The Final Focus

The final focus in Public Forum (PF) is the last speech that each side gives in the round. Importantly, it is the last speech the judge hears before they make their decision, so ending on a good note is critical. The final focus is also the shortest speech in the debate, clocking in at just two minutes. This means that efficiency will largely determine how effective your speech will be. For those trying to improve their final focus skills, I would strongly recommend efficiency-based re-dos, where the debater re-does a speech again and again, under increasingly harsh time constraints. For new second speakers, this is a great way to get used to the time constraints in the final focus.

What makes a good final focus? This speech will need to accomplish many of the same items as the summary. Extending your argument, frontlining your argument, and weighing your argument must all occur in the final focus speech. Additionally, the speaker should leave some time to address their opponent’s case and explain why they have failed to win their argument. However, there are some notable differences between the summary and the final focus. First of all, the final focus must crystallize and more heavily prioritize important points than the summary speech, which can afford to cover more arguments because the summary is a minute longer than the final focus. Especially for newer debaters, I would suggest collapsing on no more than one offensive argument in the final focus, and dedicating the rest of the time to weighing & beating back your opponent’s case.

Because the final focus is the last speech in the round, it is critically important that you help write the ballot for the judge in this speech. Point out positions that your opponents dropped/undercovered and places where you are clearly ahead in the debate. Then, explain why the areas you’re winning were the most important points in the debate. Keep in mind you should not be presenting any new arguments in the final focus. The only exception is that first final focus can make new weighing arguments (while second final focus cannot).