How To: Debate Preparation Before a Tournament

Post by Tom Cronin
How To: Debate Preparation Before a Tournament

What to Do Before a Debate Tournament Starts?

Debating is a valuable skill that has a lot of benefits for students. It helps with critical thinking, persuasion, and public speaking, among other things. Participating in debate tournaments is an exciting opportunity for students to showcase the skills they have learned in a competitive setting. But how can you ensure that you’re well-equipped for the competition? In this blog post, we’ll cover the essential steps you should take to prepare for a debate tournament.

Research and prepare your arguments

To be successful in a debate tournament, you need to have a solid understanding of the topics you will be arguing. Research the topics and gather information so that you have a lot of evidence to back up your points. Make sure that you have a clear understanding of what each side of the argument is. Once you have done your research, organize your points and practice your arguments.

Practice your public speaking skills

Debates are not just about the content of your arguments; they are also about how you present them. It’s essential to work on your public speaking skills before a debate tournament. Practice speaking clearly, projecting your voice, and using body language to emphasize your points. Make sure that you’re confident in the delivery of your arguments. Consider practicing in front of a mirror or recording yourself to improve your performance!

Collaborate with your debate partner

If you’re participating in a team debate, it’s essential to work collaboratively with your partner. You need to be on the same page and have a shared understanding of your arguments. Practice your arguments together, and get feedback from each other. Consider each other's strengths and weaknesses and split up the work in a way that will utilize each other's strengths and minimize weaknesses. For instance, if your partner enjoys thinking on their feet and analysing arguments, then perhaps they should focus on rebuttal speeches. 

Be familiar with tournament rules

Each debate tournament has its own set of rules and regulations that you need to be familiar with. For instance, World Schools Debate has a completely different structure and rule set to Public Forum. Learn about the format of the tournament, the number of rounds, and how time limits work. Familiarize yourself with the judging criteria, including how points are awarded. Understanding the rules of the tournament will help you participate confidently and avoid unnecessary mistakes! Somethings like the use of evidence may be common place in many formats but not allowed in others! It is also very important to be familiar with the allocated amount of prep time before & during rounds of debate.

Get plenty of rest before the competition

Lastly, this one goes without saying and shouldn't come as a surprise; it's crucial to get plenty of rest before the debate tournament! Being well-rested will help you think more clearly and stay focused. Avoid cramming the night before the tournament; instead, get a good night's sleep and give yourself time to mentally prepare for the competition.


Participating in a debate tournament is an exciting opportunity for students to showcase their skills. With the right preparation, you can have a successful and enjoyable experience. Make sure to research and prepare your arguments, practice your public speaking, collaborate with your debate partner, familiarize yourself with the tournament rules, and get plenty of rest before the competition. Remember that debating is not just about winning or losing, but it’s also about learning and improving your skills. Good luck and have fun!

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Post by Tom Cronin