How do I speak for three minutes?

Sometimes in a debate one of the hardest things can be speaking for three minutes. You might hear a topic and think how am I going to speak for three minutes on that? The best debaters use all the time available to them, so try some of these tips to help you get through to the double knock.

  • Speak slowly – often when we’re nervous we speak really quickly but if we speak slower, we’ll get better style marks and speak for longer.
  • Really develop each argument – talk about it in detail and try and think of two or three ways of explaining it, giving different example and analogies – if you need to make it go on for longer, imagine that nobody has understood you and you need to explain it again even more clearly, going through each step.
  • Unless you are the first speaker, you can take up a lot of time in your speech with rebuttal – make you rebut everything the speaker before you has said and anything from any other speakers on the other side that you want to pick up. Rebuttal shouldn’t be dismissed quickly – like developing your arguments, make sure you develop your rebuttal to make it really clear.
  • Beginnings and endings – if you have a rhetorical opening and closing and signpost your own and your partners points at the start and summarise them at the end – that might take up to a minute of your speech!
  • In an ideal world, if you had enough to say then you wouldn’t take more than 3 Points of Information. If however you’re going to run out of things to say really early, it’s better to take a couple more than to end before time. If this is going to happen try to spread them out rather than take them in a row.
  • If you are on the first half of the table, you should really try and make sure you have three arguments of your own – different from your partners – use the checklist to generate lots of arguments in a short time. If you are second half of the table – spend the 15 minutes coming up with as many arguments as you can and some of them will bound to be unused by your turn.
  • If it is not going to be possible to do a five minute speech with new arguments and rebuttal you are going to have to repeat points that have already been made. If you need to do this, try to fool the judges by giving them a different name and using different details and examples. If the worst comes to the worst and you have finished your points and there is a minute left, do a very detailed summary of your points (i.e. repeat your own points). This is not ideal, but will lose less marks than sitting down early.

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