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[Debate for Beginners] Effective responses

Disclaimer: the content of this lecture will be constantly updated. I also learn and find new effective ways to deliver responses. I wrote “19.2” in front of the video title; it means term 2 in 2019. These videos will be remade every term as I continue teaching throughout high school. Please read the most recent post with this title to get the newest tips!

Today in our CCA class, I talked about effective responses. In debate, points unresponded until the end of the debate are, by most judges, considered to firmly stand. In many beginner-level debates, some points remain unrefuted, and thus responses become pivotal to win a debate. More often, many responses just end as negations, thus resulting in deadlocks.

In intermediate level debates, the opposite happens; there is a sea of responses and points that it is almost impossible to refute all of them.

While I am also practicing strategies when there the intermediate debate scenario, I can talk about effective engagement in beginner level debates. Thus, today I talked about negations, even if cases, and comparisons.

What I recommended doing was breaking down an argument into the “statement” and “impact.” A statement would be a characterization of the policy, and impact would be the possible outcomes that stem from that characterization.

Then, a negation—one of the ways to respond to an argument—would primarily find a faulty link between the statement and the impact. Then, an even if case would be that even if the statement and impact were closely linked together, why the argument doesn’t matter or bad because of any other reason. Finally, a comparison would put the argument in different contexts, especially a context that is the easiest for your opponents to fight in, and say why your side still wins the debate even in that context.

One thing that beginners misunderstand about comparisons is that you don’t necessarily have to be the “good guys” and opposition be the “bad guys.” Rather, it is only sufficient to prove that you are better than opposition! That is, you can concede that your side isn’t the ideal situation, but your opponents even worsen the situation. An classic debate where this strategy is used is the motion THW abolish the P5 in UNSC. Debates like this, where there is a key tradeoff, it isn’t strategic to prove why your side is “good,” because it puts additional burden on your side.

After explaining these concepts, I delivered a 5 minute PM speech on the motion THW have debate education instead of math classes in school, and made everyone deliver their rebuttals to my speech.

Update on April 14th:

Video link:


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