Lincoln-Douglas Debate is
a VALUE debate, meaning it is a debate about
what ought to be rather than specific policy.
It is usually a topic regarding the conflict
between the rights of the individual opposed to
the rights of the larger society.
The topic changes every two months; it is
chosen by the National Forensic League.
A round of Lincoln-Douglas Debate is the
debate of one person from one school
arguing against a person from a dif ferent
At a debate tournament, each student will
debate at least 3-4 times. The larger the
tournament, the more rounds will be
During a typical tournament, debaters will
argue both sides of the topic.
Usually, each debater will be assigned the
affirmative side for two rounds and the
negative side on two other rounds.
A Lincoln-Douglas debate round lasts about 45
minutes. The times for the various
speeches are very structured, as are the
purposes of the speeches.
6 minute Affirmative Constructive. This
speech is prepared ahead, rehearsed and
should be perfectly timed. It is a
presentation of the affirmative's position and
establishes his/her stance.
3 minute Negative Cross Examination.
The Negative asks for clarification, asks for
repetition of certain points, and tries to set
up the affirmative to admit damaging
7 minute Negative Constructive/
Rebuttal. This speech really has two parts:
The first part is a written, rehearsed speech
that builds the negative case and is about
four minutes long. In the second part, the
negative must attack his/her opponent's
points. The attack takes the last three
3 minute Affirmative Cross
Examination. Now it's the affirmative's turn
to question the negative, asking for
and trying to lead him/her down an ivy-covered
path to destruction.
4 minute Affirmative
Reconstructive/Rebuttal. The affirmative
doesn't have much time here, so she/he has to
talk fast. She/he must go down the flow
(outline) of the argumentation, hitting any
arguments against her/his own case and then
attacking each of her/his opponent's
arguments. Again, two parts: Rebuild and
6 minute Negative Reconstructive/
Rebuttal. This speech has three parts:
Rebuild, Attack and Crystallize:
about two minutes to rebuild any arguments
against the negative's own case; two minutes
to attack the affirmative; and two minutes to
summarize the voting issues for the judge.
3 minute Affirmative
Reconstructive/Rebuttal. This is a very
short speech--time only to argue the most
important points, attack the negative's voting
issues, and crystallize the affirmative's own
Our Team subscribes to publishers who create
A Brief is a collection of evidence, arguments,
current topic analysis, definitions, etc.
Briefs are helpful, but remember that other
teams may also have these collections
Evidence can also be found on the internet, but
only use CREDIBLE sources (NY Times, WA
You will need to write TWO speeches: the
affirmative (6 min.) that says that the
resolution is true and the negative (3-4 min)
that says that the resolution is false.
You will use your affirmative speech in two of
your debates and your negative speech in the
other two debates.
Step One: The Resolution.
The resolution is a statement
of the topic of the debate. The
entire debate is a test of the
validity of this statement.
Therefore, wording and
semantics are crucial.
Each important word must be
defined from different
After a brief opening
paragraph using the resolution
as the thesis statement,
or in the case of the negative,
its antithesis, you will state
Step Two: The Value
Remember that we said that
Lincoln-Douglas Debate is a
VALUE debate about what
ought to be, right?
Each debate speech will center
on a value that you choose as
the cornerstone of your position.
I know this seems very, very
Let’s clarify using a simple
Pretend the Resolution is:
Resolved: A cheeseburger ought
to be valued above spaghetti.
Before you can start arguing about
which of these two yummies is the
more valuable, you need to figure out
what yardstick to use to measure
them: Is it Good Taste? Nutritional
Value? Ease of Preparation? Aesthetic
The yardstick you choose is called your
Value Premise. Naturally, you will
choose the yardstick that you think will
help you win!
If you're debating for the cheeseburger,
you might take "Good Taste" as the
most important value; if you're taking
the side of spaghetti, you might claim
that "Nutrition" must be the value
by which to measure foods.
In this debate, the affirmative might
claim that if food doesn't taste good,
no one will eat it. The negative might
claim that nutrition is prime and that if
it's not good for the body, it's not good
food. From this example, you can see
that the debate should go back and
The value is achieved through certain
After you state your value premise,
you will name the
criterion or criteria that you will use to
achieve the value.
For example, for the value of
Nutrition, your criterion might be the
Four Food Groups, as set up by the
U.S. Dept of Health,
Education and Welfare.
