CHAMPION STRATEGIES – PUBLIC SPEAKING WORKSHOP – DECEMBER 11, 2021
Lincoln-Douglas Debate: An Introduction
As evidenced by the adversarial nature of debate, there are two sides to each debate, and these are known as the Affirmative and the Negative. The affirmative debater upholds, affirms, or agrees with the resolution. Their job is to present arguments in order to persuade the judge that the resolution is true.
The negative debater, on the other hand, disagrees with the resolution and presents arguments to persuade the judge that the resolution is false. Each debater is responsible for arguing, or advocating, for his or her side of the resolution in front of a judge who decides which side of the resolution they will vote for based on the arguments presented in the debate round. Debates most important concept is forced choice, which is also known as clash.
This means that the judge is required to select (vote) between two mutually exclusive propositions. For example, if you are forced to choose between buying a soda and keeping your dollar, you can only choose one of those options. If you are having trouble figuring out the conflict scenario in the resolution, add the word “NOT” into the text to give you an idea as to what the negative must defend. “Resolved: In a democratic society, felons ought not retain the right to vote.” This will also help you with other resolutions, as some of them will be negatively worded.
How Does LD Debate Work? In each preliminary round, one debater is assigned to defend the affirmative, and the other debater is assigned to defend the negative. During the course of the tournament, you will be forced to defend both the affirmative side and the negative side many times. In each round, you will be assigned a flight (1st or 2nd), a room, an opponent, and a judge. In the debate, you will present a case that you have prepared before the tournament defending your side of the resolution, make arguments against the case your opponent presents, and answer the arguments that your opponent makes against your case.
Based on the strength of your arguments, how persuasive you are, and other factors, you will be awarded with either a win or a loss. Judges will also give you speaker points (on a scale of 1-30) based on how well you debated and spoke. The structure of tournaments is as follows: the first few rounds, anywhere from 3 to 8, will be preliminary rounds. The purpose of these rounds is to develop a ranking within the tournament that will determine who proceeds to elimination rounds.
Tournaments will “break”1 anywhere from the top 64 to the top 4 debaters (depending on the size) to elimination rounds. Those debaters that will compete in these rounds are the debaters that had the best overall record and speaker points from the prelim rounds. If you make it to elimination rounds, then you continue to debate as long as you win. At most tournaments, your elimination rounds will contain three judges (known as a panel) instead of one judge like prelims. Tournaments, typically, give out trophies for those that place well, as well as for those that have good speaker points. Speaker points are not only a way to win trophies, but also play a very important role in “seeding”2 debaters for elimination rounds