Constructivespeeches in the debates are affirmative and negative. The first affirmative constructive speech is concerned not with attack or defense but with building the affirmative case. The points developed in this speech influence greatly the course of the entire debate. These points include a definition of key terms, an explanation of the affirmative plan, description of the evils of the present situation, the causes of these evils, and a demonstration of how the suggested plan or policy proposal would meet the needs of the people. The first affirmative speaker need not consider disadvantages of the plan, but additional advantages may be included in the first speech. Every word and every piece of evidence must be carefully chosen to increase the effectiveness of this speech. A debate is often won or lost in this first speech. Therefore it should be compact, meaty and organized properly.
After the first affirmative constructive speech there must be a negative one to counter previous arguments of the opposition. For the most part it must be constructed extemporaneously. It means that the speaker must master the art of composing on the spot a speech tailored to answer the proceeding one. Although the main purpose of the negative is to attack the affirmative case, the negative should not argue solely on affirmative points; it should also initiate the issues of impractibility and disadvantages of the affirmative plan. The negative speaker casts doubts as to whether the proposed by the affirmative speaker plan would meet the minimal need. If the first affirmative speaker did not introduce any plan, the negative should introduce certain general disadvantages of the underlying principle of the affirmative policy, delaying its attack on the plan after it has been explained. Thus, the recommended procedure is to introduce all the negative objections (such as impractibility and disadvantages) in this first speech after a brief statement of negative issues and an attack on affirmative case.
The main purpose of the second affirmative speech is to reconstruct the affirmative case and to bring the judge back to the affirmative point of view. The speaker must adapt his material to the previous speech and emphasize issues in accordance with the emphasis they received in the proceeding speech. The second affirmative speaker should point out the failures of the negative speaker and deny his conclusions. Answers to negative objections must be given and additional advantages of the affirmative plan should be emphasized. Summarizing the entire case, there should be made a reference to the negative speech.
The second negative constructive speech should be mainly an attack upon the reconstructed affirmative case and upon any additional advantages that may have been introduced by the proceeding affirmative speaker. If the second constructive speech is combined with the first negative rebuttal speech, the next negative speaker devotes himself almost exclusively to reinforcing and rebuilding negative objections. Some negative teams abandon the affirmative issues completely and open their speech with an attack on the practicability of the affirmative plan – particularly if the latter was introduced in the proceeding speech – and then solidly build negative objections for the remainder of the speech.
In debating each team will present points in favor of their case. They will also spend some time criticizing the arguments presented be the other team. This is called rebuttal. A rebuttal is a speech in which debaters respond to arguments and summarize why the judge(s) should vote affirmative or negative. Unlike constructives, debaters should refrain from making new arguments in this part of the debate.
There are a few things to remember about rebuttal:
1) Logic – to say that the other side is wrong is not enough. You have to show why the other side is wrong. This is best done by taking a main point of the other side’s argument and showing that it does not make sense.
2) Pick the important points – try to rebut the most important points of the other side’s case. One obvious spot to find them is when the first speaker of the other team outlines briefly what the rest of the team will say. But do not rebut those points until after they have actually been presented by the other team.
3) “Play the ball” – do not criticize the individual speakers, criticize what they say. To call someone fat or ugly does not make what they say wrong and it will also lose you marks.
The first negative rebuttal speech. The first negative rebuttal speaker presents a brief summary of what has gone before and devotes the remainder of his speech to further substantiating the negative’s objections. The aim is that the judge should have the impression that the disadvantages of the affirmative program far outweigh any accruing advantages. Thus the emphasis is made on the impracticability and disadvantages of the affirmative case.
The first affirmative rebuttal speech. The affirmative speaker must not go on the defensive. The mind of the judge must be brought back to the affirmative position. The first affirmative rebuttalist should also deal with the negative objections without appearing to be on the defensive.
The second negative rebuttal speech. The final speech should bring into focus the main lines of argument which have been pursued throughout the debate, with emphasis upon one’s own case. The second negative speaker should analyze and attack the important affirmative contentions, refute the opposition and successfully defend his own case.
The second affirmative rebuttal speech. The affirmative speaker gets the last speech in the debate. His task is to reestablish affirmative case advantages and minimize the impacts of the negative arguments.