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Prepping for Impromptu Debates

Within SEDA there is an even split between prepared and impromptu tournaments. In both instances it is beneficial to learn how to prep cases efficiently. Long term if you want to be a competitive debater, you need to develop your impromptu prep skills so you can remain consistent and be confident even when dealing with hard motions. Prep time before a round is typically 30 minutes, although if tournaments are running behind, directors will occasionally cut prep by 5 or 10 minutes. 

Here are a few guidelines to help you learn how to prep for impromptu

  1. Look for important words in the motion
    • a) Actors (ex. Children, parents, government)
    • b) Should or justified – need to prove why there is a moral or practical imperative
    • c) Relevant themes (ex. Environment, legal, education)
  2. Figure out why we are having the debate
    • a) Identify the problem that the motion is attempting to solve 
    • b) How is the motion going to change the status quo?
  3. Beyond the actors explicitly stated in the motions, what other actors are impacted by the resolution, and what side of the motion do they all fit under? 
  4. Figure out what kind of motion this is
    • a) Recognize the kind of motion and plan how you will meet the burdens for your side
    • b) Read more about burdens 
  5. The motion needs a model if:
    • a) The motion heavily implies the need for a plan
    • b) Limitations on a group or action is needed
  6. Walkthrough the case with your partner
    • a) Do your arguments actually prove what you want them to? 
    • b) Do you have the most important arguments?
    • c) Are there any contradictions that your need to fix?
    • d) Does your case have a consistent central premise?

X is bad 

Proposition Opposition
The amount or nature is harmful It is not really a problem
The amount or nature causes the harms It is caused by something else
The harms outweigh the benefits The benefits outweigh the harms

The ends justify the means

Proposition Opposition
There is a big problem The problem is really something else
Only x can solve it It is better left to some other group
The benefits outweigh the harms The harms outweigh the benefits

X has failed

Proposition Opposition
There is an established set of criteria that works towards x goal Its actual purpose if something else
It is not meeting its criteria or goal It’s getting there, we just need more x
The failure is causing significant harms The harms are small compared to the current or potential benefits 

Practice prep

Practice prepping motions on your own or with a partner with reduced time. Give yourself 10 minutes to walk through prep right up until full argument development. The more you practice prepping for motions, the more patterns you’ll notice for different debates, making it easier to prep. 

Downloadable Resource

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