June 27, 2023

Captain’s Corner: Tips For Unpacking A New Topic

As the end of the month is in sight, a new resolution is right around the corner. Being presented with a new topic is often daunting.Here are a few tips to get started!

  1. Break down the resolution. 
  2. Pick out key topical words: Who might the actors be? Who might be affected?
  3. Pick out phrasing nuances: “On balance” may indicate cost benefit analysis. “Should” may indicate an action-promoting affirmative. Consider how “substantial” may be interpreted.
  4. Are there any words or concepts you are not familiar with? Define them.
  5. Identify the status quo. 
  6. What is happening right now? What might be good or bad about it? How might affirming change it?
  7. Need some inspiration? 
  8. Ask your coaches! Your coaches at Potomac Oak are always happy to help you learn more about strategies, the different nuances of debate, and the topics at hand.
  9. Check briefs! Organizations such as Champion Debate, DebateUS, and Victory Briefs all offer analysis and cards on the topic! While many of these briefs cost money, you can often find free versions on Discord or Reddit.
  10. Youtube! Watching videos on Youtube is a great way to gain background information in an engaging way. Various debate organizations provide recorded topic lectures for your viewing. 
  11. Let the research lead you!
  12. Instead of hunting down arguments that you’ve heard from within the debate community, allow yourself to explore various postures through online literature. 
  13. What are the most common perspectives? What argument is each perspective proposing? Consider the strength of each argument and how they might weigh against one another when choosing your contentions.

We hope that these tips help kickstart your journey on this new topic! We wish everyone the best of luck in their upcoming tournaments! 

P.S. The new Nocember topic is Resolved: The United States federal government should forgive all federal student loan debt.

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