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You know you’ve been in a situation like it before. You come up in your first affirmative constructive and give the 1AC that you’ve practiced over and over and have had it critiqued again and again. Then. It happens. Some negative team comes up in their 1NC or 2NC and presents and argument that is either contradictory, taken out of context, or based off of no warrants at all. When that happens, I just want to jump out of my seat, run to the judge, tell them that it’s completely wrong, and personally erase it off of their flowpad.

This happened several times during my three years in NCFCA. Most recently, at PHC debate camp, we ran the “Military Invitations” case in Ethos. Now, this case invites Russia to participate in two military exercises that the United States hosts. It has advantages of better relations and soft power. Now, every round, each team argued that Russia wasn’t going to agree to participate in the exercises, when I had pointed out in my 1AC that Russia didn’t NEED to participate in order to achieve the advantages. We had that argument each affirmative round.

Notgonnalie, every time I heard that argument I wanted to jump up and scream “DID YOU EVEN LISTEN to my 1AC?!!!” But I couldn’t do that. By the time I had gotten to the last affirmative round for us (quarterfinals) I had figured out what to do.

1. Write Out Responses. If you get responses written out ahead of time to your most-likely arguments, then it’ll be easier to just pull out that 4×6 card or piece of paper with the response on it and get it ready for your next speech.

2. Remember, most judges LISTEN to you. I know this may come as a shock to you all, but most judges actually listen to all of the speeches in the round. While there are some exceptions, most judges want to understand what you’re saying. You need to remember not to lose your cool at the table or during your speech.

3. Judges Watch the Table. A lot of times, when judges hear what they think is a good argument, they’ll look over to the table to see your reaction. STAY CONFIDENT. If the judges see you shocked and disheartened, they won’t expect a good response in the next speech. If you appear appalled, they won’t be inclined to vote for you. Just stay confident and do your thing.

Go Debate.

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