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lessismore-jpgRunning fewer arguments in round helps you in two critical areas of speaking: in your content and in your delivery.


Running fewer arguments leads to better or higher quality arguments that are more likely to persuade the audience, for the following reasons.

  1. More time for each point. This means more attention and focus for each point.
  2. The Judge is more likely to remember each argument. Oftentimes, no matter how many dropped arguments there are, the team that more effectively conveys a theme wins the ballot This is not the case for every round, but is a general principle.
  3. Higher level of analysis and less superficial argumentation. Using only a few arguments provides the opportunity for opposing teams to respond, and still reign victorious. The best arguments are the ones that survive refutation and still rise in glory. Your arguments should be able to withstand strong analysis and still come out on top. That way, you’ll have stronger arguments and be more likely to win the rest of your rounds in the future. Speeding might help you just this one time in this one round (even then, chances are it won’t) but in the long-run, it never helps as a strategy.
  4. Opens avenues. Running fewer arguments provides the opportunity to employ Shell & Extend, a highly effective strategy.
  5. Easier application. The less you claim, the less you have to prove. Just make sure you prove what you do claim.


Fewer arguments help delivery in the following ways: Slower delivery, more pathos, and increased confidence.

  1. Fewer arguments correlate with a slower, purposeful delivery. Running few arguments almost always leads to a slower delivery. You are more likely to think before you speak.

I’ve heard from a very successful debater that:

  • Slow = Smooth
  • Smooth = Fast
  • Therefore, Slow = Fast

What this means is that a slow delivery oftentimes is more efficient than a fast one. That is, oftentimes, you are able to get through more content effectively when you are speaking slowly.

  1. Running fewer arguments also helps you to develop pathos with your audience since you have more time to focus your energy on persuading to believe the arguments.
  1. Moreover, running fewer arguments correlates with running the arguments you actually believe in. Genuinely believing one is right is a HUGE confidence booster.

Storytime: Several weeks ago I debated Negative against a plan to allow American companies suspected of being hacked by China to decode their cyber information. Since my partner and I didn’t have much evidence, we naturally argued only two main arguments. As a result, we were forced to spend a lot more time on each of those points (solvency and inherency). I found myself becoming much clearer since I was able to elaborate much more – with explanations, illustrations, and logic. We ended up losing that round. However, I enjoyed the round because I learned and experienced firsthand the tangible implications of debating with only a couple arguments.

In short: Quality over quantity.

joshua-headshotJoshua Anumolu is in his fourth year of speech and debate. Last year, he was blessed to place 6th at the NCFCA National Championship in Team Policy debate. For him, competitive debate is about learning how to communicate truth effectively. Every round he lost, was a round he learned from to become a better communicator. He believes true mastery of rhetoric is accomplished when one finds their own balance between ethos, pathos, and logos. He loves to use debate as a platform to inform the audience of issues he cares about.

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