or false statement or a proposal to change the current situation. Often, the motion starts, ”This House believes that….”

Select a topic relevant to your curriculum and the students’ interests. Ensure that it is debatable and has multiple perspectives. Further down this article, you can find a list of popular classroom debating topics.

2. Form Two Debating 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. The better prepared and coordinated they are as a team, the greater their chances of success in the debate.

3. Assign Roles to Students.

Each team member should have a specific role, such as speaker, researcher , or rebuttal specialist . This encourages teamwork and ensures that each student is actively involved.

4. Research and Preparation:

  • Allocate time for teams to research and prepare their arguments. Encourage students to use multiple sources, including books, articles, and reputable websites. Make sure you read our complete guide to powerful student research strategies.

5. Set Debate Format:

  • Define the debate format, including the structure of each round. Common formats include opening statements, cross-examination, rebuttals, and closing statements.

6. Establish Rules:

  • Set ground rules for the debate, such as time limits for each speaker, etiquette, guidelines for respectful communication, and consequences for rule violations.

7. Conduct a Practice Debate:

  • Before the actual debate, conduct a practice round. This helps students become familiar with the format and allows you to provide feedback on their arguments and presentation skills.
  • On the day of the debate, set up the classroom to accommodate the format. Ensure that each round has a clear structure, and designate a timekeeper to keep the debate on schedule.

9. Facilitate Q&A Sessions:

  • After each team presents their arguments, allow time for questions and cross-examination. This encourages critical thinking and engagement among the students.

10. Evaluate and Debrief:

  • After the debate, provide constructive feedback to each team. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their arguments, presentation skills, and teamwork. Also, encourage students to reflect on what they learned from the experience.
  • Have a class discussion about the debate, exploring different perspectives and opinions. This can deepen students’ understanding of the topic and enhance their critical thinking skills.

Consider integrating the debate topic into future lessons or assignments. This reinforces the learning experience and allows students to delve deeper into the subject matter.

Remember to create a supportive and respectful environment throughout the debate, emphasizing the importance of listening to opposing views and engaging in constructive dialogue.

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.

Ensure your debate is held in front of an audience (in this case, the class), and occasionally, 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. 

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Download our Debate Organizer

Stay fousssed with this handy template to keep all your ideas organized.

How to Write a Debate Speech

In highly competitive speech and debate tournaments, students are only provided the topic on the day, and limited time is allowed for preparation, but this is not recommended for beginners.

Regardless of the stakes of your classroom debate the speech writing process always begins with research. Thorough research will provide students with both the arguments and the supporting evidence for their position on a topic and also generate forward-thinking about what their opponents might use against them.

Writing Your Introduction

The purpose of the introduction in a debate speech is to achieve several things:

  • Grab the attention of the audience,
  • Introduce the topic
  • Provide a thesis statement
  • Preview some of the main arguments.

Grab The Attention Of Your Audience With Strong Hooks

Securing the audience’s attention is crucial, and failure to do this will have a strong, negative impact on how the team’s efforts will be scored as a whole. Let’s explore three proven strategies to hook your audience and align their thinking to yours.

Introduce Your Topic With Efficiency and Effectiveness

Once the audience’s attention has been firmly grasped, it’s time to introduce the topic or the motion. This should be done straightforwardly and transparently to ensure the audience understands the topic of the debate and the position you are approaching it from.

For example, if the topic of the debate was school uniforms, the topic may be introduced with:

Provide Your Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is a concise declaration summarizing the points and arguments of your debating speech.

  • It presents a clear stance on a topic and guides the reader on what to expect in the content.
  • A good thesis statement is debatable and allows for opposing viewpoints and discussion.
  • It serves as a roadmap for the writer, ensuring coherence and focus in the piece.
  • It helps the audience understand the purpose and direction of the work from the beginning.

The thesis statement should express the student’s or the team’s position on the motion. Clearly explaining the speaker’s side of the debate. An example can be seen here.

Provide A Preview Of Your 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.

Examples of strong opening statements for a debate

Attention Grabbers Task

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 one best fits their chosen topic. Then, they can continue by completing the rest of the introduction for their speech using the format described above.

You might like to try a simple topic like “Homework should be banned.” you can choose from our collection further in this article.

Writing T he 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, and 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.

How to structure 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:

  • The Warrant

Following this structure carefully enables our students to build coherent and robust arguments. Ttake a look at these elements in action in the example below.

Brainstorming 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!

Concluding a Debate Speech

The conclusion of a speech or a debate is the final chance for the speaker to convey their message to the audience. In a formal debate that has a set time limit, the conclusion is crucial as it demonstrates the speaker’s ability to cover all their material within the given time frame.

Avoid introducing new information and focus on reinforcing the strength of your position for a compelling and memorable conclusion.

A good conclusion should refer back to the introduction and restate the main position of the speaker, followed by a summary of the key arguments presented. Finally, the speaker should end the speech with a powerful image that will leave a lasting impression on the audience and judges.

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Examples of strong debate Conclusions

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.

The Devils Advocate

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.

20 Great Debating Topics for Students

  • Should cell phones be allowed in schools?
  • Is climate change primarily caused by human activities?
  • Should the voting age be lowered to 16?
  • Is social media more harmful than beneficial to society?
  • Should genetically modified organisms (GMOs) be embraced or rejected?
  • Is the death penalty an effective crime deterrent?
  • Should schools implement mandatory drug testing for students?
  • Is animal testing necessary for scientific and medical advancements?
  • Should school uniforms be mandatory?
  • Is censorship justified in certain circumstances?
  • Should the use of performance-enhancing drugs be allowed in sports?
  • Is homeschooling more beneficial than traditional schooling?
  • Should the use of plastic bags be banned?
  • Is nuclear energy a viable solution to the world’s energy needs?
  • Should the government regulate the fast food industry?
  • Is social inequality a result of systemic factors or individual choices?
  • Should the consumption of meat be reduced for environmental reasons?
  • Is online learning more effective than traditional classroom learning?
  • Should the use of drones in warfare be banned?
  • Is the legalization of marijuana beneficial for society?

These topics cover a range of subjects and offer students the opportunity to engage in thought-provoking debates on relevant and impactful issues.


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Debating strategies for students.

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.

Debating Teaching Strategies

Clearly Define Debate Roles and Structure when running speech and debate events: Clearly define the roles of speakers, timekeepers, moderators, and audience members. Establish a structured format with specific time limits for speeches, rebuttals, and audience participation. This ensures a well-organized and engaging debate.

  • Provide Topic Selection and Preparation Time: Offer students a range of debate topics, allowing them to select a subject they are passionate about. Allocate ample time for research and preparation, encouraging students to gather evidence, develop strong arguments, and anticipate counterarguments.
  • Incorporate Scaffolded Debating Skills Practice: Before the actual debate, engage students in scaffolded activities that build their debating skills. This can include small group discussions, mock debates, or persuasive writing exercises. Provide feedback and guidance to help students refine their arguments and delivery.
  • Encourage Active Listening and Note-taking during speech and debate competitions: Emphasize the importance of active listening during the debate. Encourage students to take notes on key points, supporting evidence, and persuasive techniques used by speakers. This cultivates critical thinking skills and prepares them for thoughtful responses during rebuttals.
  • Facilitate Post-Debate Reflection and Discussion: After the debate, facilitate a reflection session where students can share their thoughts, lessons learned, and insights gained. Encourage them to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of their arguments and engage in constructive dialogue. This promotes metacognitive skills and encourages continuous improvement.

By following these tips, teachers can create a vibrant and educational debate experience for their students. Through structured preparation, active engagement, and reflective discussions, students develop valuable literacy and critical thinking skills that extend beyond the boundaries of the debate itself.


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Frantically Speaking

The Most Powerful Debate Speech Strategy And Topic Ideas

Hrideep barot.

  • Speech Topics

debate speech and topics

Welcome to the exciting world of debate speech and topics! Forget the fancy jargon; let’s talk about how debates aren’t just about winning arguments. Picture it as a journey where we explore ideas and connect. We’re not just tossing words around; we’re diving into the core of what makes us tick.

Think of debates as more than just convincing speeches. They’re like a doorway to understanding and connecting with people. It all begins with a strong start – our introduction. It’s not just about capturing attention; it’s about inviting everyone into a space where ideas clash and minds expand.

In this space, words aren’t just tools; they’re the architects of who we are becoming. Our journey is more than winning debates; it’s about developing critical thinking, becoming great communicators, and understanding each other better. So, let’s kick off this adventure together, where the magic of debate isn’t just in the words we say but in how they shape us along the way.

11 Greatest Debate Topics Of All Time.

  • How To Write a Debate Speech?

Ways In which Debate Helps Shape Overall Personality.

10 powerful debate strategies which can never go wrong. .

  •  Conclusion. 

1. The Existence of a Higher Power: God vs. Atheism

Theological Arguments: Explore philosophical and theological arguments for the existence of God, such as the cosmological, teleological, and moral arguments.

Scientific Perspectives: Consider scientific perspectives that challenge traditional religious beliefs, including evolutionary theory and the Big Bang theory.

Personal Beliefs: Discuss the role of personal experiences and beliefs in shaping one’s stance on the existence of a higher power.

2. Freedom of Speech vs. Hate Speech Laws

Importance of Free Expression: Discuss the fundamental value of free expression in a democratic society and its role in fostering diversity of thought.

Harm Principle: Explore the harm principle as a criterion for limiting speech and the ethical considerations in regulating hate speech.

Balancing Rights: Consider the challenges in striking a balance between protecting individual rights and preventing harm to marginalized communities.

3. Legalization of Recreational Drugs: Pros and Cons

Individual Liberty: Discuss the argument for individual liberty, asserting that adults should have the autonomy to make choices about their bodies.

Public Health Concerns: Explore the potential negative impacts of drug legalization on public health and societal well-being.

Economic Implications: Consider the economic implications, including potential tax revenue and job creation, associated with the legalization of recreational drugs.

