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Debate Speech - Ultimate Writing Guide for Students
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A debate speech is a structured argument about a particular topic. It is conducted according to the set of rules designed to give each team a fair chance. Therefore, following a proper structure in debate writing is essential for the debater and the audience.
Similarly, there are also some other methods to write an effective debate. By understanding them, you will increase the chances of your success. Moreover, setting a tone and correct word choice is also essential to grab the audience’s and judges’ attention.
We have drafted this detailed guide to help students with their debate speeches. Continue reading to get an idea about the complete format and template.
Debate Speech Definition
A debate speech is a formal discussion on a particular topic between two opposing sides. One side speaks in favor of the given topic, while the other one speaks against it. The main aim of a debate speech is to convince the audience that your opinion is right.
Also, the two main factors that determine the definition of a debate speech are:
- Context - It identifies the happenings in the area related to the topic.
- Spirit of the Motion - It tells how your debate is going to be.
It involves three basic elements given below.
- Logical consistency
- Factual accuracy
- Emotional appeal
Similarly, debate speech allows us to think about different perspectives and improves public speaking skills. It can further make you learn the basics of creating a persuasive argument.
Debate Speech Format
A debate speech format follows the below pattern.
Opening Statements and Clarification
This section includes the opening sentences by using three arguments along with clarifying questions.
- Pro Team - 5 minutes
- Con Team - 2 minutes
- Con Team - 5 minutes
- Pro Team - 2 minutes
Rebuttals (No New Arguments)
Here, the debaters repeat the opponent’s arguments and analyze what is wrong with his position.
- Pro Team - 3 minutes
- Con Team - 3 minutes
It allows the debaters to summarize their positions after detailed arguments with the opponents. Moreover, they will also explain why their position is the best.
- Pro Team - 3 minutes
- Con Team - 3 minutes
Lastly, each team will be expected to answer the questions in a 20-minute long session.
Have a look at the below document to get an idea of the debate speech structure.
How to Start a Debate Speech?
Starting your debate in the right way will make your audience more interested. Thus, take enough time to prepare a solid opening that will help you win the debate.
Follow the below prewriting steps to start a debate speech.
Below given is a detailed description of these steps.
1. Begin with an Impressive Greeting
The first and foremost step is to start your debate speech with an amazing greeting. It is much more than a simple introduction of a topic and gives an idea of the main argument.
Similarly, it also alerts the audience on whether the debate speech is going to be interesting or not. Remember, a compelling greeting will help you gain maximum attention from the listeners.
An example of the greeting is stated below.
“A very cheerful good morning to all. Honorable juries/adjudicators, respected teachers, and my fellow competitors. Today I would like to light my views supporting (if you are in favor) /opposing (if you are against) the motion/topic (say your topic).”
2. Tell a Personal Story
You can also tell a personal story from your experiences. It will help you connect with the audience emotionally. Moreover, being authentic and genuine will also make your debate stand out.
“When I was a child growing up in rural England, I came to accept how clean and unpolluted it was. It was when I moved to the city where I enrolled in a University. Little did I realize that air pollution and excessive waste was a big problem…”
3. State an Amazing Fact
Stating the facts and statistical data will also grab the audience’s attention. Similarly, it can also improve your position by strengthening the arguments.
“The economy does not work for everyone. The average person in the UK only has 12 weeks’ worth of their income saved in the bank…”
4. Use a Powerful Quotation
You can also summarize a topic or idea by using the words of other people. It is a great way to add weight and reputation to your argument.
“Over the last 20 years, the number of people who are keenly changing their diet is steadily on the rise. Ellen DeGeneres notably became a vegan, as she said in her own words after seeing “footage of what goes on in the slaughterhouses and on the dairy farm.” The notion that eating meat is becoming less important…”
5. Ask a Rhetorical Question
Starting a debate speech with a question will engage people and make them think in a specific mind frame.
“Have you ever wondered how important the ocean is in our lives? The oceans provide half the oxygen we breathe and feed more than 2 billion people each day…”
6. State a Problem
A debater can give a clear picture of the main argument by stating a problem.
