About Public forum debate

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HM Debate participates in local and national Public Forum Debates. The Public Forum Style consists of:

Team A (Speaker 1 and Speaker 3).  Team B (Speaker 2 and Speaker 4).  Teams flip a coin before the round, and the winner may choose either the affirmative or negative or to speak first or second.


  • Speaker 1 Constructive - 4 Minutes
  • Speaker 2 Constructive - 4 Minutes
  • Crossfire (Speakers 1 and 2) - 3 Minutes
  • Speaker 3 Rebuttal - 4 Minutes
  • Speaker 4 Rebuttal - 4 Minutes
  • Crossfire (Speakers 3 and 4) - 3 Minutes
  • Speaker 1 Summary - 2 Minutes
  • Speaker 2 Summary - 2 Minutes
  • Grand Crossfire (All Speakers) - 3 Minutes
  • Speaker 3 Final Focus - 2 Minutes
  • Speaker 4 Final Focus - 2 Minute



Each team presents their argument in a four-minute opening speech called the constructive.  The constructive usually begins with a framework for the round, a way the team believes the judge should look at the resolution and the grounds it believes should constitute a win for their team.  In other words, what each team thinks and believes its opponents have to prove to win.  The case is then divided into contentions, individual arguments or paragraphs that together form the overall advocacy.  For example, the first contention might look at economic impacts, the second at social impacts, and the third at a moral obligation.



Each team's first speakers have the chance to ask each other questions for 3 minutes.  The first speaking team can ask the first question and from there the speakers go back and forth on the matters brought up in the constructive.  This is a great time to force your opponents to concede a point or point out a contradiction in their argument.



Each team has the chance to rebut their opponents arguments for four minutes.  The rebuttal should be composed of both specific responses to opponents' evidence and analysis and broader responses to opponents' general arguments.  You can also go back to your own case and further support your arguments with new logic and evidence. 



Each team's second speakers have the opportunity to ask each other questions for 3 minutes in the same format as the first crossfire.



Each team has the opportunity to solidify the most important points of the round in a two-minute summary.  Different people approach the summary in different ways, but you primarily want to clarify the round for the judge by outlining the main issues and explaining why you are winning.  You should focus on weighing the impacts of your arguments with your opponents'.


The same as the earlier crossfires except all speakers participate.


Each team concludes with a two-minute final focus.  Essentially, you want to tell your judge why you have won the round, specifically why the judge should vote for you and not the other team.

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