If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering how to be a first speaker. Yup, I have to admit it is quite a predicament. The very idea of opening a debate and setting up a case for your side is an unnerving feat even for the gallant. Thus, nerves of steel and a proper guide by yours truly are required! So let’s get cracking and try to transform you into a classy debater in just 10 minutes!
What’s A First Speaker?Well, a first speaker is the first person to open up your case you’re the bench. Thus, a general/thorough understanding of the issue is required. Do not pick a motion you are not well versed in or simply cannot go through. You’ll lose focus, structure and also lose direction. This could be very, very detrimental to your side. Have a general understanding of the facts of the case. This means you’ll know if the other side is lying or not and can quickly point out to the adjudicator. Always remember that the most important thing is your sides stand. Make it a habit to state your stand early on. Clarity is very essential to a first speaker. Take your time, were not in a hurry, be calm…no stress.
Prime MinisterWhat do Gordon Brown, Samak Sunderaverej, Ehud Olmert and Vladimir Putin have in common? Besides funny accents and corruption, they are their respective countries’ head of government. However, in a debate, a prime minister opens up the debate. He identifies a problem in the current status quo and proposes a change. Do this early on in your speech. Identify the freaking problem and say there’s a dire need to solve the problem. What if there’s no problem/ you don’t know if there’s a problem? Then state that public perception is at an all time low in that said issue. Never ever propose status quo, squirrel or propose a truistic case!Tips on a PM are:
1. Being the first person to open up a debate isn’t the best feeling in the world. Trust me, I had better times. If you look at the audience, they want to see you screwed, if you look at the adjudicator, they want to see you screwed, if you look at the opposition, they’re waiting to screw you! So, take a deep breath, steel yourself, muster for strength and speak. Calmly and assuring. Combat that stage fright. Remember your structure; remember your case and most of all remember your goal (to win).
2. What’s a mechanism/framework? This is essentially ‘how we are going to enforce it’. A mechanism is not really needed in all debates. Like in value judgment debates, don’t ban something which does not need to be banned! A mechanism is to be used strategically. It can be used to keep things in debate and things out of debates. A little twitch here and twitch there can give the opposition one hell of a nightmare! Remember to be paranoid so that you can put more safeguards on your case.
3. Point prioritization. During prep, you would have identified the basic principles, the important points, and examples. The most important substantive should be given to the PM. Why? Based on myexperience, adjudicators like to see important points or the obvious points to come out from the first speaker. What if you’re done with your points and you still have much time left? Steal your 2nd Speakers’ point! Sure he would be pissed but as first speaker, you need to come out strong. Not completing the time allocated shows your side has much to say. As for the 2nd Speaker, well he’s got a full speech to think of another point, so help him out.
4. Pre-buttals. I’m sure most of you know what’s a rebuttal is. But what’s a pre-buttal? This is when you have anticipated what the opposition is going to say and you counter it in a speech. If done correctly, you may sound intelligent…for once. Don’t be afraid to concede to certain matters which are obviously true but argue out correctly. How do you anticipate what the enemy is going to say? Well, one of you will have to play as the devil’s advocate and think of an opposition case (preferably the 3rd Speaker). Do pre-buttals subtly. Don’t come up and say “well, the opposition is gonna come up and talk about saving the birds”. That just doesn’t sound right. These views are also shared by World Champion Anna Garsia and 2 times Australs Champion Tim Sonnreich.
Leader of the OppositionAhhh, the loser. The wannabe prime minister. The conservative stick-to-status-quo dude who leads this clan. The best LO a speech that I ever watched was from David Cameron, Conservative Party. Witty, charming, funny, and full of substance and the list goes on. Remember, as an opposition, it is always easier to destroy a case than build one…almost. As an opposition leader, you can either choose to stick to status quo or propose an alternative i.e. a counter proposal.Tips on LO:
1. As the LO, you’ll be speaking up so the heat would tone down a bit. You’re expected to ridicule the PM’s speech, poke holes in it and tell the people why your case is better. Ridicule the mechanism, say why it won’t work. Question on the feasibility of the PM’s proposal. You can even opt to not the problem that the PM has stated. Then, tell the public why status quo is better.
2. Rebuttals. Make rebuttals an essential part of your speech. You want to belittle the government’s case. So focus on your rebuttals. Don’t forget to emphasize on your substantives and state the reasons why changing things would be for the worse. Don’t forget to use even if arguments to strengthen your rebuttals.
3. Of truistic cases, definition challenges and also messy, messy debates. An idiotic PM when proposing a truistic case has essentially plunged the debate at an all time low. Forget about high speaker points. All you’re going to get is a grumpy adjudicator. So, when a government commits this cardinal sin, the LO must initiate a definitional challenge. Tell the adjudicator what the debate is suppose to be about and run an even if case. You’ll learn this in debate training….I hope.
Prep Time!!!Discussing-Arguing-Make Up-Panic at the Debate! 4 Steps in a normal, usual debate team. But we’re not a normal debate team; we’re the UT Mara debate team. So develop a system to cater to this prep as a system. The way I do it, I think on how to attack the motion around 5 minutes, and then discuss it withmy partner with tolerance, good faith, understanding and all that positive stuff. I make a (wish list™) on how to prove the issues on the debate. Remember, thoroughly focus on the 1st Speaker’s Speech first, and then proceed to the 2nd Speaker. Get to know your partner, have a latte and most of all, and cooperate.
That’s A WrapSo, to all you lexicon lovers, I hope you learned something today! Being a classy 1st Speaker takes time and also experience. Heck, I only did it for one year and got loads to learn! If any of you have any inquiries or problems, please don’t hesitate to ask me or our seniors. We’d be glad to help and improve together all in the name of the club. Lastly, I would like to say that all the good stuff in this guide came from god and the bad parts are solely my mistake. Cheers, lads.