4. Climate Change: Human-Made vs. Natural Causes

Scientific Consensus: Examine the overwhelming scientific consensus supporting the idea that human activities contribute significantly to climate change.

Skeptic Perspectives: Discuss skeptical views that challenge the extent of human impact on climate change, considering natural climate variations.

Policy Implications: Explore the policy implications of different perspectives, including the urgency for mitigation and adaptation measures.

5. Capital Punishment: Morality and Deterrence

Retribution and Justice: Discuss the concept of retribution and whether capital punishment serves as a just response to heinous crimes.

Deterrence Effect: Examine the debate over the deterrent effect of capital punishment on potential criminals.

Risk of Wrongful Execution: Consider the ethical implications of the potential for wrongful executions and the irreversible nature of the death penalty.

6. Immigration Policies: Open Borders vs. Strict Control

Economic Contributions: Discuss the economic benefits of immigration, including contributions to the labor force and entrepreneurship.

National Security Concerns: Explore concerns related to national security, public resources, and the potential strain on social services.

Humanitarian Considerations: Consider the moral and humanitarian aspects of providing refuge to those fleeing violence or seeking a better life.

7. Assisted Suicide: Right to Die vs. Sanctity of Life

Autonomy and Dignity: Discuss the principle of autonomy and an individual’s right to make decisions about their own life, including the choice of assisted suicide.

Ethical and Religious Perspectives: Examine ethical and religious perspectives that emphasize the sanctity of life and the moral implications of assisted suicide.

Legal Implications: Consider the legal frameworks and ethical guidelines surrounding assisted suicide in different jurisdictions.

8. Privacy in the Digital Age: Security vs. Individual Rights

Surveillance Technologies: Explore the capabilities and implications of modern surveillance technologies, including mass data collection and facial recognition.

National Security Justifications: Discuss arguments that support increased surveillance for national security purposes, especially in the context of preventing terrorism.

Individual Privacy Concerns: Examine concerns related to the erosion of individual privacy rights, data breaches, and the potential for abuse of surveillance powers.

9. Universal Basic Income: Reducing Inequality vs. Economic Sustainability

Poverty Alleviation: Discuss the potential of a universal basic income (UBI) to alleviate poverty and provide financial stability to all citizens.

Economic Viability: Explore concerns about the economic feasibility and sustainability of implementing UBI, including potential impacts on workforce participation.

Social and Economic Equity: Consider how UBI might address systemic inequalities and contribute to a more equitable distribution of resources.

10. Censorship in the Arts: Protecting Morality vs. Freedom of Expression

Artistic Freedom: Discuss the importance of artistic freedom as a form of expression and creativity.

Moral and Cultural Sensitivities: Explore the need for censorship to protect societal values, moral standards, and cultural sensitivities.

Role of Cultural Context: Consider how cultural context and shifting societal norms influence the boundaries of artistic expression.

11. Animal Testing: Scientific Advancement vs. Animal Rights

Scientific Progress: Discuss the contributions of animal testing to scientific and medical advancements, including the development of new treatments and pharmaceuticals.

Ethical Treatment of Animals: Examine the ethical considerations surrounding the use of animals in research, focusing on animal rights, welfare, and alternatives to testing.

Balancing Interests: Explore the challenge of balancing scientific progress with the ethical treatment of animals, seeking common ground that respects both human and animal interests.

These elaborations provide a more in-depth understanding of each controversial debate topic, touching on various perspectives, considerations, and implications associated with each issue. Each topic reflects a complex interplay of values, ethics, and practical considerations that make them enduring subjects of discussion and debate.

How To Write A Debate Speech ?

Introduction: grabbing attention.

Begin your debate speech with a captivating introduction to immediately capture the audience’s interest. Consider using a powerful quote, a relevant anecdote, or a surprising fact related to your topic. The goal is to create an immediate connection with your listeners and set the stage for the discussion that follows. Make it clear why the topic is important and worthy of their attention. You might also include a brief overview of the main points you will cover to provide a roadmap for your audience.

Thesis Statement: Clearly State Your Position

Craft a concise and compelling thesis statement that communicates your stance on the topic. This statement should serve as the central point around which your entire speech revolves. Take the opportunity to highlight the significance of your position and why it is the most rational or ethical perspective. Additionally, consider briefly acknowledging the existence of opposing views to demonstrate your awareness of the complexity of the issue.

Main Arguments: Develop Strong Points

For each main argument, delve into detailed explanations supported by robust evidence. This evidence could include relevant research findings, real-life examples, or historical precedents. Be sure to explain the logical connections between your points and the overall thesis. Use persuasive language to underscore the importance of each argument, making it clear why the audience should find your perspective compelling.

Addressing Counter Arguments: Anticipate and Refute

Demonstrate a thorough understanding of the opposing viewpoint by anticipating counterarguments. Acknowledge these counterarguments respectfully before providing well-reasoned and persuasive refutations. This not only strengthens your position but also shows intellectual honesty and a willingness to engage with diverse perspectives. Use facts, logic, and reasoning to effectively dismantle counterarguments, leaving your audience with a sense of the robustness of your position.

Emphasize Impact: Appeal to Emotions and Values

While presenting your arguments, strategically incorporate emotional appeals to resonate with your audience. Share relatable stories, connect your points to shared values, and use language that evokes an emotional response. This not only adds depth to your speech but also helps create a memorable and impactful impression. A balance between logic and emotion can make your arguments more persuasive and relatable.

Use Persuasive Language: Enhance Convincing Power

Employ a variety of rhetorical devices and persuasive language techniques to enhance the power of your speech. Metaphors, analogies, and vivid language can make complex ideas more accessible and memorable. Consider using repetition to emphasize key points and create a rhythmic flow in your speech. Aim for clarity and precision in your language to ensure that your audience easily grasps the nuances of your arguments.

Maintain Clarity and Organization: Structured Delivery

Organize your speech in a clear and logical structure to facilitate easy comprehension. Begin with a strong introduction, followed by a clear progression of main points. Use transitions between ideas to maintain coherence and guide your audience through the flow of your arguments. A well-structured speech not only aids understanding but also enhances the overall impact of your message.

Engage the Audience: Foster Connection

Encourage active engagement by incorporating rhetorical questions, interactive elements, or moments of audience participation. Foster a sense of connection by speaking directly to the concerns and interests of your listeners. Consider using relatable examples of anecdotes that resonate with the experiences of your audience. Engaging your listeners in this way can create a more dynamic and memorable speech.

Conclusion: Reinforce Your Message

In your conclusion, re-emphasize the key points of your speech and restate your thesis with conviction. Summarize the main arguments in a way that reinforces your overall message. Conclude with a powerful and memorable statement that leaves a lasting impression on your audience. Avoid introducing new information in the conclusion; instead, focus on leaving a strong and final impact that reinforces the significance of your position.

Q&A Preparation: Be Ready for Questions

Anticipate potential questions that may arise from your audience and prepare thoughtful and well-reasoned responses. Demonstrating a thorough understanding of your topic and the ability to address inquiries with confidence adds credibility to your overall presentation. Consider practicing responses to common questions to refine your ability to articulate your position effectively. During the Q&A session, maintain composure and be open to constructive dialogue, further showcasing your expertise and conviction.

Remember, the key to a successful debate speech lies not only in the strength of your arguments but also in your ability to connect with and persuade your audience. Regular practice, feedback, and a genuine passion for your topic will contribute to a compelling and influential presentation.

Check this out to learn about public speaking and debate differences. 

Critical Thinking Skills:

Engaging in debates cultivates critical thinking by training individuals to analyze information rigorously. Debaters learn to identify key arguments, evaluate evidence, and discern logical connections. This process enhances their ability to approach complex issues with a discerning and analytical mindset.

Effective Communication:

Debate serves as a powerful platform for honing effective communication skills. Participants develop the art of articulation, mastering the ability to express ideas clearly and persuasively. Regular exposure to public speaking opportunities not only boosts confidence but also refines the delivery of compelling messages.

Check this out to learn how to deliver a memorable speech:

Research and Information Retrieval:

Debates foster strong research skills as individuals delve into diverse topics, evaluate sources, and synthesize information effectively. This process not only enhances information literacy but also teaches valuable skills in data analysis and interpretation.

Empathy and Understanding:

The nature of debates, where participants engage with a variety of viewpoints, promotes empathy and a deeper understanding of different perspectives. Exposure to diverse opinions encourages individuals to appreciate cultural nuances and fosters a more inclusive worldview.

Conflict Resolution Skills:

Debates contribute to the development of conflict resolution skills by emphasizing constructive dialogue and negotiation. Participants learn to navigate differences of opinion, seek common ground, and work towards resolutions collaboratively.

Leadership Qualities:

Active participation in debates fosters leadership qualities such as confidence and initiative. Debaters often take charge of researching, organizing arguments, and leading team efforts, contributing to the development of effective leadership skills.

Time Management:

The time constraints inherent in debates teach individuals to prioritize information effectively. Participants learn to cover multiple points within a structured timeframe, enhancing their ability to manage time efficiently.

Check this out to learn how to ace a 2-minute speech:

Teamwork and Collaboration:

Debating frequently occurs in team settings, fostering teamwork and collaboration. Participants develop skills in effective communication within teams, resolving conflicts, and achieving collective goals.

Debate, as a structured and disciplined form of discourse, provides a platform for personal growth and the development of a well-rounded personality. It not only enhances cognitive and communication skills but also nurtures qualities such as empathy, adaptability, and ethical decision-making, contributing to the holistic development of individuals.

1. Solid Research And Preparation: The Foundation Of Success

In-Depth Understanding: Devote time to thoroughly understand the nuances of your chosen topic. Conduct extensive research to be well-informed on various aspects of the issue.

Counterargument Anticipation: Anticipate potential counterarguments that opponents might present. This allows you to proactively address opposing views and strengthen your position.

