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How to Write a Debate to Win Any Competition

Are you in a debating society getting ready for a debate or you have just been called upon to be part of the team that would propose or oppose a motion in a forthcoming debate? Are you overwhelmed by the thought of having to craft a debate speech that would sway your audience to your side and make you win? If your answer is “YES.” quickly realize that you are not alone in the challenge. Many other students around the world face the same challenge. That’s why this post is set to teach you how to write a debate that’d win any competition.

How to Write a Debate to Win Any Competition

We are taking time to put this comprehensive guide together because we understand the usefulness of academic debates in the education process. We also understand that participating students often struggle to come up with a well-structured debate speech that is captivating, persuasive, and impactful. So herein, you’d find a step-by-step guide on how to write a debate speech that would win any contest.

Along the line, we will go beyond the tips and also give you examples and samples you can use as templates. At the end of the day, our goal is to see you construct a debate speech where your thoughts are well articulated and structured, so much so that victory is guaranteed.

What Are the Key Elements of a Debate Speech?

Before we show you the vital elements of a standard debate speech, let’s remind you that a  debate speech is a formal presentation where individuals or teams argue for or against a motion usually encapsulated in a topic. The aim is to persuade the audience with facts, figures, and superior reasoning, while trying to show them that your team is right over a particular position.

However, there are several essential elements that every worthwhile debate speech must have. These elements form the critical building blocks for a strong debate speech and once they are in place, it’d be easy to persuade the audience and win the contest i.e. with effective public speaking skills.

The following are the key elements of a strong debate speech:

1. Opening Statements

Let’s illustrate this in a way that will drive the understanding home. Imagine a debate as a padlocked door and the opening statement is the key to unlock it. The opening statement is where debaters introduce their topic or state their side of the argument and succinctly try to capture the attention of the audience maybe by telling a touching, giving a shocking statistic or quoting a famous individual whom the audience can relate with. Almost in the same breath, they lay down their main arguments. So the opening statement is all about how to start a debate.

2. Rebuttals

Rebuttals are like counterattacks in a debate. It is the stage at which you, as a debater, respond to your the arguments of your opponent. Without insults, you highlight their weaknesses, poke holes in their logic or reasoning, and present alternative viewpoints. For example, “I heard my opponent saying that a male child is more important than a female child because because males grow up to provide for the family. But in this 21st century, we cannot possibly exhaust the list of females heading business, companies and organizations around the world. Is it not the same money they are making?”

3. Rhetorical Appeal

The best way to look at this element of a debate is like adding some spice to your speech. Rhetorical appeal is all about persuading your audience by tapping into their emotions, ethics or logic. So by using ethos, pathos and other such flavors, you make your argument more appetizing.

4. Logical Reasoning

Logical reasoning is the backbone that holds everything in a debate speech together. In fact, it is the skeletal system of your argument. This is where debaters use clear logic and common sense to support their claims. If you handle your logical reasoning in such a way that you achieve coherence and persuasiveness, there is every chance that you will win the debating competition.

5. Use of Evidence

Evidence is like the concrete that strengthens your argument. So you need to use facts, statistics, examples, and expert opinions to support or back up what you are saying. That way, your speech would be more convincing.

6. Summary

The summary is an essential element of a good debate speech. It comes towards the of the debate and that is when the debater recaps his main points, emphasizes his strongest arguments, and leaves a lasting impression on the audience. For example, he can something like, “In case you missed it, here’s the gist of what I said.”

How to Write a Debate Speech

In order to effectively teach you how to write a debate speech, we need to break the process down into stages and show you how to execute each stage successfully. At the end of the day, we would have learnt how to write a good debate speech that is clear, logical, well-organized and convincing.

So, in line with that thinking, we shall be looking at:

  • How to prepare to write a debate.
  • Hôw to start a debate speech.
  • How to write the body of a debate speech.
  • How to end a debate speech.
  • Review and rehearse.

Let’s begin with the first.

How to Prepare to Write a Debate Speech

1. Choose a Position

Once the debate topic has been given, your first task as a participant is to try to understand the topic in all ramifications. Thereafter, decide your stance or position with regards to the topic. In other words, decide whether you would be arguing for or against the motion. This is very foundational.

2. Conduct Thorough Research

After thoroughly understanding the debate topic, it’s time to begin gathering information for writing your debate speech. To do this successfully, you must consult different sources like books, reputable websites, news papers, magazines and experts’ ideas.

As you go through the sources, be on the look out for facts, figures and real stories that would serve as evidence to back up what you want to say.

Please note that the sources of your research must be trusted and the information you extract valid. With that, you make your argument stronger and more convincing than your opponent’s.

3. Structure your Key Points

After researching and gathering your points, you need to begin to organize your main arguments to give it a clear and logical flow. That’s the only way you can effectively convey your position in the debate and convince your audience.

