Resources for Students

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Examples and evidence

For every argument you make in a debate, examples and/or evidence are necessary to prove your point. Every debater should know how to use evidence in their speeches. Not only is it a requirement in the judge’s rubric, evidence also helps you provide real world context for your arguments. 

Evidence can take many forms: statistics, studies, examples, or illustrations. Try to provide at least two pieces of evidence for each point. In prepared debates, statistics and studies are expected because of the amount of time you have had to prepare. Whereas in impromptu debates, examples and your spec knowledge are all you have to draw on. In that case, focus on providing real world examples where the motion can be related. 

For beginning debaters

  • Do your research before a tournament. If you are going to a prepared tournament, you should have lots of evidence inserted into your arguments. For impromptu tournaments, do some general research before the tournament. When you get a motion, apply the knowledge you have on the topic to find examples where the motion is relevant. 
  • Introduce your examples at an appropriate time during your speech. Evidence should be used after your analysis in an argument or a piece of refutation. This allows the evidence to serve its function of furthering your already established argument. 
  • When using a statistic as a beginner debater, make sure to cite your sources. This is less of an issue in more advanced categories, but as a beginner, practice listing the source of your evidence. 
  • Use several kinds of evidence. Varying the types of evidence such as examples, statistics, and quotes makes for easier listening as a judge. 

For more advanced debaters

Evidence needs to have a function in your argument. Merely listing countries, or rattling off a statistic will not do anything to further your argument in a debate. Here are some tips to ensuring you are effectively using evidence in a debate:

  • Pick the epitome example. Rather than listing off three or four examples that are somewhat tied to your idea, try picking just one or two that are closely related to the point you are talking about. 
  • Explain why your evidence is important. When tight for time, it is tempting to toss off your evidence without discussing it. While this is better than having no evidence at all, it is more powerful to explain why your evidence is relevant to the argument you are creating. 
  • Use evidence in your refutation. Adding in statistics or examples to further hurt your opponent’s material can be very effective. Integrate it just like you would in argumentation. 

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