How to Prepare For a Debate?

how to prepare for a debate

Did you know that more than 75% people in the USA are afraid of debate. And this fear is generated because these individuals don’t know how to prepare for a debate.

In fact, while growing up the thought of debating in front of tens and hundreds of people wrecked my nerves. I thought I was incapable of speaking publicly and participating in debate competitions.

Later, I realized that I possess every quality. And with a little help and push, nothing can beat me. But just because I blamed it on my skills doesn’t mean you have to.

Learn how to own the podium with 7 easy tips and shine bright.

What is Debate and why is it Necessary?

According to Merriam Webster debating is regulated arguments between two sides. Each side has to produce its set of arguments and counter the opponent.

Why are Debates Important?

  • Debating helps you present your point of view concretely. Once you hone your skills, you’ll automatically know how to talk your mind with a few words.
  • Debates are a great pass-time activity among friends. You can learn about various socio-political issues and have a good time.
  • Debates are an excellent way for students to gather knowledge for their future reference.
  • Debates are necessary for politicians as they help them present their reformation ideas in front of the world.

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5 Problems Students face while Preparing for Debate

Imagine a hand; are all the five fingers similar? NO!

Similarly, not everyone has innate debating or public speaking skills. Some have anxiety issues, while others lack proper structure and confidence.

person thinking

Thus, for these individuals, debating becomes a challenge, and they need help understanding how to prepare for a debate.

Some common difficulties students face while preparing for a debate are:

  • Overtly Anxious: Students often become conscious while speaking in public, which leads to anxiety attacks.
  • Lack of a proper debate structure: New debaters often don’t know how to structure debate structures, and slows their preparation process.
  • Not Confident Enough: Some students don’t feel confident enough to go on stage due to lack of knowledge and self-esteem.
  • Poor Delivery Skills: Some students don’t know how to concrete their arguments, and thus they cannot deliver it properly.
  • Cannot choose an Argument: Sometimes, students don’t understand which point to keep and which point to omit, which delays preparation.

These problems often become a wall between students and their debating skills. However, if you learn the right strategies, you can overcome these issues and become a great speaker.

Struggling with your debate skills? Check out some of these effective courses that will enhance your skills and make you a pro debater.

To get good at debating, you must first understand the structure of debate and the right ways to argue.

How to choose the Right Argument?

Choosing the argument is one of the debate’s most challenging yet interesting parts. Moreover, your most convincing arguments depend on how precisely you have chosen your argument side.

Here are some factors you must remember while choosing the right debate argument:

1. What is the point of your argument

A strong point is the base of your argument. However, you need to support arguments with evidence to drive home the point.

2. Evidence to support your argument

Evidence cements the argument. Research, come with examples and data to make your arguments stronger, concrete. Stronger your evidence, the better debater you are.

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3. Explain your point

Alright, so you have your point and the data; now what? A good debater knows how to explain their points and bind the adjudicator towards them while speaking. Breakout your points in smaller sections and present them while you speak.

The Perfect debate Structure

A good debate structure is like a chess board, where each speaker has a job role.

Generally, a debate is sectioned into three parts

  • The introduction of the debate topics and debaters
  • The argument section where speakers fight for their side
  • The conclusion where speakers wrap their arguments

Each opponent has a time limit, within which they must present their idea. So, if you want to prepare for a debate, you must learn your role as a debater. Whether you are with your team or alone, the structure remains the same, only your responsibilities will increase.

Find out more about the role of a debaters:

First Affirmative First Negative
Provide the outline of the debate topic clearly Redefine the debate topic (Produce the negative side of the opponent’s definition)
Tell them how you will proceed with the arguments Tell the reason you disagree
Present your arguments confidently Present the counterargument or the rebuttal
Address your other team members’ roles (If you are debating with a team) Address your team member’s roles


Second Affirmative Second Negative
Produce rebuttals to your opponent’s negative arguments with your arguments Repeat your actions and rebut the second negative
Resolve if there is any definition issue Counter the second affirmative
Present at least two new rebuttals on the table



Third Affirmative Third Negative
Counter the second negative’s new arguments Counter second affirmative’s specific attacks
Conclude your argument with a summary Conclude your argument with a summary
Don’t add new information now Don’t add new information now

So, this is how you structure your arguments and own the debate.