Factual Support: Arm yourself with concrete evidence, facts, and statistics. This not only bolsters your credibility but also adds weight to your arguments.

2. Clear And Concise Communication: Precision Matters

Clarity of Expression: Express your ideas in a straightforward and easy-to-understand manner. Avoid unnecessary complexity that might confuse the audience and dilute your message.

Key Message Emphasis: Emphasize key points with precision. Clearly articulate your thesis and ensure that each supporting argument aligns with and reinforces your central message.

Memorable Language: Use language that is both concise and memorable. Craft statements that leave a lasting impression, making it easier for the audience to recall your key arguments.

3. Active Listening: Addressing Counterarguments Effectively

Attentiveness: Actively listen to your opponents during the debate. Paying close attention allows you to respond effectively and demonstrate respect for differing viewpoints.

Acknowledgment of Valid Points: Acknowledge valid points made by the opposition. This not only showcases your fairness but also allows you to engage in a more constructive and nuanced debate.

Strategic Response: Respond thoughtfully to counterarguments. Be prepared to address opposing views with well-reasoned and compelling rebuttals.

4. Adaptability: Flexibility In The Face Of Challenges

Responsive Approach: Be prepared to adapt your strategy based on the flow of the debate. Flexibility allows you to navigate unexpected turns and respond effectively to evolving circumstances.

Open-Mindedness: Demonstrate an open-minded approach to new information. If presented with compelling evidence, be willing to adjust your stance accordingly.

Strategic Agility: Develop the ability to think on your feet and adjust your arguments and responses as the debate unfolds.

5. Emotional Intelligence: Connecting With Your Audience

Understanding Audience Emotions: Consider the emotions and values of your audience. Tailor your arguments to resonate with the experiences and concerns of the people you are addressing.

Emotional Appeals: Incorporate emotional appeals strategically. Connecting with the audience on an emotional level makes your arguments more relatable and persuasive.

Empathy in Communication: Use empathy to establish a genuine connection. Demonstrate an understanding of the perspectives and emotions of your audience.

6. Confidence And Body Language: Projecting Authority

Confident Posture: Maintain a confident and upright posture throughout the debate. Projecting confidence through body language contributes to your perceived authority.

Eye Contact: Make deliberate and consistent eye contact with the audience and opponents. This not only conveys confidence but also fosters a sense of connection.

Vocal Presence: Ensure a strong and clear vocal presence. Speak with conviction and avoid vocal patterns that may suggest uncertainty.

7. Strategic Use of Time: Maximize Impact

Time Allocation: Strategically allocate your time to cover all key points without rushing. Prioritize high-impact arguments and allocate sufficient time for their presentation.

Strategic Pauses: Use strategic pauses for emphasis. Pauses allow the audience to absorb your points and can add weight to your arguments.

Time Management Skills: Develop effective time management skills to ensure that your speech is well-paced and impactful.

8. Consistency in Messaging: Reinforce Your Core Points

Unified Message: Maintain consistency in your messaging throughout the debate. Reinforce your core arguments and thesis to create a cohesive and unified presentation.

Avoiding Contradictions: Be vigilant about avoiding contradictions in your arguments. Inconsistencies can weaken your overall position and undermine your credibility.

Repetition for Emphasis: Repetition can be used strategically to emphasize key points and ensure that your central message is reinforced.

9. Engage the Audience: Foster Connection and Interest

Relatable Examples: Connect with the audience by using relatable examples and anecdotes. Grounding your arguments in real-life situations makes your message more accessible.

Interactive Elements: Encourage audience engagement through rhetorical questions or interactive elements. Active participation fosters a sense of involvement and interest.

Addressing Audience Concerns: Speak directly to the concerns and interests of your audience. Tailor your arguments to resonate with the experiences and values of those you are addressing.

10. Grace Under Pressure: Navigate Challenges with Composure

Calm Demeanor: Remain calm and composed, especially when faced with challenging questions or counterarguments. A composed demeanor enhances your perceived competence and confidence.

Professionalism: Handle pressure with grace and professionalism. Maintain focus on the substance of your arguments rather than getting derailed by external pressures.

Effective Problem-Solving: Develop effective problem-solving skills to address unexpected challenges. Navigating pressure with composure demonstrates resilience and adaptability.

By incorporating these elaborated strategies into your debating approach, you can enhance your effectiveness, build credibility, and leave a lasting impression on your audience. Continuous practice and refinement will contribute to your growth as a skilled and persuasive debater.

In summary, the world of debate is a transformative journey that extends beyond the exchange of arguments. Crafting a debate speech is more than an exercise in persuasion; it’s an opportunity to refine our ability to connect with others. Exploring profound topics in debates prompts introspection and broadens our understanding of the world.

Powerful debate strategies go beyond winning; they teach us adaptability and the importance of emotional intelligence. It’s not just about presenting arguments; it’s about becoming individuals who can navigate life’s challenges with resilience and grace. Debate shapes our personality in multifaceted ways. It cultivates critical thinking, enhances communication skills, and instills empathy. Engaging with diverse perspectives fosters a more nuanced worldview, contributing to a well-rounded personality.

In essence, the debate is a dynamic and evolving process that leaves an unerasable mark on our character. It’s a journey that molds us into individuals capable of not only articulating ideas persuasively but also of connecting with others on a deeper level. Through debate, we become architects of our growth, equipped with the skills and perspectives needed to thrive in the ever-changing landscape of life.

Dive into this captivating resource! Uncover secrets, gain insights, and embark on a knowledge-packed journey. Your gateway to discovery awaits!

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Debate Writing

Debate Speech

Caleb S.

A Comprehensive Guide to Preparing and Delivering A Debate Speech

Published on: Mar 9, 2022

Last updated on: Jan 31, 2024

Debate Speech

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Whether you are a student, a policymaker, or a business leader, the ability to debate effectively can be a game-changer. 

Debate speeches are important for anyone wanting to persuade others. However, writing and delivering a debate speech isn’t easy, especially if you are new to the process. 

This guide explains simple steps on how to write and deliver an excellent debate speech. It covers everything from preparing your arguments to delivering your speech with confidence and conviction.

So dive in to learn!   

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What is a Debate Speech?

A debate speech is a structured argument on a specific topic that is presented in a formal setting.  

The main purpose of debate speech is to:  

  • Express your point of view persuasively and effectively
  • Convince the opposition that you are right.
  • Change the people’s point of view on a particular topic.

In a debate speech, the speaker presents their argument in a clear, concise, and convincing manner. Debate speeches have a set time limit, and the speaker must use their time effectively to make their case and address counterarguments. 

Preparing for a Debate Speech 

You can only win your debate if you have spent time preparing it well. Follow the steps below to be prepared for your next debate speech.

Understanding the Debate Format 

It's essential to understand the format of the debate in which you want to participate. Different debate formats have specific rules and guidelines that you need to follow to succeed. 

Some popular types of debates include parliamentary, Lincoln-Douglas, and policy debates.

  • Parliamentary debate is a format where two teams of two or three members argue for or against a motion. It is presided over by a moderator. In this format, debaters have limited preparation time to gather information and construct their arguments.
  • Lincoln-Douglas debate is a one-on-one debate where debaters argue for their positions on a specific topic. This format usually involves a value system and a criterion that the debaters must uphold and defend.
  • Policy debate is a format where two teams of two members argue for or against a specific policy proposal. This format requires in-depth research and analysis of the policy and its potential implications.

Selecting a Position

Choose a topic that you are passionate about and that you feel strongly about. Once you have chosen a topic, narrow it down to a specific aspect that you can argue for or against. 

The clearer your position, the easier it will be to research and prepare your arguments.

Need some good debate topic ideas to get started? Check out our list of interesting and engaging debate topics to help you out!

Researching and Gathering Information

Once you have selected your topic, research it thoroughly. Gather as much information as you can from credible sources such as academic journals, news articles, and government reports. 

Take detailed notes, and make sure to record the sources you use so that you can reference them later.

Understanding Both Sides of the Argument 

To write a persuasive debate speech, it is important to understand both sides of the argument. 

Consider the arguments that your opponents might make and anticipate counterarguments. This will help you to strengthen your own arguments and address potential weaknesses in your position.

Organizing Your Arguments 

Once you have gathered all of the information you need, organize your arguments in a clear and logical way. 

Start by outlining the main points you want to make and then add supporting evidence to each point. Make sure that your arguments flow logically and build on each other.

Practicing Your Delivery

Finally, practice your delivery. Read your speech out loud several times to get a feel for how it flows. 

Time yourself to make sure that you can fit all of your arguments into the allotted time. Consider practicing in front of a friend or family member to get feedback on your delivery.

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How to Present a Debate Speech?

This type of speech requires some essential components. Here are the major components you need to present an effective debate speech. 

1. Catchy Introduction

The first important step is starting the debate with a compelling introduction. You can begin with a question, a quote, or a statistic related to the topic.

Moreover, your introduction should state your stance on the topic and provides a preview of your arguments. 

2. State the Problem & Define Key Terms

Define key terms in your speech that are important to your argument. This helps to ensure that your audience understands the meaning of the words you use.

3. Present Your Arguments

Present your arguments in a clear and logical order. Start with your strongest argument and provide evidence to support it. Then, move on to the weaker arguments and provide evidence for each one.

A good argument often follows the PEE structure, which means “Point, Evidence, Explanation (PEE)”.

  • Point or Reason: This is where you state your main idea or argument, providing a concise and clear statement of your position. The point should be specific, focused, and relevant to the topic at hand. It serves as the foundation for your argument
  • Evidence: Here, you provide supporting evidence to bolster your argument. This can take the form of examples, statistics, or any other relevant information that helps illustrate your point. 
  • Explanation: In this part, you elaborate on how the evidence you provided supports your point. This is where you explain the relationship between your point and the evidence, highlighting its significance

4. Rebuttals 

Address counterarguments by acknowledging the opposing viewpoints and refuting them with evidence. This is called a rebuttal. 

