High school debate creates intelligent and critical thinkers. Debaters are trained to diligently research topics, organize their findings, and recall any pertinent information instantly. During a tournament, debaters must remain attentive, so they can provide an informed rebuttal to their opponent’s argument.
A constructive rebuttal requires behind-the-scenes preparation. In order to win an argument, debaters are required to examine all sides of a current issue. Debaters are taught to deconstruct an opponent’s argument through thoughtful research, analyzing, and logical reasoning.
Here are the steps required to form and deliver a constructive rebuttal:
- Comparison: After thoroughly researching both sides of an argument, think about why you chose to advocate for your side. Take that thought and apply it to your opponent’s argument. Essentially, debaters need to get inside the minds of their opponents.
- Supportive arguments: Find 3 or 4 key elements that support your position and place those in a critical timeline of importance.
- Identify your opponent’s approach: Rationalize what stance and key elements your opponent is going to take on the subject. Make sure your arguments are going to be able to defeat what you believe your opponent will present.
- Presentation: Identify your choice for the judge, list out each of the main reasons to support your side, follow up with simplified explanations and supporting arguments, respond to your opponent’s arguments with well-researched logical findings, and make your final concluding points.
Constructive rebuttals are useful beyond debate, and will help students in college and the workplace. It is a powerful skill to be able to diligently research what you believe to be right, and then present your opinion in a non-antagonizing way. This helps quell arguments that escalate to yelling and screaming. Debaters are able to show others that arguments can be delivered and worked out without criticism.