Debate Argument Structure: Arranging Your Ideas for Success

Part and parcel of being a competent debater is having the ability to organize your arguments in a logical and coherent fashion. The most brilliant ideas and thought-provoking arguments are nothing if they cannot be understood by your opposition and the debate adjudicator. Therefore, it is imperative that you arrange your arguments well, so that you can make use of the few minutes you have on the floor to persuade and convince the adjudicator that your team is the one to listen to.


Read on to learn about the most basic way to structure your debate arguments!


Point

At the beginning of your speech, you would ideally start by outlining your arguments. When writing, this would be your topic sentence, which should give the audience sufficient idea of what you are going to be discussing. Your claim acts as an anchor, to which your explanation and evidence are attached. Therefore, try to make it as clear and succinct as possible.


Example of a debate claim: Technology does not make humans more lonely...


Explanation / Analysis

After making an assertion, you need to explain in detail what you mean by your statement and provide reasons for why you believe it is true. Your reasons need to be strong to convince the debate adjudicator that your claim is credible and believable, which would also make it more challenging for the opposing team to rebut well. To provide a strong explanation, make sure to do plenty of research prior to the debate and get your information from reliable sources, such as academic journals, industry publications, and experts.


The explanation portion is also where many debaters tend to fall into the trap of logical fallacies, which essentially refer to faulty reasoning that weakens the logic of your argument. Knowing this could help you look out for weaknesses in your opponents’ explanation in formulating your rebuttals.


Example of a debate explanation: … because they allow people to connect with each other, sometimes even people with whom they would not have otherwise have been able to connect.


Example

Now that you have insisted that your argument is true, provide some examples to illustrate the argument more concretely, further driving the point home. Examples should be relevant to your point and robust in that they accurately portray your point. They may include statistics (percentages, proportions, etc.), study results, and real life events. Providing an example also allows you to prove that your point is valid and real, not imagined.


Example of a debate example: For example, through Twitter, you can engage in conversations with people living all the way across the globe. Without such technology, you would be confined to socializing with people in your immediate surroundings. Technology allows you to connect with more people than you otherwise would.


Link Back

After smashing the point, explanation and example, you should conclude your argument by linking your argument to your case. Basically, you need to provide an explicit explanation for why your argument supports your case.


Example of a link-back: Because technology enables you to socialize with more people, regardless of time and distance, it does not make humans more lonely but rather makes it easier for us to reach out and form relationships.


There you have it, a simple guide to structuring your debate arguments. Following this format will help you to deliver your ideas and knowledge in an organized manner and, most importantly, in a way that is easy for your opponents and adjudicator to understand.


If you would like to hone your debate skills, check out The Global Citizen Education Group’s debate programs. From beginner to advanced, there is a program for every level.
 
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