Watch this video and notice how well the opponent has presented his ideas.

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7 Essential Tips on how to Prepare for a Debate

The ultimate tip to prepare for a debate is to find your self-confidence.

That said, there are several small yet vital factors to remember while preparing for your debate. These factors include:

1. Understanding the topic

To excel as a debater, you must first understand your debate topic. Read your debate topic and understand the focus areas. Next, choose your side.

If you choose to be on the negative side, then first, find out the negative arguments against your topic. Finally, research and find positive arguments regarding the topic and start working on new arguments.


2. Study your opponent

Never forget to study your opponent. Notice everything, from their ways of arguing and flaws to their strength.

Studying your opponents not only helps you understand their plan but also gives you a better perspective. If your opponents are more experienced, then take it as a benefit. You can study their earlier debates and find out how they present a topic’s positive and negative sides.

Moreover, this will help you understand how they manipulate specific arguments to present their points.

study your opponent to own a debate

3. Control over your emotions

Control over your emotions is one of the most important tips you must remember while preparing for a debate. You must remember that you cannot get personal while debating.

As a debater, your job is to stick to the topic and produce rebuttals. Remember not to get defensive about your opponent’s arguments. You are here to convince your opponents with your own opinion, not fight with them.

control your emotions when debating

4. Be Confident

Confidence is one of the important skills you need to acquire to become a successful debater.

Remember earlier when I said the thought of participating in debate competitions wrecked my nerves during childhood? It happened due to lack of my confidence. Thus, you have to understand that you are worth it no matter what.

Even if you lose now, there’s always the next time. The more confident you are, the calmer you will be. And once you debate with a calm demeanor, there’s nothing you can’t achieve.

confidence is the key

5. Don’t ignore using technical terms

Your debate stage is similar to your research paper. In both cases, you have to showcase your knowledge and present arguments.

Therefore the aim is to let your adjudicator know how well you have researched. Especially if you are participating in a class debate, your adjudicators are your teachers. Hence, you have to ensure that your research is evident.

6. Stick to your point

Sticking to your point will help you in multiple ways in debate. Firstly, it will make your speech engaging. Secondly, it will help you with time management.

Most importantly, sticking to your point will prevent you from getting lost in your arguments. So, say exactly what you need to and not what you want to.

7. Stun your adjudicator with a stellar conclusion

Your conclusion should be as interesting as your introduction speech and arguments. That’s because your conclusion will help you prove to your adjudicator that you have successfully presented your arguments.

So, remember to conclude your argument with confidence. Make eye contact with your opponents and adjudicator, and believe that you are the winner, whatever the result.

Do you want more such tips?

Check out “Is Public Speaking a skill? Can it Be Learned?” Today!


How can I become a successful debater?

The two essential skills you need to become a successful debater are belief and self-confidence. You need to believe that you are capable of facing your adjudicator and opponent and presenting your ideas.

The rest will fall into place.

What are some mistakes that I can avoid as a debater?

Avoid these mistakes as a debater: Mistake 1: never interrupt your opponents when they are speaking. Mistake 2: Don’t carry notes with you on-stage. Mistake 3: Do not directly address your adjudicator

Can I practice debates outside my classroom?

Yes, you can practice debates anywhere you want to. It can be your bedroom or with your friends. And if you need to brush up on your debate skills, you can check out EnthuZiastic’s exclusive public speaking courses.

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The mantra to become a successful debater is up to you. Preparing for your debate will be a cakewalk if you believe in yourself.

Remember, you have got this, and do not panic. And try to enjoy your time as much as possible. Good luck!


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