Debate Tip of the Week: Analysis Before Evidence

Here’s a quick and simple way to become more persuasive and increase word efficiency: always present your analysis of the argument before you read the supporting evidence.

Why is this more persuasive? Because so many debaters follow the same pattern. They give the tag of their argument (ideally) and then say “I have some evidence here from XYZ…” After they read the quotation they then say “what this says is that…” and repeat what they just read in a complete waste of time before move on.

This makes it seem like the debater was handed the evidence right before the speech and they’re figuring out the argument as they read the evidence. Granted, sometimes this is the case, and in that situation perhaps you should make sure you’ve got a decent understanding of your evidence before the next tournament. If you do actually know what the evidence says you know sound like you don’t know what you’re saying.

Even more, it sounds like you’re not making an argument at all but aping the source of your evidence. In a debate round you are the one making the arguments and the experts support your analysis.

Low key this method of presentation also saves you time, because immediately after you finish the evidence the next words out of your mouth should be your next tag. Debaters get stuck on that transition between post-evidence analysis and the next argument, but if you’ve already given the analysis you can easily move on. Your word economy will vastly improve.

Debate presentation should feel robotic if you’re not used to it. Signpost, tag, analysis, evidence, repeat. But when you listen to it done properly it doesn’t sound robotic at all. Instead it sounds professional, confident, and persuasive. Most debaters with a decent amount of experience are alright with signposting and tagging, but nearly everyone presents their analysis and evidence in the wrong order. Fix it and improve.

Attend our pre-regionals circuit training and to practice this and more!

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