How to Debate


More about NYC Debate

Debate Topics

How to Debate


What is this all about?

The goal of debate is to convince the judge that your side is correct.One team proposes an idea (debate case) and tries to convince the judge that the idea is correct, or a good idea. The other team tries to convince the judge that the idea is bad, and the harms would outweigh the benefits.

Why Debate?

  1. It’s fun
  2. Chance to discuss ideas that you’ve had
  3. Improve analytical thinking
  4. Practice public speaking
  5. Learn to be convincing

How to Make a Debate Case

  1. Think of an interesting idea for how to change something
  2. Brainstorm a wide variety of reasons, arguments, counter-arguments to possible objections, and points of analysis that support the proposal
  3. Choose the best reasons and group into crisp, catchy high level categories such as “Philosophical”, “Economical”,“Protecting the lives of innocents”.
  4. Write down your idea/proposal in one, precisely worded sentence that exactly describes the topic you want to debate.This is your ‘case statement’, and this is what the whole debate will really be about. Make sure that any important details or caveats are included.

The Debaters

To make it simple, we usually draw sides out of a hat, with half the people "For" and half the people "Against".
The Speeches

There are thee important parts of a speech:
  1. Introduce new points that haven't been made yet
  2. Counter the points that the other team has made
  3. Reinforce the points that previous teammates have made

Online Resources

Our style of debate is loosely based on the Parliamentary Debate style. To learn more, see these resources.