In your private preparation, ensure that you set sufficient time to each key point. Otherwise, they may not be adequately developed and presented on the D-day. You can achieve this by following a debate format.

The table below shows a standard debate speech format for an about 35 minutes long debate:

Opening Statements

Affirming Side: 5 minutes
Opposing Side: 5 minutes

Rebuttals (No New Arguments)

Affirming Side: 3 minutes
Opposing Side: 3 minutes


Affirming Side to Opposing Side: 3 minutes
Opposing Side to Affirming Side: 3 minutes

Second Rebuttals (if applicable)

Affirming Side: 2 minutes
Opposing Side: 2 minutes

Closing Statements

Affirming Side: 4 minutes
Opposing Side: 4 minutes
Question and Answer Session (entire debate)

How to Start a Debate Speech

Like we pointed out earlier, starting a debate speech is like opening a door to your argument. So you want to grab the attention of your audience and also set the stage for what you are bringing on.

The following are some simple steps to start your debate speech aright:

1. Hook the Audience

Begin your debate speech with a very compelling hook, for example, a striking fact, an intriguing question, a powerful quote, or a thought-provoking statement. Just find something that would make your audience to sit up and really be interested in what you have to say. For example, “Did you know that every year, millions of tons of plastic waste end up in our oceans, threatening marine life and ecosystems?”

2. Introduce the Topic

After grabbing the attention of your audience, introduce the topic of your debate. Remember to be clear and concise about what you plan to discuss. Keep it simple and straightforward. For example, “Today, we are here to debate the issue of plastic pollution and its impact on the environment.”

3. State Your Position

Clearly state your position or stance on the topic. Make it clear where you stand right from the start. For example, “I firmly believe that urgent action must be taken to reduce plastic pollution and protect our planet.”

4. Preview Your Main Arguments

This is very important though many debaters hardly do that. Once you are done stating the topic and your stance or position on the topic, go ahead to give a brief overview of the main arguments you will be presenting to support your position. This would set up the structure of your speech and give the audience an idea of what to expect. For example, “I’ll be discussing the environmental consequences of plastic pollution, the economic implications, and the solutions we can implement to address this pressing issue.” This does not give away your points but gives the audience a taste of what to expect.

5. Establish Credibility

At the very start, confidently establish your credibility on the topic and do so quickly. Share relevant qualifications, experiences, or expertise that make you a credible source of information. If you can do this, you will build trust with your audience. For example, “As someone who has studied environmental science for years and has worked on various conservation projects, I have firsthand knowledge of the devastating effects of plastic pollution.”

How to Write the Body of a Debate Speech

After starting your debate speech, you need to continue with the body of the speech. But in so doing, you must remember to structure the arguments in your debate in such a way that your ideas have logical flow and make sense.

The best way to structure a debate speech is to always follow your points with evidence and your evidence with explanation. So immediately after stating a point, follow it up with reliable evidence or facts, then explain how your evidence supports your point.

If you follow this structure, your argument will be both clear and persuasive.

It is also here that you anticipate opposing viewpoints and craft suitable responses or rebuttals. The goal is to challenge or oppose the points raised by your opponents in a persuasive manner.

So you need to think ahead and figure out strong rebuttals. If you can do this well, it will indicate that you have a firm grasp of the topic and the requisite skill to defend your stance.

How to End a Debate Speech

Earlier, we told you how important it is to start a debate speech in a very captivating and strong manner. Now, we want to let you know that concluding your debate speech effectively is as important as starting it strong. The reason is simply because the ending of a debate is your final opportunity to leave a lasting impression on your audience and to reinforce your position.

Here is how to end a debate speech effectively:

1. Summarize Your Key Points

Take part of the few minutes you are given to recap the main arguments you have presented throughout your speech. Remind your audience of the key points that support your position. Remember that you are not starting the argument afresh, so keep it concise and focused.

For example, “In conclusion, we’ve discussed the environmental impact of plastic pollution, the economic costs associated with it, and the practical solutions we can implement to address this issue.”

2. Reinforce Your Position

State your stance on the topic again with conviction. State clearly the reason why your position is the most reasonable or beneficial. Drive your point home using persuasive language.

For example, “I firmly believe that by taking proactive measures to reduce plastic pollution, we can preserve our environment for future generations.”

3. End with a Memorable Closing Statement

Finish your debate speech with a powerful closing statement that’d surely leave a lasting impression on your audience. You can end with a thought-provoking quote, a call to action, and so on.

For example, “As Mahatma Gandhi once said, ‘The earth does not belong to us, we belong to the earth.’ Let’s take responsibility for our planet and take action to protect it.”

4. Thank the Audience

End your speech with a polite thank you to the audience for their attention and engagement. Show appreciation for their time and attention.

For example, “Thank you for listening attentively to my arguments. I hope I’ve provided valuable insights into why we must address the issue of plastic pollution.”

