There are two teams of three speakers in parliamentary debate. They are organized as follows:
1) 1st Proposition Speaker (5 min.)
3) 2nd Proposition Speaker (5 min.)
6) Proposition Rebuttalist (3 min.)
2) 1st Opposition Speaker (5 min.)
4) 2nd Opposition Speaker (5 min.)
5) Opposition Rebuttalist (3 min.)
As you can see, the proposition team speaks first and last, while the Opposition team gets what's called the "Opposition Block" in the middle of the debate all to themselves. This was designed because the proposition team usually has the disadvantage inherently, trying to prove something, so they get the final word, which evens things out. The numbers to the right of each speaker indicate the number of minutes he or she gets to speak.
1st and 2nd speakers: 5 mins. Rebuttalists: 3 mins.
Now that you know the basic structure of a debate round, I'll explain the jobs of each speaker and how it's generally achieved. I'll go in the order that they speak.
1st Proposition Speaker:
It is the role of the 1st proposition speaker to lay out the case for his team. Since he is the first speaker, he doesn't refute any of his/her opponent's points; instead, the 1st proposition speaker lays out the PRO's arguments in a neat and clear manner that the judge can easily digest and process.
Along with arguments, the 1st speaker generally defines the topic. Defining a topic means that the speaker takes a word in the topic and tells the judge exactly how it should be defined for the purpose of this debate. (E.g. Fast food does more harm than good. The PRO 1st speaker defines "harm than good" as in the health effects of fast food) Definitions are meant to narrow or widen the topic in such a way that it benefits the proposition side of the debate. At the same time, definitions have to meet this regulations:
- Cannot be unreasonable (like words with two different meanings; silly definitions)
- Have to be backed up by either a dictionary, source, stat, etc.
- Cannot make the debate impossible (This is a big one- watch out for it)
*Remember that only the 1st proposition speaker can define the topic. If he/she fails to, then no one else can.
*Also, remember that the CON side can argue against the definition if it doesn't meet any one of the three criteria listed above. If it does, then it is called an abusive definition, and can and should be challenged by the opposition. Be careful and know how to defend your definition against this. Debates are lost and won on definitions alone.
After definitions, the 1st proposition speaker can bring up plans or ways to implement their side of the topic.
Next, the speaker lists out his or her arguments. There should be about 4-5 depending on the length of your plan and definition. The points should have sufficient evidence, and these are always your strongest points.
Lastly, and this may or may not occur, opponents may heckle you or ask POIs during the 1st and 4th minute of your speech. An average speaker takes about 1-2 POIs per speech, but a great speaker will take 1 or none.
*Always make sure you fill your five minutes. It reflects poorly if you don't.