“The internet is a danger to society. It’s clear that our global civilization is coming of age. We are communicating faster, doing business quicker, and learning volumes.
Even the trade in black market goods and services is not diminishing. What we choose to do with the internet can change the world.”
7. Share Your Opinion About the Topic
Lastly, a debater must share his opinion on the topic while starting a debate speech. It will help the audience to comprehend the side we are going to argue about.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to talk to you today about exams. The exam system that we have followed is the British system has been reformed many times. A big exam at the age of eleven determined a child’s whole future.
Here, I will argue that the problem is that exams, besides being stressful, are ineffective in assessing student learning.”
Refer to the example to learn more about how to start a debate speech 1st speaker.
How to Write a Debate Speech?
Follow the steps given below to write a debate speech.
1. Understand the Debate Speech
Understanding the debate speech and its nature is the first step in the writing process. Here, both the opposing teams will be given a topic. Choose the stance, either affirmative or negative, to the resolution.
Sometimes you will be given a stance, and other times you will be asked to take a position. Also, select the types of debate that you want to pursue. It can be a team policy debate, cross-examination, or parliamentary debating.
2. Research the Topic Thoroughly
The next step is to brainstorm and research the topic thoroughly. It will help you understand all the aspects of the resolution to write a perfect speech.
Make a list of the key points on both sides of the topic. Try to cover each in your debate speech. However, make sure to use credible sources such as newspapers, books, and scholarly journals.
Also, do not ignore the counter-arguments as they can weaken your debate.
3. Develop a Debate Speech Outline
Develop an outline for your debate speech to organize your main ideas. A basic speech outline consists of three main sections, i.e., introduction, body, and conclusion.
A detailed explanation of these sections is given below.
1. Debate Speech Introduction: It is the first section of a debate outline. Below are the four main parts that must be included in a debate speech introduction.
- An Attention Grabber: It is an interesting first sentence to grab the audience’s attention. Examples may contain a fact, quote, question, or story.
- Open the Debate: Open your debate by introducing a topic and make a clear statement to identify your position. It can be in favor of or against the issue under discussion. Here, the debaters should also define and explain difficult debate terms that the audience needs to understand.
- Present the Context: Present the context of your debate speech with the help of a thesis statement. It will clearly explain your position on the topic and which side you are supporting. Furthermore, you can also discuss any real-life experiences that can relate to the topic.
- Provide an Overview of Your Arguments: Briefly state your arguments to help the audience understand the direction of your speech. However, do not explain the arguments in this section. Also, use transitions so that the major argument does not merge in the middle of a speech.
The example of a debate speech introduction is given below.
“My favorite superhero Spider-man once said, “with great power comes great responsibilities.” I believe humans who have done the most damage to our earth’s environment have the responsibility to fix it.
Today’s resolution is “Electric cars are the future of Korea.” I support the resolution because we need to change to more environmentally friendly technology to save our planet. I will give two arguments to support my thesis.
The first argument is electric cars are cleaner than gas cars. However, my second argument is electric cars are becoming more popular and stylish than gas cars.”
2. Debate Speech Body Paragraphs
The body paragraphs are the main section of your debate speech. Here the judges will take notes of your significant arguments to compare them with the opponents at the end.
Each paragraph must include a statement to discuss the ideas that you want to make. Also, add a reason to support your thesis and explain more about the argument. However, do not forget to add evidence from credible sources to strengthen your argument.
Finally, explain the significance of your argument. It should discuss why the argument is important to the debaters and the judges. Moreover, it must also provide logical reasoning for the audience to choose your side.
Below is an example of a debate speech body paragraph.
“Electric cars are becoming more popular and stylish than gas cars. These days with new technology, the new item is electric and environmentally friendly automobiles. The Techno News stated the new electric cars were like the iPod when it first came out.
The design was not traditional, but once people began using it, the sales of the product skyrocketed. Electric cars today are the new desire in technology. This means there is no stigma attached to electric cars. Instead, electric cars are the trendy option to choose from.”
3. Debate Speech Conclusion
The conclusion of your debate speech is the last chance to demonstrate the major arguments. It includes an attention-grabbing sentence and a thesis statement that connects the entire speech. Also, summarize the main body by adding emotion and drama to our words.
