Category Archives: Drills/Practice

Six Lessons Debaters Can Learn From AOC’s Cross-Examination of Mark Zuckerberg

U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is an excellent cross-examiner. Most congressional hearings are mind-numbingly boring, but AOC’s ability to dismantle witnesses has generated many productive and entertaining exchanges. Debaters can learn a lot about effective cross-examination by studying her strategies and techniques.

One powerful example of AOC’s prowess as a cross-examiner that I have often shared with debaters occurred during a House Financial Services Committee Hearing on October 23, 2019. In just five minutes, AOC effectively posed a series of challenging questions that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg struggled to competently answer. Their exchange received a lot of media attention and likely contributed to Facebook’s decision a few months later to amend its political advertising policy.

Below the fold, I will identify six lessons that debaters can learn from this cross-examination. Before continuing, I suggest that you watch (or re-watch) the video of AOC’s exchange with Zuckerberg; it is embedded below. A transcript of the hearing is also available; the relevant section begins with “The gentlewoman from New York, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, is recognized for five minutes.” If you aren’t familiar with the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal, it might also be helpful to read this Vox explainer (or at least click through this short Wired piece).

Continue reading

Headspace: Suggestions for Debaters

I’ve mentioned before that mindfulness training can be an effective way for debaters to improve their mental toughness and perform better in high-pressure contest rounds. One of the most popular tools for practicing meditation is Headspace, an app that provides guided meditations and other mindfulness training programs. For debaters seeking to improve their mindfulness in preparation for competition, I strongly recommend giving Headspace a try. To help students get started, I’ll share some debate-specific suggestions below the fold.

Continue reading

New Video Series: Debating the Case in the 2AC

I added a new five-part video series to my YouTube channel about debating the case in the 2AC. The videos cover strategy, signposting, argumentation, efficiency, and how to practice. Students of all experience levels should find them useful, but some of the content might initially be too advanced for beginning and intermediate debaters. The total runtime for all five videos is approximately one hour.

I’ll embed the playlist below the fold.

Continue reading

New Videos: Speaking Practice For Debaters Series

Over the last few days, I’ve published several more videos in my Speaking Practice For Debaters series. All of the videos in the series have been compiled into a YouTube playlist.

I suggest starting with “An Introduction To (Fast) Debate Speaking (And How To Practice It)” before moving on to the videos about specific drills: The Two Color Highlighting Drill, The Auctioneering Drill, The Dynamic Highlighting Drill, and The Blackalicious Drill.

The playlist also includes “How Eric Arceneaux Can Help Debaters Improve Their Speaking Deliveries” and two versions of my “The Art of Speaking Efficiently” lecture (from 2014 and 2013).

Additional videos will continue to be added to this playlist; if you want to be notified when new videos are posted, subscribe to my YouTube channel.

New Videos To Help You Train To Improve Your Debate Speaking

I’m working on a series of videos that attempt to help debaters train to improve their speaking deliveries. In addition to the previously-mentioned “How Eric Arceneaux Can Help Debaters Improve Their Speaking Deliveries,” I recently published “An Introduction To (Fast) Debate Speaking (And How To Practice It)” and “The Two Color Highlighting Drill (Speaking Practice For Debaters).” My goal is to produce several more videos that explain additional types of speaking exercises; look for them on my YouTube channel over the next few weeks.

For your convenience, the “Introduction To (Fast) Debate Speaking…” and “The Two Color Highlighting Drill…” videos are also embedded below.

Continue reading

Video: How Eric Arceneaux Can Help Debaters Improve Their Speaking Deliveries

I published a new video that explains why and how Eric Arceneaux’s voice training videos can help debaters improve their speaking deliveries. Arceneaux is a popular vocal coach whose training videos indie rock luminary Stephen Malkmus recently credited with improving his singing.

The video references and describes a curated playlist of the Eric Arceneaux videos I recommend for debaters along with a list of six general tips for making the most of Arceneaux’s training videos.

The video is also embedded below the fold.

Continue reading

Lesson Plan: Intelligence Squared Phone Surveillance Debate

Intelligence Squared hosted a debate about phone surveillance at the National Constitution Center on October 7, 2014. The topic for the debate was Resolved: Mass collection of U.S. phone records violates the Fourth Amendment. For students preparing for next season’s surveillance topic, this debate is an excellent introductory resource. This article outlines a lesson plan based on the debate that can be assigned to students regardless of their experience levels.

Continue reading

Using Podcasts To Become A Better Debater

Debaters in the current generation have access to a staggering array of information. As preparation begins for next year’s surveillance topic, one underexploited resource available to debaters is the podcast. Because domestic surveillance has been part of the national conversation for several years, there are many useful podcast episodes dedicated to topics that students will be debating next fall. This article will offer suggestions for how to use podcasts as part of a student’s debate preparation. It will also provide an introductory list of links to helpful episodes about the surveillance topic.

Continue reading