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Word conservation shows maturity in argumentation. If you’re willing to stop talking, it shows that you trust your words and logic to accomplish their intended purpose. If you’re looking to master word conservation, then this is the drill for you.

Step 1: Find your most complex argument. 

You know the one I’m talking about. Pick that behemoth that always puts your speech over time, but that you adore giving.

Step 2: Give it in 3 minutes.

Don’t speak quickly. Focus on explaining every link you need for the argument to stick.

Step 3: Give it in 2.5 minutes.

Keep the same speaking pace, but focus on removing the fluff in your argument.

Step 4: Give it in 2 minutes.

There’s still fluff you can cut out. I promise.

Step 5: Give it in 1.5 minutes.

Be sure and include all of the content and keep the same pace as in step 2. If necessary, rewrite your flow in a way that simplifies the links you need to make.

Step 6: Give it in 1 minute.

You should be at the bare bones of your argument at this point. Give your argument at least 3 times with this time frame, then present to someone who hasn’t been listening to your exercise and/or doesn’t know the argument. If they follow your analysis easily you’ve done well.

Step 7: Repeat with other major arguments until you’ve reached a point of strategic clarity and word conservation. 

Hint: One of the biggest mistakes we as debaters make is overusing adjectives. Instead of using extra words to amplify your argument, try using strong verbs and nouns to achieve peak-Hemmingway.

This drill is a life-saver for 1ARs in policy and 2ARs in LD, but every speech and every debater can profit from word conservation. Quickly and easily dispatching arguments frees up time to focus on the important issues in a round and prevents bored-judge syndrome.


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