It shows that you have considered both sides of the argument and strengthens your own position. Addressing counterarguments through rebuttals is a vital aspect of constructing a well-rounded and persuasive argument. 

Rebuttals involve presenting evidence that challenges the opposing counter-arguments and weakens their validity. Additionally, it is crucial to explain the flaws or fallacies in the opposing arguments during the process of rebuttal.

5. Conclusion

End your speech with a strong conclusion that summarizes your arguments and restates your stance on the topic. You can also end with a call to action, encouraging your audience to take action based on your argument.

Tips for Presenting a Debate Speech Effectively

The above steps will help you prepare and present an acceptable speech, but you can improve it even more with the tips below.

  • Use Clear and Concise Language

Speak clearly and use language that is easy to understand. Avoid using jargon or complex words that might confuse your audience.

  • Emphasize Key Points

Highlight the key points of your argument by using vocal inflection and tone. Emphasize important words or phrases to help your audience remember your key arguments.

  • Use Body Language and Gestures

Body language and gestures can help to reinforce your arguments and make your speech more engaging. Use hand gestures to emphasize key points, and vary your posture and movement to keep your audience interested.

  • Maintain Eye Contact

Maintain eye contact with your audience throughout your speech. This will help to establish a connection with them and make them feel more engaged with your argument.

  • Use Vocal Variety and Tone

Vary your vocal tone and pace to add interest and emphasis to your speech. Use pauses and changes in pace to emphasize important points, and vary your volume to make your arguments more impactful.

  • Use the Debate Speech Checklist

Here is a checklist that can help you evaluate your debate.

  • Does your speech cover your opinion about the topic?
  • Does your speech start with a catchy hook?
  • Does your speech cover all the main points?
  • Does your speech provide sufficient counterarguments?
  • Does your speech contain enough evidence?
  • Does your speech provide a call to action to the conclusion?

Debate Speech Examples 

Here are some examples to help you prepare and present your debate speech better. 

Debate Speech Structure

Debate Speech Template

Debate Speech Sample

Writing and delivering a successful debate speech requires careful planning, research, and effective communication skills. 

By following the steps and tips provided above, you can persuade your audience effectively and make a lasting impact. Remember to practice, rehearse, and be confident in your abilities. 

Still need expert help in writing your speech? We’ve got you covered! is here to assist you. We are an expert speech writing service with a team of experienced professionals. 

Our AI essay writing tools can help you at every step of the speech-writing process, from selecting a topic to gathering evidence.

We provide customized, high-quality writing services at an affordable price. You can also take advantage from our AI essay writer tool to improve your writing skills.

So why wait? Contact our professional essay writing service and impress your audience with an amazing speech!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 4 types of debate.

The four main types of debate are: 

  • Parliamentary Debate 
  • Lincoln-Douglas Debate 
  • Cross-Examination Debate 
  • Academic Debate 

What are the 2 sides of a debate called?

The opposition and proposition are the two sides of a debate. 

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Caleb S. has extensive experience in writing and holds a Masters from Oxford University. He takes great satisfaction in helping students exceed their academic goals. Caleb always puts the needs of his clients first and is dedicated to providing quality service.

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introduction to debate speeches

Debate Writing

Debate Speech

Cathy A.

Debate Speech - Ultimate Writing Guide for Students

debate speech

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Struggling to compose an impactful debate speech that captivates your audience and secures a win? 

You're not alone. Crafting a persuasive and well-structured debate speech is a challenge faced by numerous students. The process of articulating your thoughts, organizing arguments can be challenging.

However, fear not! This blog post is your comprehensive guide, presenting a step-by-step approach to empower you in constructing a debate speech. We’ve included examples and tips to make sure your speech captures attention and ensures a compelling and victorious performance.

So, keep reading.

Arrow Down

  • 1. What Is A Debate Speech?
  • 2. How To Prepare For Debate Speech?
  • 3. Debate Speech Examples for Students
  • 4. Tips for an Effective Debate Speech
  • 5. Debate Speech Topics

What Is A Debate Speech?

A debate speech is a formal presentation where you argue for or against a specific topic. 

It involves structured arguments presented in different sections, aiming to persuade the audience with facts and convincing points. It's a way of discussing and trying to show why your side is the right one on a particular subject.

Key Elements of A Debate Speech

A debate typically includes several essential elements to effectively communicate your position and persuade the audience. These elements form the building blocks of a strong debate speech:

  • Opening Statements: These kick off the debate, presenting the main arguments for your side or against the motion. It sets the tone for the discussion.
  • Rebuttals: In this stage, you respond to the arguments made by the opposing side, highlighting weaknesses or presenting counterpoints.
  • Summary: Towards the end of the debate, a summary is provided to reinforce your main arguments and explain why your perspective is stronger. This section aims to leave a lasting impression on the audience.
  • Use of Evidence: Supporting your arguments with evidence, facts, and examples strengthens your position and makes your speech more convincing.
  • Logical Reasoning: Presenting arguments in a clear, logical sequence enhances the coherence and persuasiveness of your speech.
  • Rhetorical Appeal: Adding appeals like ethos, pathos and logos to your speech can engage the audience, making your points more relatable and impactful.

How To Prepare For Debate Speech?

Creating a compelling debate speech requires a methodical approach that ensures a clear, convincing, and organized presentation. Let's delve into the detailed steps for an effective preparation:

Choosing a Position

Start by selecting a clear stance or position regarding the debate topic. Decide whether you are arguing for or against the motion. Understanding and committing to your position forms the foundation of your speech.

Conducting Thorough Research

Gathering information for your debate speech is really important. Look at different sources like books, reliable websites, and experts' ideas. 

Find facts, numbers, and real stories that support what you want to say. It's key to use strong and trusted information that backs up your side of the argument. 

When you collect different types of information, it makes your speech stronger and more convincing. This way, you'll be well-prepared to explain your ideas during the debate.

Structure The Key Points

After research and collecting points, organize your main arguments in a clear and logical manner to effectively convey your position in the debate. Set sufficient time to each key point to ensure they're adequately developed and presented. 

You can do this by following a debate format. Here is a standard debate speech format for a 20-15 minutes long debate:

How to Start a Debate Speech

Crafting a compelling opening for your speech involves capturing the audience's attention while introducing key points of discussion. 

You can achieve this by using attention-grabbing techniques such as sharing an eye-opening fact, a powerful quote, or a personal anecdote related to the topic. 

Additionally, it's beneficial to briefly outline the key areas of discussion that you'll cover in your speech. By providing a sneak peek of the main points, you offer the audience a roadmap of what's to come. 

This not only piques the audience's interest but also helps them anticipate and follow the structure of your speech.

Structure Your Arguments

Structuring arguments in the debate speech means organizing your ideas in a way that makes sense to others. 

A well-structured argument often uses the P-E-E format, which stands for Point, Evidence, Explanation (P-E-E):

  • Point or Reason: Begin by stating your main argument or reason. This is the central idea you want to convey in support of your position.
  • Evidence: Provide evidence, facts, or examples that support your point. This evidence should be reliable and back up what you're saying.
  • Explanation: Explain how your evidence supports your point. Make it clear to your audience why this evidence is important and how it links to your argument.

This structure helps make your arguments more persuasive and clear. It enables you to present your points effectively, support them with evidence, and explain why that evidence matters in the context of your argument.

Address Counterarguments (Rebuttals)

Addressing counterarguments involves anticipating the opposing viewpoints and crafting responses, known as rebuttals , within your speech. A rebuttal is a persuasive counter-argument that challenges or opposes the points raised by the other side.

By thinking ahead and having strong responses, you showcase a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. 

This approach makes your argument stronger and shows your skill in defending your position, boosting your speech's credibility.

How to End a Debate Speech

Concluding your debate speech effectively is as important as starting it strong. Here are two impactful ways to conclude your speech:

  • Summarize Key Points with a Call to Action Example: "In conclusion, the evidence overwhelmingly supports the idea that [your stance on the topic]. As we leave here today, let's not merely acknowledge the importance of [debate topic] but commit to [call to action], ensuring a brighter future for all."
  • End with a Powerful Quote or Statement Example: "As [relevant figure] once wisely said, '[insert impactful quote].' Let these words guide us in our understanding of [debate topic]. Together, we can [highlight the desired outcome or change]."

Review And Practice

The last step is to review and practice a lot. Read through your speech to make sure it all makes sense and fits the time limit. 

Practice how you talk, how fast or slow, and how you use your body while speaking. Also, be ready to answer questions or handle different arguments. 

Do a few final practice rounds to feel more confident and comfortable. This way, you'll be well-prepared and ready to deliver a strong debate speech.

Debate Speech Examples for Students

For students, understanding how to structure and present a debate speech is crucial. Here are some debate speech samples to help you grasp the basics of debating:

First Speaker Debate Speech Example

2nd Speaker Debate Speech Example

3rd Speaker Debate Speech Example

Short Example Of Debate Speech

Debate Speech Structure

Examples can serve as a great starting point. Check out more expertly crafted debate examples for inspiration!

Tips for an Effective Debate Speech

Crafting a persuasive and impactful debate speech requires careful consideration and strategic planning. Here are key tips to enhance the effectiveness of your presentation:

  • Tailor language to match the audience's demographics and interests.
  • Strengthen arguments with credible sources and diverse perspectives.
  • Organize with a clear introduction, well-developed body, and strong conclusion for a logical flow.
  • Capture attention with a compelling quote, question, or anecdote.
  • Support arguments with relevant statistics, examples, and real-world scenarios.
  • Anticipate opposing viewpoints and incorporate strong rebuttals.
  • Clearly articulate and repeat key ideas to reinforce your stance.
  • Maintain a dynamic and engaging delivery by varying tone and pace.
  • Pay attention to body language, eye contact, and gestures.
  • Allocate time wisely for each speech segment to ensure a well-paced presentation.
  • Be prepared to adapt to unexpected changes during the debate.
  • Practice multiple times to enhance clarity, emphasis, and pacing, boosting confidence.