Step Three: State arguments as main
points. You will need two or three
main points. The cheeseburger
affirmative might be:
Value: Common Good
Criterion: Quality of Life
Contention One: The cheeseburger
provides one of the basic needs of
mankind, according to Maslow's
hierarchy of basic needs.
Contention Two: The cheeseburger
provides nutrition from all four food
Contention Three: The
cheeseburger provides advantages
that the negative cannot provide,
including portability and ease of use.
The spaghetti negative
Spaghetti provides a high
standard of nutrition
needed for life.
Contention Two: A
cheeseburger is fat-filled
and therefore fails to
Step Four: Use evidence to
back up each point.
Evidence can consist of
quotes, reasoning, or
Step Five: Find a good
opening for the speech.
This can be an apt quote,
startling statistics, or
Step Six: Time the speech.
(Six minutes for the
affirmative exactly. About
three to four minutes for
At the beginning of a round, they will
post a listing of the debate rounds.
This is called the Pairings. It will
show your name, your opponent's
name, your judge, the room number,
and what side you are--aff or neg.
Write down your side and the room
number. If you forget, you'll have to
walk all the way back to the pairings.
Your audience is usually only one
person--the JUDGE. If you don't make
the judge respect you, you don't win
Try to figure out what the judge will
respect, and give it to her/him. Most
judges like friendly, helpful kids who
act as if they enjoy debating. Judges
can be coaches, teachers, former
debaters, community leaders, or
Judging is hard. A judge has to listen
carefully, take good notes, and
sometimes give time signals all at the
Just like students in a classroom ,
judges have other things on their minds
that sometimes cause their attention to
waiver. Therefore, plan to repeat
yourself. Just because you said
something once does not mean that
the judge heard it.
The judge will fill out a BALLOT
explaining the debate and why she/he
made the decision about who won.
NC (2nd part)
Attack on AC
(line by line,
line by line (2
The judge and both debaters will outline everything that is said in the round. This outline is called
in debate jargon a FLOW. The paper is called a FLOW CHART. Each person's flow chart will look
a bit different, but it should be neat and easily read.
When you go into the round, the
judge will sit in a student desk
in the center of the room. The
affirmative will use a desk in the
front left; the negative will use a
desk in the front right, although
this is not a rule.
You can rearrange the desks a
bit for your comfort, just put them
back before you leave the room.
You can take a bottle of water,
but no food or drinks.
Be pleasant and nice to your
opponent, but be a bit suspicious
until you know them. A few
debaters can be sneaky and mean.
Don't tell them anything that you
don't want used against yourself or
The judge will ask you for your
school code, name, and what side
you're on. The school code is
assigned at registration.
Sometimes they will want you to
write this on the board; sometimes
they will ask you to fill out the top
of the ballot with this information;
sometimes they will just ask you
You should already have
preflowed your own speech
on your flowchart before going
In the few minutes before the
round starts, you can organize
your flowchart, take out any
note cards you might need,
and focus your attention on
your particular stance.
The affirmative will stand, make
eye contact with the judge to
make certain he/she is ready,
and read his/her speech.
Debaters typically keep their
own time on a stop watch
At the end of the speech,
he/she will say, "I now stand
ready for cross examination."
will rise, stand beside the
affirmative and begin to ask
cross examination questions.
They do not look at each
Instead they look at the judge.
Each debater will have 4 minutes
of Preparation Time that they can
take whenever they like.
Usually the negative takes 2 minutes
his/her cross-ex and then another 2
minutes his second speech.
Usually the affirmative takes 2
minutes before each of his/her
The negative will then ROAD MAP
for the judge what he/she intends to
do. He/she will say, "I will first read
the negative case and then attack
my opponent's ridiculous position."
(Not really-- don't really say
"ridiculous"--just think it.)
Then he/she will read the four minute
speech. Next he/she will say, "I will
now turn to my opponent's case."
Turning to the flow pad, he/she will
attack all the points made by the
affirmative, showing why his case is
Any points he fails to attack are
considered dropped and are given to
the other side.
MOST COMMON NOVICE ERROR:
Failing to attack your opponent's case!
Now the debate goes back and forth in the same manner.
When it's over, shake hands with your opponent, thank
the judge for judging and leave the room.
Both opponents should go out together. It is considered bad
form for one to leave before the other.
The judge stays behind to make his decision (or s/he may
give oral critiques). Be careful of what you say when you
leave the room. If the judge hears you say that you think you
lost, it might persuade him that you did.
Now you can go purchase some really
“good” food at the snack bar!