- How To Write a Debate Brief
- Debating topics can be an exciting and passionate event for
many. Whither it's one on one debating, or participating in a
Debate team, there are rules and structures set for the process.
- Debates begin with a Positive position. The burden of proof
is on the affirmative side. The proposition is stated and a brief
explanation is given in a 5 minute opening.
- The first Negative Speaker, or the opposing view, cross examines
the opening argument. This position is usually given 3 minutes
- The second Negative Speaker provides a Constructive argument
to the affirmed position. The speaker has 5 minutes to make their
- The first Positive Speaker has 3 minutes to cross examine
the Negative arguments presented in the debate.
- The second Positive Speaker then has 5 minutes to provide
an additional Constructive argument.
- This process continues until all members of the team have
had an opportunity to speak.
- The debate ends with the last member of the Affirmative team
stating a rebuttal for 3 minutes.
- The last member of the Opposing team has 3 minutes for their
- The team captain of each team then has 3 minutes to present
their closing rebuttals. The Positive team goes first. The Opposing
team gets the last word.
- Constructive speeches are statements for your side of the
argument in detail. These speeches should be planned in advance.
Cross-examinations are provided to the opposing view to ask questions.
These questions are a chance to expose the flaws in the arguments
of the other side. Rebuttal is the opportunity to respond to
what the other side has said and to explain why their opposing
argument is invalid (I hate the word wrong).
- In order to prepare for a structured debate, a Debate Brief
is written prior to the debate.
- Gather Together:
- · Good Listening Skills
- · Ability To Take Notes
- · Being Able To Think On Your Feet
- · Maintain Control Of Your Emotions
- Step 1:
- Research The Topic.
- In order to formulate a position, you first need to know
the details and facts related to the subject.
- Step 2:
- Organize The Information.
- Each topic may have a different structure for organization.
Should it be chronological, should it be by source or by expert
research or statements. The organization must be formulated so
that the most relevant facts that support your stated position
- Step 3:
- A Background Statement.
- A background statement on the issue identifies:
- 1) Why does this issue matter?
- 2) How did we get to where we currently are?
- 3) Why is change needed or not needed?
- 4) What are important terms and concepts for understanding
- Step 4:
- Define Your Arguments.
- The position of your position should organize your arguments
in a clear, concise form. You will want to refer to this statement
during the debate so this statement should be written so it can
be easily recalled. Don't make it too long or too short. Usually
one sentence is enough.
- Step 5:
- Anticipate Opposing Arguments.
- In order to prepare for debate, you must have an understanding
of what the opposing view or views might be to your position.
This is your chance to play 'Devils Advocate' to find holes or
weaknesses in your position.
- Write the main arguments you believe the other side will
make and explain why they are invalid. State the opposing point
and then write several (at least 3) paragraphs responding to
that opposing position.
- Additional Tips:
- · The better your research is, the better your position
- · Be as precise and concise as possible. Remember
you have time limits.
- · Choose your words carefully. The worst thing you
can do is use a word you didn't mean to use.
- · Write note cards from your brief to help keep your
information organized during the debate.
- · Practice! Make sure everyone on your team is educated
in your position and understands the research.
- · Use quotes and statistics from experts. Make sure
you know their qualifications to make these statements.
- Be Careful:
- · The worst thing you can do in a brief or in the
debate is allow your passion to work its way into your emotions.
- · Maintain control of your feelings and emotions.
Letting anger come through your statements will take away from
your position. No matter how good your argument is.