Need to polish your debate? Have a look at this in-depth blog on debate techniques and get effective tips!

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.

Can’t pick a topic? Check out this extensive blog with multiple debate topics and get unique ideas!

You are now better equipped to confidently prepare and deliver your debate speech.

However, if public speaking isn’t your forte or it feels overwhelming, our professional essay writing service is here to help. 

Simply buy speech from our expert writers and receive a persuasive and effective piece of writing. Plus, with our satisfaction guarantee, you can get your speech revised as many times as you want. 

So, order now from our essay writing service and let us help you in delivering a winning speech.

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How to Begin a Debate

Last Updated: March 28, 2023 Fact Checked

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. There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 983,946 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

Step 1 Tell a captivating story.

  • Your story should capture the essence of your debate . It could explore, for example, the challenges you have faced in relation to the topic, how you overcame these challenges, and the lessons you learned.
  • For example, "As a person who suffers from seizures, medical marijuana was a saving grace. My family and I had to move across to the country in order for me to get treated, but it was worth the risk. My seizures decreased from five seizures a day to only one seizure per week."
  • Make sure that the story comes from your heart rather than your head. If you're just regurgitating a story from memory, it's not going to land with the audience.

Step 2 Ask a rhetorical question.

  • You can ask, for example, “Would you like to see a loved one suffer for no reason at all?”

Step 3 State a shocking statistic.

  • You can say, for example, “A billion tons of plastic are floating in the ocean right now. That is enough plastic to make an island the size of Hawaii.” Then, proceed to talk about the issue and explain to your audience why your resolution is the best one.

Step 4 Use a powerful quote.

  • For example, imagine you are giving a speech on why you think higher education is unnecessary for succeeding in life. You could open with, “Mark Twain once said, ‘Don’t let school interfere with your education.’”
  • Make sure that quote comes from your heart and feels authentic. It must speak to you and your audience while also making a point.

Step 5 Use a prop or a creative visual aid.

  • For example, if you are arguing that climate change is real, show a before and after picture of a glacier that has been affected by excessive amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Beginning the Debate

Step 1 Establish definitions.

  • Identify the key terms in your argument and look up their definitions in a range of dictionaries. Choose the most appropriate definition for each word. You want to pick a definition that is neutral and conventional.
  • Your definitions can be literal, as well as contextualized. Contextualized definitions add examples of how the concept applies to the real world. For example, a contextualized definition of money would show that money is used to buy services, such as food and gas.

Step 2 Summarize your position’s case.

  • For example, “My team and I will show you the need, practicality, and benefits of medicinal marijuana. Together we will show that thousands of patients, including young children, who suffer from seizures, find relief in medicinal marijuana. Studies show that medicinal marijuana reduces instances of seizures by 80%. Furthermore, the side effects of medicinal marijuana are not as severe as the side effects that come with conventional forms of medication used to treat seizures, particularly for children. We will show that medicinal marijuana is a practical, safe, and cost-effective solution for patients and their families.”

Step 3 Define a policy.

  • In order to demonstrate that your team's policy will work, use policies that have already been enacted as the basis of your policy. For example, you can highlight that a ban on using cellphones while driving is similar to the ban on drinking while driving.
  • Try to focus on three important reasons for why the policy is needed or needs to change. [7] X Trustworthy Source American Psychological Association Leading scientific and professional organization of licensed psychologists Go to source

Presenting the Debate

Step 1 Greet the audience.

  • Greet your audience by saying, “Good morning faculty and staff. The topic of today’s debate is student parking,” or “Good morning teachers and students. Thank you for taking the time to come to this debate. Today, the topic is student parking.”

Step 2 State what your side is arguing.

  • State what your side is arguing by saying, “We believe enrolled students should not have to pay for a parking pass to park on campus,” or “We believe enrolled students should pay for a parking pass to park on campus.”
  • Explain the speakers' roles by saying, “As the first speaker, I will be defining key terms and outlining our main argument. Our second speaker will explain the supporting reasons for our argument, and our third speaker will summarize our argument.”

Step 3 Make eye contact...

  • Remember to maintain eye contact with an audience at the end of a sentence.
  • Hold eye contact with an individual for only three to five seconds, then move on to someone else.
  • Practice holding eye contact with someone you know for a minute or two. Repeat the exercise 5 or 6 times—that will really help a lot.

Step 4 Speak slowly and...

  • Also, remember to take pauses. Pauses allow you to catch your breath and plan what you will say next. They also allow your audience to process what you have just said.

Debate Help

introduction to debate speeches

Expert Q&A

Lynn Kirkham

  • Give yourself a pep talk by looking at yourself in the mirror. Tell yourself that you're awesome, that you're a great speaker, that you believe in yourself, and that you appreciate yourself. Thanks Helpful 15 Not Helpful 3

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About This Article

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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introduction to debate speeches

Structure of a Debate Speech

Debate Speeches have 3 major parts: Introduction, Body, and Conclusion

Introduction  - The key is to make it clear what your case is

1. Preamble (optional) – A short (30 seconds max) story or statistic that frames  (i.e. gives the audience a certain mindset when thinking about) the resolution 

2A. If and only if you are the 1st Prop/PM - Define the resolution. You must define all of the terms and then paraphrase your definition. The definition should be clear and may not be unreasonable or a truism.

2B. If not PM – Briefly paraphrase the government definition but use exact quotes if, and only if, one of the terms is crucial to your argument. If the Opposition is going to challenge the definition — and it is usually a bad idea to do so unless it is undebatable — it must do so here and it can only do so if the 1st Opposition can show that the government definition is unreasonable or a truism. In that case the 1st Opposition redefines it and then argues against the redefined resolution.

3. Framing – Discuss the fundamental question in the debate, generalizing it if appropriate. The fundamental question is often of the form “How do we decide if …”  or  “ What is the basis for deciding if …“ Explain what the issues are and, if appropriate, what are not issues. Explain what is the debate about. Do not just state that you are going to argue in favour and they are going to argue against. As the opposition you may not want to accept the proposition/government’s framing of the debate, in which case you must put forward your own and explain why it is better.

Body  (RDA (Refute, Defend, Add))

1- Refutation (except for PM’s first speech) – This is usually done before presenting your constructive case but can be done after it. Go over all of your opponents’ reasons one by one (number them) and refute each one. If you are the 2nd opposition, attack both the 1st Prop points (if you have time and if any are still standing after your partner’s speech) and the 2nd Prop's points. The way to attack their reasons is to show that they are irrelevant or insufficient (i.e. even if true, they are not significant enough to prove the resolution) or questionable (i.e. they are not true or are unproven) or that they are outweighed by other factors. You can the SEER format, i.e. S tate their reason, E xplain why it is wrong. give E vidence/Example to illustrate it, and R eturn to the resolution as defined – show that they haven not proven what they must prove ) 

2- Constructive Case

A) Allocation – If you are the first speaker on your side, explain how you are going to divide the case between yourself and your partner. It is best to see if there is a way to divide the case into two general areas, e.g. practical and principle, cost and safety, individual and society, long term and short term.

B) Have two to three reasons backed by detailed evidence or examples. If you are the second speaker on your side, go over your partner’s points before getting to your own; DO NOT just state them but defend them and expand them or point out that the other side has not dealt with them, and then go on to your point(s). You can use the ARE format ( A ssertion - state your reason, R easoning - explain why your reason is true and why that matters for the resolution, and E vidence/Example - provide evidence and /or examples to illustrate your reason. Your side should have no more than four reasons and your partner should have at least one of those four. Number your reasons.

Conclude your speech with a summary of what your side (include your partner’s points if, and only if, they have already spoken) has said. If you have time, try to summarize each of your reasons as a single sentence or clause. You may want to then end by emphasizing your strongest point, challenging the opposition, or using a quote or memorable phrase

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10 Proven Tips: How to Write a Debate Speech in 2024

10 Proven Tips How to Write a Debate Speech in 2024

1. Introduction: The Importance of Writing a Debate Speech

1  introduction  the importance of writing a debate speech

Writing a debate speech is a crucial skill that can help you effectively communicate your ideas and persuade others to see your point of view. In 2024, with the increasing emphasis on public speaking and critical thinking, mastering the art of debate is more important than ever. Whether you are a student participating in a debate competition or an individual looking to improve your persuasive abilities, these 10 proven tips will guide you in crafting a powerful debate speech.

1.1 Why is writing a debate speech important?

Writing a debate speech is important because it allows you to organize your thoughts, present your arguments coherently, and engage your audience effectively. By carefully crafting your speech, you can convey your ideas in a clear and persuasive manner, increasing your chances of winning the debate or influencing others.

2. Understand the Debate Topic

2  understand the debate topic

Before you start writing your debate speech, it is crucial to thoroughly understand the topic at hand. Take the time to research and gather relevant information, statistics, and examples that support your position. This will enable you to present a well-informed and compelling argument.

2.1 How to research the debate topic effectively?

When researching the debate topic, start by consulting reputable sources such as academic journals, books, and reliable websites. Take notes on key points, arguments, and evidence that support your position. Additionally, consider exploring different perspectives to anticipate counterarguments and strengthen your own arguments.

3. Structure Your Debate Speech

3  structure your debate speech

A well-structured debate speech is essential for effectively conveying your arguments and maintaining your audience's attention. Follow a clear and logical structure that includes an introduction, body, and conclusion.

3.1 Introduction

In the introduction of your debate speech, grab your audience's attention with a compelling opening statement or a thought-provoking question. Clearly state your position on the topic and provide a brief overview of the main arguments you will be presenting.

4. Craft Powerful Arguments

4  craft powerful arguments

The heart of your debate speech lies in the arguments you present. Develop strong and persuasive arguments that are supported by evidence, logic, and reasoning. Use the following tips to craft powerful arguments:

4.1 Use evidence to support your arguments

Back up your arguments with credible evidence such as statistics, research findings , expert opinions, and real-life examples. This will make your arguments more convincing and strengthen your overall position.

