Debate Checklist

Whether you’ve just joined the college debate team, you’re preparing for law school, you’re dreaming of a life in politics, or you want to be an expert in verbal sparring for the sheer sport of it, you’ll need to know how to debate eloquently to ensure success. After all, a debate is about getting a point of view across and swaying opinions in a structured and intellectual manner while building confidence. This Debate Checklist will help you debate effectively.

Research.

In order to communicate effectively, it’s imperative to know the facts. Do your homework. Read up on the topic. Highlight quotes from your research as an easy reference during this process. Study and understand both sides of the argument. Look at it from different angles. Collect evidence to support all views on the topic.

Picking sides.

While it helps to see a point from all sides, you must pick one side to argue. You may not even agree with this side. However, articulating ideas in a passionate way and with conviction from a perspective you don’t personally agree with is great practice for future endeavors. It’s about committing and following through. If you show signs of doubt, it will be difficult to win your argument.

Create your debate.

Whether you’re debate is written or oral, this process will help put things into perspective. Organize your thoughts using this formula:

  • Keep your introduction succinct.
  • Pick four to six of your strongest pieces of evidence in advance.
  • Repeat your thesis in the conclusion and point out ways in which you have disproved the opponent’s point of view.

Practice.

It’s natural to be nervous, but the more you practice out loud with friends, roommates, family members, or even alone in front of a mirror, the easier it will be for you to appear calm, cool and collected. Confidence will help you win.

Presentation.

  • You will be taken more seriously. If this is for a school debate, you may be given a dress code.
  • Speak clearly and concisely at a volume where everyone can hear you.
  • Don’t speak too slow or you’ll lose the audience’s attention.
  • You will sound more intelligent.

Passion.

Don’t be afraid to convey passion when you speak. It will make your argument more compelling and interesting. Passion is a valuable tool in a debate. For example, people feel strongly whether they are for or against the legalization of marijuana, or abortion. Tap into that passion, but remember to stay level headed.

Rebuttal.

You’ll be making mental or physical notes as the other side presents their case. Chances are, you’ll want to rebut some of the opposing arguments. You won’t have time to rebut them all. If you nitpick every argument, you’ll water down your own perspective. Be selective.

Debate Checklist Tips

  • Think how would I respond to my friend about this topic. It will help keep your argument more authentic and believable.
  • Counter your opponent with the opposite statement they claim. This is an under-used strategy.
  • Stay up to date on current affairs. Most likely, you'll be able to use this information in upcoming debates.