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We Are Organized

The Stoa core value for February is “We are organized and communicate effectively.” These are essential for debate, too, and, in fact, are both elements of the debater points awarded on the ballot. Getting organized is a simple concept, but it takes practice to do it well.

In Team Policy Debate, having well-organized evidence is critical if you are going to use your prep time efficiently. Some of you have card boxes and others choose Neg briefs. Both require some sort of organization and the ability to quickly look up the information you need. Having a table of contents of some sort is a great way to quickly find your evidence. Always stay familiar with what evidence you have and where it is located.

Organization during the round is what can set you apart from the opponent. Hunting for evidence during a speech or cross-examination usually goes something like this:

“Can I see your evidence from Harm 2, Subpoint B?”

“Sure. Let me look here (starts rifling through stack of evidence). Uh...that was Harm 2? (Continues rifling.) Uh…can ask me another question?”

“Okay. What will be the…”

“Here it is!!! Is this what you wanted?”

This exchange makes one debater look much less prepared. Can you tell which one? This can be avoided by following these steps:

  • As you are pre-flowing your arguments during your opponent's speech, write a ① on your flow, tag the evidence with a small sticky note, and write a ① on the sticky note.

  • Turn the evidence upside down and move on to the next argument.

  • When reading the next evidence, write a ② on the flow, tag the evidence with a sticky note, and write a ② on the sticky note.

  • Turn upside down and put on top of the first evidence.

  • Continue the sequence with the rest of the evidence, creating a stack.

  • When you have completed the process, turn your evidence right-side up.

There it is! In order with your flow from top to bottom and tagged according to the argument. Now when your opponent is cross-examining you, the exchange can be more like this:

“Can I see your evidence on Harm 2, Subpoint B?”

“Sure. It’s right here!”

Congratulations, you are organized…at least with your evidence presentation. Now, go clean up your room!

Keep calm and debate on.

Your Stoa Debate Committee


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