5. Use Persuasive Language and Rhetorical Devices

5  use persuasive language and rhetorical devices

Using persuasive language and rhetorical devices can enhance the impact of your debate speech. Employ the following techniques to captivate your audience and make your arguments more compelling:

Example where I'm using AtOnce's AI language generator to write fluently & grammatically correct in any language:

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5.1 Use emotional appeals

Appeal to your audience's emotions by using vivid language, personal anecdotes, and stories that evoke empathy or sympathy. This can help create a stronger connection between your arguments and your audience, making them more likely to be persuaded.

6. Anticipate Counterarguments

6  anticipate counterarguments

Anticipating counterarguments is a crucial aspect of writing a debate speech. By considering opposing viewpoints and addressing potential objections, you can strengthen your own arguments and demonstrate your ability to think critically.

6.1 Address counterarguments effectively

When addressing counterarguments, acknowledge the opposing viewpoint and provide a well-reasoned response. Refute the counterarguments with evidence, logical reasoning, and examples that support your position. This will demonstrate your ability to engage in a fair and balanced debate.

7. Use Effective Transitions

7  use effective transitions

Using effective transitions in your debate speech is essential for maintaining a smooth flow and guiding your audience through your arguments. Transition words and phrases can help you connect ideas, introduce new points, and summarize key arguments.

7.1 Examples of effective transitions

Some examples of effective transitions include "Furthermore," "In addition," "On the other hand," "In conclusion," and "To summarize." These transitions help signal to your audience the relationship between different ideas and ensure that your speech is coherent and easy to follow.

8. Practice and Rehearse

8  practice and rehearse

Practice and rehearsal are crucial steps in preparing for a debate speech. By practicing your speech multiple times, you can refine your delivery, improve your timing, and gain confidence in presenting your arguments.

8.1 Tips for effective practice and rehearsal

When practicing your debate speech, consider recording yourself to identify areas for improvement. Pay attention to your body language, tone of voice, and overall presentation. Additionally, seek feedback from others and make necessary adjustments to enhance the effectiveness of your speech.

9. Seek Feedback and Learn from Others

9  seek feedback and learn from others

Seeking feedback from others is an invaluable way to improve your debate speech. Whether it's from your peers, teachers, or debate coaches, constructive criticism can help you identify areas of improvement and refine your arguments.

9.1 How to effectively seek feedback

When seeking feedback, be open-minded and receptive to suggestions. Ask specific questions about your delivery, arguments, and overall presentation. Take notes on the feedback you receive and use it to make necessary adjustments to your debate speech.

Writing a debate speech in 2024 requires careful planning, research, and persuasive techniques. By following these 10 proven tips, you can craft a powerful and compelling debate speech that effectively communicates your ideas and influences others. Remember to thoroughly understand the debate topic, structure your speech, craft powerful arguments, use persuasive language, anticipate counterarguments, use effective transitions, practice and rehearse, and seek feedback. With these skills and strategies, you will be well-equipped to excel in any debate setting.

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What is the structure of a debate speech?

A debate speech typically consists of an introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction should grab the audience's attention and clearly state your position. The body should present your arguments and provide evidence to support them. The conclusion should summarize your main points and leave a lasting impression.

How do I choose my arguments for a debate speech?

When choosing arguments for a debate speech, consider the topic and your position. Brainstorm potential arguments and select the strongest ones that are supported by evidence. It's important to choose arguments that are logical, persuasive, and relevant to the topic at hand.

How can I make my debate speech more persuasive?

To make your debate speech more persuasive, use strong and compelling language. Present your arguments confidently and back them up with credible evidence. Use rhetorical devices such as repetition, analogy, and emotional appeals to engage the audience and make your speech more memorable.

Asim Akhtar

Asim Akhtar

Asim is the CEO & founder of AtOnce. After 5 years of marketing & customer service experience, he's now using Artificial Intelligence to save people time.

The Practice Space

Leaders That Listen Public Speaking Curriculum

Debate guide.


Debate is an engaging and rigorous way to explore issues that directly impact society -- it also trains your brain to listen carefully, which is important for leaders! When done well, debate can be used to develop empathy, perspective-taking, and productive conflict by teaching people how to navigate difference and interrogate ideas (as opposed to personal attacks). This toolkit is an introduction to debate protocols and argumentation skills, as well as how to judge debate, how to run a debate practice, and even how to start a debate team. Whether you are involved in formal debate, these resources can help you improve your spontaneous speaking and ability to persuade an audience!

Categories legend.


Resource 1: Debate: Listening Like a Leader

This essay discusses how debate can be used to develop empathy and promote listening.

introduction to debate speeches

Resource 2: Using Debate to Navigate Difference

This essay discusses why debate can be exclusionary and inaccessible, unless taught using inclusive methods to navigate difference.

introduction to debate speeches

Resource 3: Debate Team Stories: Memories from the Author

The author shares experiences helping a middle school student create a debate team to address issues of diversity and equity.

Resource 4: Getting Debate Started: For Educators and Facilitators

This one-pager contains 6 personal checkpoints for helping people improve their debate skills.

Resource 5: Getting Debate Started: For Speakers

This one-pager contains 6 personal checkpoints to help speakers prioritize key skills to develop in debate.

Resource 6: Getting Debate Started: For Listeners

This one-pager contains 6 personal checkpoints to help people provide better feedback to help debaters improve.

introduction to debate speeches

Resource 7: Designing Debates

Use this resource to create different debate formats utilizing six common protocol elements.

introduction to debate speeches

Resource 8: Structuring Arguments on the Spot

These tips guide how to analyze topics, outline arguments, diversify arguments, and generate sufficient offense and defense.

Resource 9: Tips for Anticipating and Responding to Arguments

Use this resource to respond to arguments in a debate in a clear, well-organized manner.

Resource 10: The Art of Synthesis and Summary

Use these tips to practice strong closing speeches that summarize key points in a passionate, compelling way.

introduction to debate speeches

Resource 11: Parliamentary Debate Format

This resource covers the basics of a spontaneous debate format modeled after British parliamentary procedure.

Resource 12: Moral Judgment Debate Format

This resource covers a classroom method for discussing and debating philosophical questions.

introduction to debate speeches

Resource 13: Debate Skill Drills and Warm-Ups

These 8 short activities can be used as drills and warm-ups to focus on specific skills used in debate.

Resource 14: Activity Examples: SPAR and Extemporaneous Panels

Practice argumentation skills through standards-based activities using these protocols for panels and mini-debates.

Resource 15: Class Project: Debate Scrimmages Assignment Sheet

This assignment sheet describes how to run a culminating debate “tournament” to assess debate skills.

introduction to debate speeches

Resource 16: Debate Rubric for Outside Judges

This instruction sheet and example ballot can be used for guest judges for a debate tournament.

Resource 17: Community Change Idea: Creating a Debate Team

This extensive checklist outlines what is required to start a debate team.

introduction to debate speeches

Resource 18: Project Sketcher

This planning tool and calendar help organize public speaking project goals and prioritize specific skills and milestones.


Improve your practice.

Enhance your soft skills with a range of award-winning courses.

Complete Guide to Debating: How to Improve your Debating Skills

August 1, 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:

  • Allowing you to think about aspects and perspectives you may not have considered.
  • Encourages you to speak strategically.
  • Improving  public speaking skills .
  • Learning how to create a persuasive argument.
  • When you have to argue against your personal view you realise that there are two sides to the argument.

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:

  • A topic is chosen for each debate – this is called a resolution or motion. It can be a statement, policy or idea. The motion is usually a policy which changes the current state of affairs or a statement which is either truth or false. The motion typically starts with “This House…”
  • The Affirmative team support the statement
  • The Negative team oppose the statement
  • Sometimes you will be asked to take a position in the debate but in other debates you will be allocated your position.
  • Teams are provided with time to prepare – usually one hour
  • Each speaker presents for a set amount of time
  • Speakers alternate between the teams, usually a speaker in the Affirmative team starts, followed by a Negative speaker, then the second Affirmative speaker presents, followed by the second Negative speaker etc.
  • The debate is then judged.
  • There may be an audience present but they are not involved in the debate

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

Roles of the speakers

Each speaker must typically do the following:

First Affirmative

  • Contextualise the debate – clearly set out your team’s interpretation of the topic and the significant issues they disagree with.
  • Provide definitions if necessary.
  • Outline the team line and the team split – this is where you outline your team’s case and summarise the way your arguments have been divided between your speakers.
  • Provide 2-3 arguments supporting the motion.

First Negative

  • Clearly state your definition
  • Provide your arguments as to why this is the superior definition
  • Rebut the Affirmative’s arguments supporting their definition
  • Outline a team line and team split.
  • Rebut the arguments made by the First Affirmative.
  • Deliver 2-3 arguments against the motion.

Second Affirmative

  • If needed, resolve any definitional issues.
  • Rebut the First Negative’s arguments.
  • Deliver 2-3 arguments supporting the motion.

Second Negative

  • Rebut the arguments made by the Affirmative team up to this point, with a focus on the Second Affirmative’s arguments.

Third Affirmative

  • Rebut specific issues raised by Second Negative and defend any other important attacks on your team’s case.
  • Conclude your speech with a brief summary (1-2 minutes) of your team’s case. You should include the key issues which you and the Negative team disagreed on during this.
  • You can introduce new material but this is interpreted as poor team planning.

Third Negative

  • This is the same structure as the Third Affirmative.

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.

  • Look at the context and see if there has been a recent significant event related to either topics – the media is the best place to look.
  • Then apply second test – which definition will lead to the best debate, which will be more interesting and debatable?

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.

Learn more about using  AI to practice your debating skills .

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:

  • Claim  – present your argument in a clear statement. This claim is one reason why you’re in favour of/against the motion.
  • Evidence  – the evidence supporting your claim, such as, statistics, references, quotes, analogies etc.
  • Impact  – explain the significance of the evidence – how does this support your claim?