It is good to conclude your speech & debate with a message or quote that clarifies your position and arguments to the judges. Finally, add a closing sentence similar to the attention grabber to leave a lasting impression on the audience.
The following is an example of a good debate speech conclusion.
“In conclusion, it was the wise words of Spider-man, “with great power comes great responsibility.” I believe humans are responsible for fixing the problems they create in the environment.
I gave two arguments to support the resolution. The first is that electric cars are cleaner than gas cars, and electric cars are more popular and stylish. If you want to help save the world, please support me in thinking electric cars are the future of Korea.”
Refer to the given document to understand the outline structure of a debate speech.
4. Writing the Debate Speech
After deciding on the outline format, start writing the final draft of your debate. It is better to combine the elements of persuasion to explain the effects of the topic in real life. These are:
- Logos (persuasion by reasoning)
- Pathos (emotional appeal)
- Ethos (appeal based on the character of a speaker)
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Furthermore, use transition words to maintain a logical flow between arguments. Never make the mistake of copying information from any other source. It is the best tip to avoid plagiarism.
Lastly, edit and proofread your work to identify any common errors. It may include grammatical, punctuation, and spelling mistakes.
You can also hire a professional proofreader or ask your friends or colleagues to proofread it. This is how you will be able to produce an amazing debate speech.
How to End a Debate Speech?
It is better to end your debate speech by identifying whether you have incorporated all the elements. Here is a checklist for you to access your speech with the help of the following questions.
- Does your debate speech begin with an impressive greeting?
- Have you written the original content in your debate essay?
- Have you provided personal experiences and a call to action to impress the judges?
- Do your speech and debate follow a proper format structure?
- Have you stated your opinion about the topic?
- Does it specify the correct types of debate that you want to pursue?
- Have you referred to a well-known book or movie?
- Do your arguments follow a restricted time limit?
- Have you proofread and revise your speech for punctuation, spelling, and grammar mistakes?
- Have you used an impressive sentence structure?
- Have you maintained consistency and logical flow between the arguments?
Follow these debating techniques to write a perfect one in no time. Check the example for a detailed understanding of the concept.
Debate Speech Examples
The following are some debate speech samples and examples for you to get a better idea.
Get more debate examples by going through our blog.
Debate Speech Topics
Here are some unique topic ideas for you to write a debate on.
- 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.
If you are looking for more ideas, here is a list of interesting debate topics.
The Key to Winning a Debate
To do well in a debate, you need to research and prepare. This means spending a lot of time writing and rewriting your speeches.
However, you can't just prewrite everything and expect to win. You also need to be able to think on your feet, write quickly, and respond promptly if you want to win.
To do this, you need to understand the keys to victory.
Always Listen to the Opponent Carefully
Being a good listener is one of the most important debating skills our students can have. When we think of winning a debate, we often think of dazzling the audience with our brilliance. But, being quiet and listening to others is often more important.
If students do not listen to the other side, they will not know what the other side is saying. They will not be able to refute the claims of the opposition effectively if they do not know what those claims are.
Understand the Audience
Before giving a speech, it is important to know who your audience is. Students should learn that the way they present their arguments may be different depending on the demographics of the audience and/or the judges they will be speaking to.
People who have retired from teaching and people who are still in school might have different reactions to the same arguments. This is also true during a debate.
If the person giving the speech sees that the listeners are not reacting well, they should change their approach during the speech.
Practice is the Key to Success
The students should practice their speech before the debate. There is no need to learn it by heart entirely.
Usually, there is no expectation to memorize a speech entirely. Doing so can lead to the speaker losing some of their spontaneity and power in their delivery. However, students should not spend the whole speech reading off a piece of paper word by word.
Students should be familiar with the content of their speech and use flashcards as prompts if necessary.
They should also focus on making their body language, facial expressions, and hand gestures coherent with the verbal content of their speech. One way to do this is to practice delivering their speech in front of a mirror.
The above guide will help you understand the writing process of a debate speech. But, despite that, not everyone can draft perfect content. Therefore, many students end up taking writing help online.
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