How to Prepare for a Debate Competition and Win – 7 Steps

how to prepare for a debate

How to prepare for a debate and win -Debate competition is one of the essential activities in various settings which involve formal discussion by which arguments are put forward with opposing viewpoints to convince the opposition and the audience that you are right.

Two sides are meant to support or speak against a specific topic in a structured manner within a speculated period. Then a winner emerges after the judge carefully looks at which side is most convincing with relevant points.

Before diving into the main topic, you must know the meaning of a debate and various types of debate.

What is a Debate?

A debate is a formal communication which involves speaking for or against an issue or law and usually ends with a vote or winner. A debate is often conducted in public gatherings, legislative assemblies or colleges.

how to prepare for a debate

Debates are guided by specific rules mandated for debaters to abide by and are presided over by a judge or moderator whose aim is mostly to declare the winning sides or organize the debate.

Types of Debate

There are different types of debate, and we will discuss each one of them below;

1. Parliamentary Debate

The parliamentary debate takes place to support or speak against a proposed law or make amendments to already laws and practices; it is the most common debate. It requires a deep sense of persuasion and reasoning because it is essential for decision-making.

This type of debate constitutes two sides speaking for or against a specific law, and the proposing side is the “Government,” while the opposing side is known as the “Opposition”, and the judge is known as the speaker.

However, the debaters will be given twenty (20) minutes for preparation, also known as ‘prep’, before each round. At the same time, the parliamentary debate consists of six speeches (four constructive and two rebuttal speeches) in each round.

2. Academic Debate

Academic debate is a formal discourse which entails students bringing up their viewpoints on a given topic by educational institutions to improve students’ grammar and sentence construction.

An excellent academic debate is not majorly focused on determining the winner but held for students’ learning, thinking faculty and improvement in their intellectual skills.

3. Cross-Examination Debate

Cross-examination involves two speakers by which an opponent debater throws a question to the other debaters to clarify and comprehend each other’s viewpoints. This type of debate is one of the most exciting as it encourages pro-activeness and massive engagement.

However, an excellent cross-examination debate helps to build up confidence with the persuasion of the speakers with the end goal of winning more points.

4. Team Policy Debate

Team policy debate is the most prevalent debate in high schools and colleges. It consists of two teams, each containing two (2) debaters presenting a vast and precise collection of evidence from their research within a specified period.

The team policy debate entails the sum of eight speeches (four constructive and four rebuttals) together with cross-examination; this type of debate is held to increase students’ ability for teamwork and educational skills.

5. Lincoln-Douglas Debate

The Lincoln-Douglas debate allows people to speak constructively and emphasizes their philosophy. It is primarily familiar among high schools in the United States and helps students communicate clearly and persuasively.

The main reason the Lincoln-Doughlas debate is held is to instil in the participant a convincing tone and ability to deliver precise and constructive viewpoints.

6. Spontaneous Debate

Spontaneous debate is a type of debate held between two (2) debaters to contend against a particular topic to improve their confidence, debate and speech skills.

However, this type of debate does not require much research and collection and is often held among colleges and universities.

How to Prepare for a Debate and Win

In high school, I was selected for a debate competition I had no clue about; I had to read books explaining how to prepare for a debate and research on the internet as you are already doing.

However, I did excellently well, and it was due to my due research and practice. Perhaps this article will contain all the techniques essential for you to prepare for a debate competition, and as well become the winner.

1. Understand your topic

Getting familiar with the debate topic is the first step in preparing for a debate competition, as you have to get a clue and know whether you are to speak for or against the given topic. Then it will be easier to study effectively and be confident that you are on the right path.

Always ensure you comprehend what the topic is all about, and then it will be easier to develop your viewpoints, and you should do well to share your points of view with your teammates if you have any.

2. Arguments for both sides

Good debaters always suggest that you should not only prepare your supportive points of the debate but also be able to predetermine the perspective of your opponents. Doing this will help you throw criticism at their stance to discredit them and ultimately win you more points.

Please do not underestimate your opponents, as they might want to throw you a question that will make you go unbalanced, but evaluating their stance on the topic before the debate will make you win; hence it is one of the ways to prepare for a debate.

3. Research and come up with facts

Presenting viewpoints backed up with facts and stats will go a long way for you in winning a debate, the judge cares less about your seriousness or tone, but they rather focus on how you support your stance with relevant and connected facts.

In a debate, you should use more ‘according to’, quote adages and give credit to the owner. Doing this will not only make the audience interested in what you want to present; hence it will make you earn more points than others.

However, it will greatly help you if you can learn more about the given topic by reading blog posts, magazines, journals and other pieces connected to what you are supporting and extracting relevant points from them, which is called research.

4. Be Confident

Be clear and precise with your viewpoint, and also remember that your stance on a given topic is right – not arrogant- and it will help you develop your confidence.

Also, you can start speaking in front of a mirror and maintain constant contact with yourself, this will not only build confidence, but it will improve your body language and make you speak with beaming smiles.

how to prepare for a debate

Making constant noise and eye contact can help build confidence, and if you have a calm and cool demeanour, you should be sure that you will win the debate competition.

5. Set a time limit

When rehearsing for a debate competition, you should set a time frame for yourself and constantly exercise the habits to round up your viewpoints before the schedule elapses, this will greatly help you to finish up before the speculated time set for each debater, and there is an extra point for that.

Using a timer or stopwatch will be great during your rehearsal, and you should learn how to shorten your sentences. For instance, “it is imperative for you to know that” can be shortened to “you must know that,” doing this will not only help to save time but helps your audience understand your sentence clearer.

6. Know the rules

Getting familiar with the debate rules will make you not to be guilty of them; this is one of the ways to prepare for a debate competition. Interrupting a speaker, using false facts and using ‘uhms’ and ‘ehms’ is one of the don’ts of a debate. If you are caught doing any of the acts that are against the debating rules, then you will be penalized.

Knowing the dos and what you should avoid in a debate is one way of getting prepared, as it will ultimately give you more points, which might pave the way for you to become the winner. However, you can learn more about the debating dos and don’ts.

7. Team Work

A former US President, Winston Churchill, once said, “United we stand, divided we fall.” Applying this wonderful quote to our topic implies that working together as a team will greatly help you win in a debate.



Teamwork cannot be overemphasized as it involves you and other people of the same opinion as yours sharing ideas, and it helps to recognize each other’s deficiencies and find a way to improve them.

Ensure you read through your teammates’ viewpoints and let them read yours, practice in front of each other’s and don’t be hesitant to correct them and accept their amendments if necessary.


Participating and preparing for a debate competition might be demanding and rigorous, but it helps build your thinking faculty and improve your speaking skills.

However, putting the abovementioned tips into practice will greatly help you and pave your way to winning a debate competition. We hope you have learned from this article and do well to share it with others.

About Abayomi

Abayomi is an education student and a certified content and prolific writer in Nigeria who is concerned with serving scholars across all nations with in-depth research and quality content.

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