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:

  • Content / Matter  – What the debaters say, their arguments and evidence, the relevance of their arguments.
  • Style / Manner  – How the debaters speak, including the language and tone used.
  • Strategy / Method  – The structure of the speech, the clarity and responding to other’s arguments.

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:

  • You points must be relevant to the topic.
  • Provide evidence whenever you can and not your personal opinion.
  • You must put aside your personal views and remain objective when you debate so your argument remains logical. You can be passionate about a topic but interest can turn into aggression and passion can turn into upset.
  • Consider the audience’s attention span – make it interesting, for example, don’t just present lots of complicated statistics.
  • Ethos – the ethical appeal
  • Pathos – the emotional appeal
  • Logos – the logical appeal
  • Use notes but keep them brief and well organised. Use a different piece of paper for rebuttals.
  • Similar to looking at conclusions to create rebuttals, think comparatively by asking yourself “How does my plan compare to what’s happening now/what would happen in the world if the other team won?” You can win the debate if you can make comparative claims about why your arguments matter more than the other team.
  • Only tell jokes if you’re naturally good at it otherwise this can backfire.
  • Flexibility is important because you might get allocated the side of the argument you don’t agree with. You’ll have to work hard to overcome your views. Also use this insight to think of the potential arguments you might make and then plan for counter arguments.
  • Speak clearly and concisely.
  • You must talk fast enough to have the time to deliver your speech but slow enough so you can be understood.
  • Project your voice to the back of the room.
  • Incorporate dramatic pauses.
  • Emphasise important words and vary your tone appropriately.
  • Have a relaxed pose and posture.
  • Avoid filler words.
  • Know your material.
  • Emphasise using gestures and avoid nervous gestures.
  • Maintain eye contact with the audience.
  • Keep your language simple to avoid confusion.
  • Refer to the opposite side as: “My opponent”.
  • When making a rebuttal say: “My opponent said…, however…”
  • Don’t exaggerate – avoid the words “never” or “always” etc.
  • Avoid saying that a speaker “is wrong”, instead say that “your idea is mistaken”.

What to avoid

  • Falsifying, making up or altering evidence.
  • Publicly disagreeing with the judges’ decision.
  • Attacking a speaker rather than an idea.
  • Acting aggressively or offensively towards debaters, judges, audience etc.
  • Interrupting other debaters as this can suggest that your argument isn’t very strong.
  • Disagreeing with facts or obvious truths.

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:

  • Is animal experimentation justified?
  • Should we legalise the possession of cannabis for medicinal use?
  • Should we recognise Bitcoin as a legal currency?
  • Is torture acceptable when used for national security?
  • Should mobile phones be banned until a certain age?
  • Does technology make us more lonely?
  • Should guns be banned in the U.S.?
  • Should we make internet companies liable for illegal content shared on their platforms?
  • Will posting students’ grades publicly motivate them to perform better?
  • Should animals be used for scientific testing?
  • Do violent video games make people more violent?
  • Should the death penalty be stopped completely?
  • Should smoking in public places be completely banned?
  • Should doping be allowed in professional sports?
  • Should all zoos be closed?
  • Should consumers must take responsibility for the plastic waste crisis?
  • Is euthanasia justified?
  • Is the boarding school system beneficial to children?

Debate topics for children

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

  • Should mobile phones be allowed at school?
  • Is global warming a problem?
  • Should violent video games be banned?
  • Is school detention beneficial?
  • Are celebrities good role models?
  • Does social networking have a beneficial effect on society?
  • Are single sex schools more effective than co-ed schools?
  • Do celebrities get away with more crime than non-celebrities?
  • Is cloning animals ethical?
  • Are humans to blame for certain animal extinctions?

Debating societies

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

  • Most universities have a debating society and their webpages usually contain lots of useful information and tips.
  • Toastmasters
  • Use Meetup to find debates close to you

Specific to the UK:

  • Sylvans Debating Club
  • The Association of Speakers Clubs

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

  • Researching Debate Speech Topic
  • Investigating The Debate Speech Argument
  • Writing the Introduction
  • Researching Supporting Facts
  • Ask for Introduction Review
  • Giving the Debate Introduction

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.

  • 1 Seattle Pi: How to Write a Good Argumentative Essay Introduction
  • 2 University of Maryland University College: Writing Arguments

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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Ohio University Speech and Debate Team named National Champion

Speech and Debate

Ohio University’s Speech and Debate Team is preparing for its next national competition after being named National Champion in Individual Events (Speech events) at Pi Kappa Delta Nationals in Phoenix, AZ on March 11. The team also placed 13 th in Debate Sweepstakes and 2 nd Overall in Combined Sweepstakes (Speech and Debate).

“It’s amazing,”  Jennifer Talbert, the John A. Cassese Director of Forensics, said. “It’s been a long time since Ohio University’s Speech and Debate Team was a national champion. This is another sign of resurgence for us.” 

The Speech and Debate team competes each year from September through April, providing the opportunity for students to meet outstanding undergraduates from 300 or more colleges or universities in intellectual competition. Approximately 20 tournaments at other schools and several held on the Athens campus enable students to develop skills in debate, extemporaneous speaking, oratory, rhetorical criticism, and oral interpretation. The group is made up of students from many different majors. About a third of the team members are communication majors.

Emily Osborne

Emily Osborne, a sophomore from Cleveland who is a child and family studies major in the College of Health Sciences and Professions, won First Place National Champion in the Informative Speaking category. Her winning speech was about the negative impact of using diagnostic medical terms incorrectly in casual conversation.

“People misuse many diagnostic terms. Examples include the words ‘gaslighting’ and ‘traumatized’ or ‘traumatic.’ They use them in casual ways that are not ways the word was intended,” said Osborne. “The main takeaway in my speech is that therapy speak blurs a line between empathy and manipulation. In some cases, people manipulate someone by using a big fancy diagnostic word to describe their situation. And because of that, it desensitizes people to the word. So, when people are gaslit or traumatized, they don’t realize it because the word has been used to describe smaller events or emotions.”

Osborne participated with her high school speech and debate team so continuing with speech and debate at Ohio University just made sense to her. She has enjoyed the support and growth she has received through working with Talbert and the different students she has met through the program.

“It’s been awesome. It is so different from anything I’ve ever done. It is so diverse,” said Osborne. “There are so many opportunities. I really just love to try different events and see what I can talk about and share my passions. I love the team. Everyone on it is awesome. We have a lot of fun.”

“I’m incredibly proud of Emily. She’s only a sophomore,” said Talbert. “I think that she really has been able to find her voice, not only through informative speech, but through her other events. It’s always great to see someone who invests and puts in the time and energy to be able to reap those rewards.”

Talbert has been coaching the Ohio University team for the last six years but has been coaching speech and debate for a total of 25 years. There are about 25 students on the team, and they compete against 80 to 100 other students in each event.

“Speech and debate teaches such a unique skillset. It teaches students how to speak in public, which I think is so vital. I want students to be good civic citizens and be able to speak up for themselves and voice their opinions. But it also teaches research skills, writing, critical thinking, how to get along with other people, how to get along with a group, and how to dress professionally,” Talbert added. “It also teaches them to take criticism. There is an opportunity to flourish and win, but you don’t always win. It teaches how to lose in a safe environment.”

Osborne says she already sees the positive impact of speech and debate in her day-to-day life and how it’s going to help her in her future career. She plans to become a child life specialist. Child life specialists are pediatric health care professionals who work with children and families in hospitals and other settings to help them cope with the challenges of hospitalization, illness, and disability.

“Anything I do with presentations and interviews, I’ve seen a big improvement,” said Osborne. “With Child and Family studies, speech and debate is helping me learn a lot of different perspectives. I hear others speak and make arguments about their passions and I become more well-rounded as a person. It helps me understand more about who I am going to be working with in the field and what they are going through.”

Osborne also appreciates the coaching and support she has received from Talbert. She says Talbert’s guidance and commitment helped her become the national champion.

“Jen has been a huge help,” said Osborne. “She helped me learn to pick topics and stories that are important to me and that I care about. It has been a huge difference. Jen pushed me in the right direction.”

“Emily and I did research together and went through a bunch of edits of her speech,” said Talbert. “My coaching role is the equivalent of private lessons for an instrument. She came in and delivered the speech. I listened and gave her feedback and then she did it again.”

Osborne and her teammates will seek the national champion title again during their next tournament which begins on April 18.

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The Debate Over Free Speech, Disinformation and Censorship

More from our inbox:, senator ted cruz responds, talking to children about cancer, why we keep our landlines, internet access.

introduction to debate speeches

To the Editor:

Re “ Trump Allies Are Winning War Over Disinformation ” (front page, March 17):

The U.S. Supreme Court put limits on free speech, saying you can’t falsely shout “fire” in a crowded theater. Fundamental to our democracy is an informed electorate. Yet our courts seem to be OK with a flood of lies and propaganda masquerading as news and aimed at burning down our democracy.

This should concern every American for several reasons, including the surge of social media sites that contain much misinformation, the closure of many local newspapers, a decline in the number of real journalists, and an increase in the amount of misinformation spread by adversaries like Russia and China in an attempt to affect the outcome of our elections.

Richard Dickinson Richmond Hill, Ga.

In the same way that semiautomatic guns and bump stocks were never foreseen by the founding fathers when establishing the Second Amendment, social media and A.I. escaped their prescience when it came to issues of free speech.

The commerce of ideas as they addressed it consisted primarily of public discourse via the printed or spoken word at social, political and religious gatherings. The idea that citizens would someday own portable electronic devices that facilitated both the easy manufacture and distribution of subjective realities certainly surpassed anything imagined in the Sedition Act.

America must now address two pressing questions that Madison, Hamilton and others were spared. How do we prevent the yelling of “fire” in a crowded theater when there is neither an actual theater nor an assembled crowd? And how do we stop domestic and foreign profiteers who would embrace the resultant turmoil?

