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What is a debate

Learn all about debate writing

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What is a debate? 

A debate is a formal discussion about a topic. Two sides can argue for or against a particular proposal or resolution in a debate.

Debates are governed by rules and conventions that both sides agree to follow. A neutral mediator or judge is sometimes appointed to help manage the discussions between opposing sides.

Debating is a form of persuasive communication. You can find a complete guide for persuasive writing that will help you to write your debate speech. Learn all about debate writing format from top experts for free 


class debating

This unit will help your students write great DEBATE SPEECHES, as well as craft ARGUMENTS that have been thoroughly researched, constructed, and are ready for critique by their classmates.


Debates can take place in many contexts. These contexts will determine which structure the debate will follow. Best ways to learn debate writing examples for free

There are many contexts in which debates can occur, including legislative assemblies, public meetings, and election campaigns.

Although structures are different, the following is a simple step-by-step structure that we can share with our students. Students will be able to debate this structure and find it easy to adapt to other debate formats.

1. Select a topic

Sometimes called a resolution or a motion. The topic is chosen by each side. This is often the case when students are practicing their debating skills.

Or, in the case of a political discussion, there are two sides that naturally emerge around a specific issue.

2. For two teams, form

There are two teams each of three speakers. These teams are called ‘The House for the Motion’, the Affirmative’ group, and ‘The House Against the Motion’ or the Negative’ group.

Debating is a process that requires preparation. Each member of the debate and speech team will need to take time to research and collaborate on their arguments.


Some contests give students only the topic for the day, and they have limited time to prepare. Research is the first step in speech writing.

It is difficult to explain how to research effectively. We also have a detailed article about Top Research Strategies here.

1. The Attention Grabber

It is vital to grab the attention of the audience. This is crucial to ensure that the team’s efforts are rewarded.

This can be done in a variety of tried-and-true ways. These are the three main attention grabbers that work well.

a.) Quotation from a Well-Respected Person

A quote from a well-known person can be a great way of drawing attention to the speaker. Even if the celebrity is not well-known, people love celebrities.

b.) Statistics

The power of numbers can be persuasive. Quantifiable information is what persuades people. Maybe it’s because numbers allow us to pinpoint abstract ideas and arguments.

c.) The Anecdote

Anecdotes are a great way to help the audience understand complex topics. Anecdotes can be essentially stories that help to make difficult moral or ethical dilemmas more accessible to the audience.

2. Introduce the topic

Once the audience has absorbed the topic or the motion, it is time to present the topic. To ensure that the audience is fully informed about the topic, it’s important to do this in a clear and concise manner.

3. Please provide the Thesis Statement

The thesis statement should state the position of the student or team on the motion. The thesis statement should explain which side the speaker is on in the debate.

4. Check out the Arguments

The introduction section of a debate speech is the final section. It includes a preview of the key points for the audience.

You don’t need to discuss each argument in detail here. That’s why the body of the speech was created. It’s enough to give a general thesis statement about each argument or ‘claim’. (more to come).

The real meat of the speech is the body paragraphs. These paragraphs contain the arguments and details that constitute the core of the discussion.

The Structure of an Argument

After the introduction, the student can now get to the meat of the debate, which is making convincing arguments in support of their argument.

An argument in a debate speech has three main components. These are:

1. Claim

2. The Warrant

3. The Impact

The claim is the first part of an argument. This is the assertion the argument is trying to prove.

The Conclusion

This section gives the speaker one final chance to deliver their message.

The conclusion of a formal timed debate is an opportunity for the speaker or presenter to demonstrate that they are able to speak within the time limit and still cover all material.

The Rejoinder’s Burden

The burden of the rejoinder is a rule in formal debates that means that if an opponent makes a point against their side, it is incumbent on the student/team that they address the issue directly.

Refusing to do so will be automatically interpreted as an acceptance of the opponent’s point.

Do some practice activity

Students should spend significant time with their teams when preparing for their speeches.

A good way to practice rejoinder is the Devil’s Advocate. This involves one member of the opposing side acting as a speaker, posing arguments for the speaker to counter. It sharpens their refutation skills.

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