Review And Rehearse

The last step to preparing, writing and delivering an effective debate speech is to review and rehearse a lot. Read through the draft of your speech to make sure it all makes sense and fits the time limit.

Practice how to talk either fast or slow depending on the length of your speech and the time limit. Pay attention to the use of your body in demonstrations and gesticulations.

Summary of Our Guide on How to Write a Debate Speech

Here is a summary of most of the points we have raised in this post with respect to how to write a persuasive and impactful debate speech:

  • Tailor language to match the audience’s demographics and interests.
  • Strengthen arguments with credible sources and diverse perspectives.
  • Organize with a clear introduction, well-developed body, and strong conclusion for a logical flow.
  • Capture attention with a compelling quote, question, or anecdote.
  • Support arguments with relevant statistics, examples, and real-world scenarios.
  • Anticipate opposing viewpoints and incorporate strong rebuttals.
  • Clearly articulate and repeat key ideas to reinforce your stance.
  • Maintain a dynamic and engaging delivery by varying tone and pace.
  • Pay attention to body language, eye contact, and gestures.
  • Allocate time wisely for each speech segment to ensure a well-paced presentation.
  • Be prepared to adapt to unexpected changes during the debate.
  • Practice multiple times to enhance clarity, emphasis, and pacing, boosting confidence.

Debate Speech Examples for Students

In order to drive home all the points we’ve made so far in this comprehensive guide, we shall leave you here with some debate speech example. From here you can begin to understand how to structure and present your debate.

Debate Speech Example 1:

Topic: Students should be allowed to have pets in their classrooms

Esteemed educators, esteemed colleagues, and dear students,

Today, we gather to deliberate upon a significant proposition: whether students should be permitted to introduce pets into our classroom environments. While the notion of having animal companions may evoke sentiments of joy, I am compelled to advocate against its implementation within our learning spaces.

First and foremost, the introduction of pets into the classroom has the potential to engender distraction. Picture attempting to engage in rigorous academic pursuits amidst the clamor of barking dogs or the disruption caused by meowing cats. Such disturbances can markedly impede our ability to maintain focus and concentration on our educational endeavors.

Additionally, it is imperative to recognize that the presence of animals may pose health concerns for certain individuals. Not all students may possess an affinity for or tolerance of animals, and allergies may manifest among some, precipitating adverse health reactions. Our paramount concern must be to cultivate an educational environment that is inclusive and safeguarded against potential health hazards.

Moreover, the custodianship of pets necessitates a significant degree of responsibility. Students are already entrusted with myriad scholastic obligations, including academic coursework and adherence to classroom protocols. Introducing the onus of caring for animals may prove burdensome and encroach upon valuable instructional time, potentially compromising academic pursuits.

Lastly, pets introduce hygiene concerns. They may create messes or carry germs, jeopardizing cleanliness and potentially student health.

In conclusion, despite the allure of classroom pets, practical considerations outweigh benefits. Distractions, health risks, added responsibilities, and hygiene concerns necessitate a careful approach. Let’s prioritize an environment conducive to learning and the well-being of all. Thank you.

Debate Speech Example 2:

Topic: School uniforms should be mandatory for all students

Esteemed educators, fellow students, and distinguished guests,

As we come together today to deliberate on the question of whether school uniforms should be mandatory for all students, I stand before you in firm support of this proposition. I do so with a deep appreciation for the numerous benefits that mandatory uniforms can bring to our educational community.

First and foremost, I believe that mandatory uniforms promote a sense of unity and equality among students. By removing the emphasis on individual style preferences and socio-economic differences, uniforms create a level playing field where every student feels included and valued.

Moreover, I am convinced that uniforms can help reduce distractions in the classroom. By removing the pressure to keep up with fashion trends or dress in a certain way, students can focus more on their studies, leading to improved academic performance.

Additionally, I believe that uniforms instill important values such as professionalism and discipline. By adhering to a dress code, students learn the importance of presenting themselves in a certain manner and develop habits that will serve them well in their future endeavors.

While it is understandable that some may have concerns about uniforms stifling individual expression, I firmly believe that there is ample room for personal style within the confines of a uniform policy.

In conclusion, I urge you to consider the many benefits that mandatory school uniforms can bring to our educational community. From promoting unity and equality to reducing distractions and instilling valuable values, uniforms have the potential to create a more supportive and conducive learning environment for all. Thank you.

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About Henry Divine

Henry Divine is a passionate educator and seasoned blogger with a strong commitment to providing valuable insights and resources to the education community. With over 6 years of experience in the field, Henry's articles are well-researched, authoritative, and tailored to meet the needs of teachers, students, and parents alike. Through his blog, Henry aims to empower readers with practical tips, innovative strategies, and evidence-based practices to foster lifelong learning and academic success. Follow Henry for the latest updates and expert advice on all things education.

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