Are you looking to bring your affirmative case to the next level, but don’t know what to add? Here are the top five tips to help your aff rounds gain a new edge.
Tip #1: Memorize facts and quotes
The first time I saw this done with a quote was in outrounds at NCFCA nationals in 2015. The matchup was Engle/Vilim vs Baldacci/Hansen (widely considered the top two teams in the nation at the time) hitting in octafinals, and the round couldn’t have been closer. Though I don’t remember many specifics, I do remember this: Caleb started out his speeches with quotes he had fully memorized. And I mean fully memorized; he didn’t look down once. This meant that, instead of being locked onto the page, his eyes were focused on his audience, and his credibility was instantly apparent.
Now I’m not saying that you need to memorize your entire aff backup, but if there are quotes or facts that you consistently find yourself using in rounds, memorizing them will give you a new edge. Because every time you deliver a quote without reading your audience will see you as more credible, and your own confidence will skyrocket. Speaking from personal experience, I can say that without a doubt, memorizing quotes is worth the time.
Tip #2: Make a SUPER in depth response brief
Chances are if you’ve been to more than one tournament, you’ve already organized some of your main affirmative responses into a single brief or document. If you already know how to make a basic response brief or hit sheet, then you know how helpful it can be to have all your main arguments in the same spot ready to be used at the drop of a hat. But if your brief consists only of your main cards against certain arguments, you’re getting about 50% of the total benefit you can get out of a properly constructed aff hitsheet. What are you missing, you ask?
Well, response briefs exist to help you give the best responses possible. Therefore, in order to be the most useful, response briefs should include everything you need to give the best response you can give. And since the best responses are typically made up of figures of speech, rhetorical quotes, anecdotes, and facts, your brief should include it all. That way every aff round you’re primed to give perfect responses every single time.
Tip #3: Make a SUPER in depth topic chart
Making a topic chart is easy, and the benefits can be endless. Start with a blank spreadsheet. On the first column, put all the main themes of your case, split into sections for the aff and neg sides. Then once you’ve done that, work outwards, breaking down all of the main themes and topics into their separate component parts. Include all relevant historical facts, research data and figures of speech, but make sure nothing gets too crowded. Looking good? Great. Before every tournament, take a second with your partner to read through your new topic chart. Seeing your entire case spread out and split up into a “storyboard” of sorts will help you understand the overall narrative behind your case, as well as allowing you to better tell the story in round.
Tip #4: Research the history of themes (find the original thinkers)
Last year, my partner and I ran a case that was centered on the right to a jury trial. The case was designed so that if we could prove the absolute value of the jury trial right, we could win the round. The thing is, we only started successfully winning rounds after we started taking a step back and telling the judge the story behind our argumentation. Instead of just listing off all of the benefits of a right to a jury trial, we started telling the story of the people who fought for it, and our audiences retention and understanding skyrocketed.
What’s the moral of the story? Become intimately familiar with the original thinkers behind your theme, and start telling your audience the story. Because when your audience understands how a certain principle came to be held so dearly, they’re much more likely to stand up for that principle themselves. Don’t just debate on the surface; understand the story behind your themes, and tell your audience the tale.
Tip #5: Run a 1AC styled 2AC
It’s easy to get defensive when you’re on affirmative. With all the arguments the negative runs, it’s hard not to get bogged down in the nitty-gritty. But when you’re going aff, you should always strive to be on the offensive as much as possible, especially in the 2AC. Because even though the 2AC might feel like it exists solely for responses, it actually has much the same job as the 1AC. Just like your 1AC, the 2AC is meant to prove your case to your audience. This means that, exactly like in your 1AC, your 2AC should start out by asserting the theme behind your case and establishing whatever facts might be useful to your audience. And similar to your 1AC, your 2AC should end by talking about the unique benefits your case provides.
Essentially, think of your 2AC as a speech to educate your audience. Use it to tell a story, not just to respond to your opponent. Instead of simply defending your case, use your 2AC to shed new light on the issues at hand and sell your case to your audience.