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When you’ve finished putting up the Christmas tree, you don’t call it done then walk away. You have to decorate it and make it beautiful too. Likewise when you finish writing the arguments for your speeches, you shouldn’t just call it done and walk away, you should also decorate them using figures of speech and make them beautiful to listen to. There are a few reasons why you would want to add figures of speech to your speech:

  1. To keep the judge engaged. After beginning to judge rounds this year, I’m noticing just how easy it can be to lose track of what a debater is talking about while thinking about my feedback on the ballot, who won which argument or anything else. But making your speech enjoyable to listen to will help keep judges engaged and thinking about what you’re saying right now in the debate round.
  2. To increase clarity. While some judges may be good with tracking all the arguments and statistics in your speech, others may have a harder time connecting all the dots, especially with the lack of time they are given to think about it in a given debate round. Some forms of figure of speech can help paint a clearer picture for the judge such as metaphors and imagery. Even figures of speech such as parallelism can’t make your speech easier to follow by adding structure.
  3. To make it memorable. When I look back at my first two years in NCFCA over 6 years ago, there isn’t a whole lot I remember clearly, but the things I do remember generally were on some level figures of speech, such as the metaphors and repetition they used.

Now that you know why to use figures of speech here are a few of what I consider the best one to use in a debate case

  1. Parallelism. Parallelism is 2 or more words or phrases in a series that have the same grammatical structure. Ex. “The marvels of creativity, the wonders of ingenuity, and the miracles of innovation” This one is great for debate since it is really easy to make anytime you have multiple items in a series or similar phrases without sounding forced.
  2. Imagery, metaphors, similes and personification. I put these three together since they all serve a similar purpose of being a more unusual way to describe a given object or idea. These can definitely be over done, but a couple well done can really help your case be more understandable and compelling to your judge.
  3. Climax and Anticlimax. Climax is items in a series that keep getting greater ex. “the nation, the world and the universe” And anticlimax is the same thing but with the last one being, well, anticlimactic ex. “The nation, the world, or maybe just the city” These can be good for for impacting out just how good the advantages of your side can be, or just how disappointing your opponent’s side can be
  4. Snowclone. This is basically taking a common quote and twisting it a bit. Ex. “Patrick Henry once said “Give me liberty, or give me the proactionary principle” This can be a good way to add humor into your rounds.

These are just a few of the possible figures of speech you could include in your case and I highly suggest you look up others

D. J. an economics major at North Carolina State University. Her debate philosophy is that debate should be fun for everyone, so keep it ethical so your opponent can enjoy the round, keep it entertaining so the judge enjoys it, and keep it lively and humorous so you can enjoy the round too.

To learn more about D. J. you can read her bio here: https://www.ethosdebate.com/djmendenhall/ or book coaching with her here: https://www.ethosdebate.com/xl-3/

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