Competitive Mace debating often relies on teams receiving the motion only a very short time before the start of the debate. It may sound daunting, but with a bit of practise, fifteen minutes can be more than enough time to get your ideas together. Once you get the motion, find some where to prep with your teammate and try these simple steps:
1. Ask Why?
If you can figure out why you have been given this motion and why it is worth debating, you will have gone a long way towards understanding the main issue or issues behind it. Try and figure out what the problem is and why anyone would want to change it.
Spend a few minutes scribbling down whatever initial arguments and ideas come into your heads. Don’t throw out any ideas too early – They could be useful.
3. Have Three Points.
Organize your ideas. Try to determine which can be grouped into a single argument. Try to narrow them into three separate arguments so that they don’t overlap much. Each point should have a short and easy to remember label.
4. Develop Your Arguments.
You want your arguments to fill up your speech and to be difficult for the opposition to attack. Try thinking of ‘Principle/Consequence’. If you can link your argument to a well-known and generally accepted principle (eg. the State should look after its citizens), you might make it sound very convincing. Or if you can prove that your argument will lead to a positive consequence in reality (eg. less crime In Ireland), this could make your argument more reasonable. Then, use examples. If you know of somewhere that a solution like yours has worked before, tell us where and when.
5. Oppose Your Points
Predict where the opp osition will attack your arguments. One member of the team should play Devil’s Advocate. Attack the points you have come up with and force the other teammate to defend them. Often, during a debate, you will find that your points clash directly with what the other side is saying. This is what debating is all about. When you prepare your points, try leaving a space below each one to fit in ‘clash’. Here is where you can rebut what the opposition is saying, relevant to your own argument.
6. The Team Split
Team arguments can be split in different ways. You should find a way that suits your team. Sometimes, the first speaker will speak about two points and the second speaker will speak about a different point or two. However, as the second speaker has more time to prepare, often the first speaker will lay out the three points and then the teammate will expand on these same points, including more analysis, detail and lots of rebuttal of the other side. If you have well-developed arguments and a good opposition, the second speaker of a team will have more than enough to say.
7. Go Debate…
Don’t be afraid to adapt your speech during a debate especially if you are one of the later speakers. For one thing, you will need to add rebuttal – This is when you explain why the other team’s points are wrong. You can give a little time to it before your own arguments or woven into your speech as ‘clash’. Good luck!