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This is the first speech of the debate and is known as the “AC” or “1AC.”
Here, the Affirmative (Aff) will present their prewritten case for 6 minutes. They will have a “Framework” (setting up a philosophical way to view the round) and “Contentions” (arguments about the topic that connect back to their framework).
First, it should have just the right number of offensive arguments. Too many debaters will only read one undifferentiated contention, which gives them few options if their opponent successfully deals with that contention. On the other hand, some debaters will read several short, blippy contentions, where none of the contentions are truly viable options. The solution is to strike a balance – only include a contention if it’s developed enough to go for in the 2AR, but try to not just make one argument. Having two contentions is often a good balance.
Second, have an awareness of what your opponent will be reading, based on perusing your opponent’s Wiki. If they tend to go for Kritik arguments, perhaps then there should be preemptive answers to those Kritiks; the same goes for theory arguments. If they are likely to spend a lot of time turning your contention, reading a more fleshed out version might be prudent.
Third, it should be timed properly. This sounds trivial, but too many debaters run out of time when reading their cases. Given that the 1AC is entirely scripted, there is no excuse for the speech not being on time. Make sure that you time your case before the tournament (during the morning for speaking drills is often a good idea) so that everything can be read in time. While the amount of time spent on various portions of the case will depend, this should be pre-planned.
Fourth, don’t read something in the 1AC that you aren’t prepared to defend. One way that the Neg can catch the Aff off guard is to read an impact turn to an impact the Aff wasn’t ready to defend. If you aren’t able to defend a portion of the 1AC against turns, Kritiks, etc., then it shouldn’t be read. An example of this would be reading a “proliferation bad” impact that’s only a few cards long but then not having prepped an impact turn like “proliferation good.”