LD Strategy: The PR Method

The 1NC of LD is an interesting speech. You have a case to give, but you also have to respond to the case your opponent gave. Which do you deal with first?

Most of the LDers I watch do something like this: Read the entire NC as a script. Take a deep breath, (like you’re about to go scuba diving in the Atlantic) and then begin responding to the affirmative case top to bottom. If you’ve been running arguments in the NC like this, there’s a better way.

Order Matters

Ideas should always be presented in the order they need to be heard to maximize comprehension. This concept is called Logical Chronology, and it’s a basic rule of explanation that should guide every feature of your speech. Let’s apply it to scuba-diving LDers.

Resolution: Bears are Compassionate.

The affirmative team defined the term “Bears” as the Chicago Bears, a football team from the NFL. But your case defines bears as animals, not professional athletes. What do you do?

You’re going to need to beat your opponent’s definition to win. But if you blitz your opponents case only after you read yours, the judge is stuck waiting about 4-5 minutes before they hear any refutation to the most important argument in the round: the definition of the word bears. Here’s the result.

Definition: Bears are large, heavy mammals with thick fur and a short tail.
Standard: Approachability
Link: Basic Prerequisite
Contention: Bears are not Approachable

Oh hey remember that definition I told you to use without telling you why? Yeah, now I’m ready to compare it to my opponent’s.

Talk about confusing! Here’s a better way.

The PR Method

Here’s a way to cut through the confusion.

  1. Present your definitions.

  2. Respond to the opponent’s definitions.

  3. Present your value.

  4. Respond to the opponent’s value.

  5. Present your contentions.

  6. Respond to the opponent’s contentions.

Noticing a pattern here? At every argument class (categories like definition, res analysis, etc) in your case, present yours first and then respond to your opponent’s. Here’s what our round looks like now.

“Let’s kick things off with the definitions.
Definition: Bears are large, heavy mammals with thick fur and a short tail.

Reason to Prefer: Default Meaning. Animals came before football. Use the word “bears” in any normal sentence, and no one will assume you’re talking about NFL players unless that’s what the conversation has already been about. Without the resolution using other words that cue us into a sports context, it’s arbitrary to assume a context that specific. The default understanding of “bears” is as animals, so that’s the most reasonable way to understand them here. With that settled, let’s move to the standard…”

Definitions tell the judge what the words in the resolution mean. Now that we fully understand them, we can proceed to the rest of the case. This same method of presenting and responding is done to each argument class. So if you have a beef with your opponent’s standard (the weighing mechanism for fact resolutions), you’ll begin by presenting yours, and then responding to the opponent’s. Then you’ll present your contention, and finish by responding to your opponent’s contention. Feel free to end with a conclusion you’ve written, or just say thank you.

There’s a lot more to say on the NC. In an upcoming post, I’ll show you how to seize strategic control of the round by following a simple rule of time management. Stay tuned!