Anthony Nannetti Philadelphia

There is a difference between supporting the First Amendment and hiding behind it. A presidential campaign that uses disinformation to subvert a fair and legal election is undermining the very democracy for which free speech is a bulwark.

Louis Greenstein Pleasantville, N.J.

A Supreme Court decision preventing the Biden administration from deciding what can and cannot be said on social media would also prevent a potential future Trump administration from deciding what can and cannot be said on social media.

Ronald J. DeFelice Irvine, Calif.

Re “ An Islamophobic Smear Campaign Is Dividing Democrats ,” by Lydia Polgreen (column, March 21):

Ms. Polgreen blames Islamophobia for Adeel Abdullah Mangi’s difficulty in getting confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and she accuses me of conducting “bad faith ambushes” because I asked Mr. Mangi during a Senate Judiciary hearing if he condemns Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

The reason I asked Mr. Mangi this question — which Ms. Polgreen fails to mention — is that Mr. Mangi has refused to denounce statements by the director of Rutgers’s Law School Center for Security, Race and Rights in which the director referred to Israel as an “occupying force” and accused Israel of engaging in “settler colonialism.” Mr. Mangi donated to the center and served for years on its board of advisers.

Ms. Polgreen also fails to note that the Senate confirmed another nominee, Zahid Quraishi, who, like Mr. Mangi, is Muslim and Pakistani American, with 81 votes — one of the highest vote totals for any judicial nominee of the Biden presidency.

The White House and Senate Democrats don’t want to defend Mr. Mangi on the merits of his record, so they instead accuse his critics of Islamophobia. That is a shameful attack.

Ted Cruz Houston The writer is a Republican senator from Texas.

Re “ How to Talk to Children About Cancer ,” by Talya Minsberg (Live,, March 22):

We were saddened to learn that Catherine, Princess of Wales, has been diagnosed with cancer. Our thoughts as therapists immediately turned to her children and the challenge of having difficult conversations. We agree with Ms. Minsberg’s recommendations.

No one can provide better care than a parent as their child experiences emotional trials. Illness is inevitable, and caring for a child through a family illness is an inevitable part of parenting. This affects the parent, too, but they can be most effective in helping a child by attending to their own feelings first; then they can fully focus on their child’s needs.

We believe that being honest with a child is always best. Tell the truth, but only the amount that a child can hear and digest at any given moment. Take the lead from what a child asks, making sure the tone and the answer align with where a child is. This conversation is an ongoing one that will be elaborated on over time.

We believe that the best antidote to the fear and pain of loss is togetherness. As Catherine said : “Please do not lose faith or hope. You are not alone.”

Elena Lister Michael Schwartzman New York The writers, a psychiatrist and a psychologist, respectively, are co-authors of “Giving Hope: Conversations With Children About Illness, Death and Loss.”

Re “ Speaking Out for Landlines in Digital Age ” (front page, March 17):

My wife and I are on the high side of 65, and we pay for a landline only as a lifeline as we deal with the never-ending onslaught of power outages wrought by National Grid in Massachusetts, some as long as 10 days in our years here.

We also live in a mobile phone dead zone. So our mobile phones must depend on internet Wi-Fi for all calls. When the electricity goes out, so does the internet, hence our lifeline to the outside world in times of crisis.

We plug in two touch-tone phones to replace cordless phones when there is no juice from National Grid. Whether AT&T, Verizon and others like it or not, plain old telephone service (POTS) is as close to 100 percent reliable as you can get. But now they want to tear out the copper, forcing us to unreliable telephone service.

Ben Myers Harvard, Mass.

You’ll have to pry my landline phone from my cold, dead hands.

I find it absolutely ridiculous and user-unfriendly to hold a screen to my ear, as well as to then hold the phone back where I can see the screen in order to find the keypad, while missing the spoken conversation.

Claire Albahae Brewster, N.Y.

Re “ Millions Are Set to Lose Internet Access Subsidies ” (news article, March 24):

During our history, Americans brought mail service, electrification and telephone service to all corners of the country. Why the lessons learned from these experiences can’t be used to solve the challenge of similarly providing residential internet access coast to coast as well is a damning indictment of our broken national politics.

Gary Rucinski Newton, Mass.

Millions blocked from porn sites as free speech, child safety debate rages across US

Corrections and clarifications: An earlier version of this story misstated when Texas passed HB 1181, an age-verification law. It passed in June 2023.

A high-stakes battle over pornography, child safety and free speech is heating up across the nation, with more than a half-dozen states passing age-verification laws aimed at halting minors from accessing Pornhub and other adult web sites.

Texas is among seven states to pass some form of the controversial legislation, which effectively blocks millions of adult video enthusiasts from entering Pornhub’s site unless they can prove they are at least 18 years old.

Attorneys and advocates for porn sites argue that the laws are not just prohibiting minors, but adults, too. Pornhub says it had no choice but "to completely disable access to our website in Texas" in order to reduce the risk of hefty fines and penalties.

In addition to Texas, Pornhub has reluctantly blocked site access for people in other states with age-verification laws, including Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Utah and Virginia.

“We are fighting not only for the rights of our members and the larger adult entertainment community, but for the right of all Americans to access constitutionally protected expression in the privacy of their own home," said Alison Boden, Executive Director of Free Speech Coalition, a national advocacy organization for the First Amendment rights of adult businesses. The group filed a lawsuit in federal court last year over what it called an "anti-porn ban" by Utah lawmakers.

The HB 1181 law passed in June 2023 in Texas requires companies that offer “sexual material harmful to minors” to verify that those who visit their website are 18 or older, either by proof of government-issued identification or another system that uses public and private data.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, sued Pornhub’s parent company, Aylo, in February to force them to comply with the HB 1181 law. Paxton also threatened the company with millions of dollars in civil penalties – including up to $10,000 per day for noncompliance, and $250,000 “if a child is exposed to pornographic content due to not properly verifying a user’s age.”

“Texas has a right to protect its children from the detrimental effects of pornographic content,” Paxton said in announcing the suit. “I look forward to holding any company accountable that violates our age verification laws intended to prevent minors from being exposed to harmful, obscene material on the internet.”

The Texas case illuminates similar restrictions on pornography websites across the US. And it shines a light on the debate over the balance between keeping children safe online and free speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment.

New message on Pornhub in some states

When Texans go to Pornhub, they find a message that says the law impinges "on the rights of adults to access protected speech . . . Not only will it not actually protect children, but it will also inevitably reduce content creators' ability to post and distribute legal adult content and directly impact their ability to share the artistic messages they want to convey."

Pornhub says the "only effective solution" to protect children and adults is to verify the users' age on their devices and deny or allow them access to age-restricted content and websites based on that verification, according to the message on the site.

“Until the real solution is offered, we have made the difficult decision to completely disable access to our website in Texas,” the adult site's message read.

Paxton's office declared victory when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit determined the Texas law does not violate the First Amendment.

“Applying rational-basis review, the age-verification requirement is rationally related to the government’s legitimate interest in preventing minors’ access to pornography,” the court said. “Therefore, the age-verification requirement does not violate the First Amendment.”

Identification card required for adult access

More than a handful of states across the US have passed age verification legislation in the last year. Many of them require the companies to obtain an identification card from users who want to access adult sexual content.

Louisiana was the first state to pass an age-verification requirement law.

"So far, six other states have copied this (Louisiana) bill but minor changes have been made to the text, which can have big implications for systems designed to achieve compliance," reads a post from the Age Verification Providers Association . The organization is a not-for-profit global trade body representing 26 organizations who provide "age assurance solutions."

Child safety debate rages across the US

The laws - and pushback from the porn industry - cast light on the debate over free speech and child safety .

The Free Speech Coalition sued Texas over the latest law, arguing infringement on freedom of speech.

"We can all work to keep minors from accessing adult content, but allowing the government to dictate what information adults can see is unconscionable and unconstitutional," according to Boden.

A statement from the coalition following the recent court decision allowing Texas to uphold the law reads: "Our battle, of course, is just beginning. Unfortunately, we’ve already seen how this designation has been weaponized to censor and ban LGBTQ+ literature, reproductive rights resources, sex education, art, and healthcare. Sexual expression, online and off, has been and continues to be the canary in the coal mine of free speech.

Child safety advocates and state legislators where laws have passed argue that protections are needed to ensure kids are safe online.

A poll from RMG Research shows a majority of Americans support a federal law requiring adult websites that contain sexual content to have some kind of age-verification requirements.

The battles in states across the country could foreshadow what's to come in other states looking at age verification laws.

"After a wave of legislation focused on child online safety swept through state legislatures over the past two years, legal challenges against the new laws are gaining traction in federal courts," reads an article from Tech Policy Press . "But rather than signaling a change in the tide, the lawsuits may ultimately spur a new round of bills that address flaws in those passed in the first wave."

Indiana age-verification bill could be next

Similar legislation in Indiana could become law and possibly lead to Pornhub also disabling access to that state, the difference is, the company may also be held legally liable by minors' parents.

Senate Bill 17 is on its way to Indiana Gov. Gov. Eric Holcomb. and it would, like HB 1181, require "adult-oriented websites" to mandate the verification of its users to make sure they are 18 or older.  

According to Indiana law , harmful materials for minors can include representations of nudity, sexual conduct and sadomasochistic abuse. 

The Indiana bill differs from the Texas law because it allows parents to sue if their children access a pornography site that is "knowingly or intentionally" not utilizing age-verification measures. The minor's parent or guardian can receive up to $5,000 in damages if a court rules in their favor. The attorney general can also sue pornography websites that don't abide by the law, but the civil penalty would be up to $250,000.

Pornhub also disabled access in 2023 in Utah when the state passed its age verification law .

Contributing: Brittany Carloni for the Indianapolis Star, David DeMille for the St. George Spectrum & Daily News


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