Debate Team: What I’ll Do Better Next Year

debate irl

This year was the first year I participated in the SEA Forensics Tournament hosted by ISKL (International School of Kuala Lumpur), and I had a blast! I was a finalist in Oral Interpretation (I read a passage from Life of Pi aloud dramatically, complete with Indian, British, and Muslim accents)… and our Debate Team didn’t even make it to quarter finals. It was our first year and we all learned a lot, and I’m not actually upset about it–I didn’t go to win. I went to have fun. Debating is something I love to do regardless of victory or defeat.

That being said, winning is fun. We came close to winning one of our three rounds, so we’re not completely hopeless! I put together a rather short list of things I could do better. So, future Kimberly–here’s some advice. Take it. 🙂

1. Have all of our contentions finished by the end of Christmas Break. You don’t need the stress of 5-hour Starbucks meetings. Plan to meet over the break and hash out all of your contentions. All of them. It saves you stress, and you actually can have a social life in the weeks leading up to ISKL.
Starbucks does work wonders, though—meet there whenever you can. The atmosphere provides for a great planning session as long as it’s under 3 hours. Many a brain boom was experienced with a cup of joe in hand.

2. Memorize the stats before the van trip. Trying to memorize stats (and continue to beef up our contentions, for that matter) while on the way to the competition is not the way you want to go, my friend. It’s much more relaxing to talk to friends on the drive down rather than attempt to furiously slave over debate like a kid trying to finish his Biology report on the bus before school.

3. POIs. This was your weakest point. You were too afraid and not informed enough to be able to confidently stand up and question the other side’s arguments. Make sure you’re actively trying to learn the material so that it become common knowledge to you. Only then can you think critically.

4. Bring lots of colorful pens and highlighters. Color is awesome. Use many colors in your notes. Don’t be that person who has to always borrow pens from other people. That was embarrassing.

5. Prepare for the crappiest topics first. Those ones are exactly the ones you’re going to get in the first rounds. Feminism? Vegetarianism? Political correctness? Yep… those topics. The ones you vowed to burn “after this was all over.” Remember those as you anticipate the preliminary rounds. They’ll be first up, more likely than not.

This is all the advice I have to give. The rest you know and have learned simply from being at the competition. The skills? You have them. Now go practice and prepare to tone those speaking muscles (… I don’t know, okay?) and kick butt when the opposition tries to thwart your claims!

{FYI: For those wondering, the picture at the top is of our debate team with some added captions I stuck in there to fit what’s probably going on… this picture so accurately reflects our team it’s scary.}

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