How to Win a Lincoln-Douglas (LD) Debate Round

First, consider your audience. Unlike Policy debate, LD judges are very ideologically diverse. One group of judges and debaters have begun treating LD like one-person Policy, emulating many of the conventions of Policy debate. Here, debaters may read Plans, Counterplans, Disadvantages, and Kritiks, speaking quite quickly. This is due to the perceived competitive advantage these positions have. Yet another group of judges and debaters is more “traditional,” attempting instead to preserve the classic form of LD as a values debate that is slower and more persuasive.

As a result, you will want to carefully consider how you debate based on the audience in question. If you have a more “Policy” or “Circuit” judge, you can choose to speak more quickly and read arguments from Policy. With a “Traditional” judge, however, you should speak more slowly and focus on the philosophical questions of the topic.

Second, make sure to do strong research in advance of the tournament. LD rounds are very research-based (especially on the national circuit) and strong refutations cannot make up for a lack of good evidence. Make sure your case is as strong as possible and make sure you’ve thought through all elements of your opponent’s cases.