Summary Essay (free)



When debaters first start competing they look forward to the Summary speech, as the Summary speech is only three minutes long and they’ve just had to struggle with giving four minute rebuttals.

More experienced debaters have the opposite problem — they struggle to figure out how they are going to say everything they need to say in a three minute speech.

To deliver a strong Summary speech, whether you are a Beginner or a more experienced debater, it is critical that you understand how to do a number of critical things that we will cover in this essay.

Critical Components of all Summary Speeches

The next section will review situational advice for the Summary speech.  This section will review general advice for the Summary.

Generally, in the Summary speech debaters need to crystalize their key arguments (their original contentions), extend key answers to their opponents’ contentions, respond to their opponents’ rebuttal arguments and then start to weigh their arguments against their opponents arguments.

Many debaters will organize the speech by starting with what they will refer to ask the key “voting issues,” which are simply the major issues in the debate. For example, in the school uniforms debate, the key issues may be school safety, academic achievement, cost, and individuality. In this case, the Pro team will go through and argue why they are winning each of these major issues.

Once the Summary speaker covers each of these issues, he or she should weigh the arguments in the debate. For example, Pro debaters may talk about why academic achievement is more important than individuality. Con debaters may talk about why cost considerations are more important than marginal improvements in academic achievement.

Debaters may want to use any framework arguments they made as a way to articulate what arguments are the most important. Of course, of debaters want to use their framework to weigh they must defend their framework against any attacks in rebuttals.

As you can already see, the Summary speech is about more than
summarizing; the Summary speech is about making choices in arguments, extending critical arguments, answering arguments, and weighing arguments.

It is also very important that the Summary speaker discuss what contention they are going to extend with the Final Focus speaker so that they are on the same page. There
has to be consistency between the Summary and the Final Focus speakers or the judge will think that the Final Focus speaker’s arguments are new in the Final Focus.

Since you know what your own contentions are it is useful to write out summaries of your major arguments in advance, to think about what arguments you want to extend, and to think in advance about how you will address key stasis points in the debate.

Advanced Summary Speech Considerations

The advice that I just described would likely have been sufficient to get a debater through a Summary speech 5-6 years ago, but the complexity of Public Forum debate has increased dramatically in the past few years and Summary speeches have become substantially more complex.

With the complexity increasing, there are a couple of important things to understand about the Summary speech.

Go for one contention.
It is very rare for Summary speakers to extend more than one of their original contentions in the Summary speech. It is far better to spend time “frontlining” responses from the other team’s Rebuttal two of the contentions than trying to extend both contentions. Responding to answers made in Rebuttals is sometimes called “rebuilding the case.”

Be careful when dropping a contention
. “Dropping’ a contention simply refers to not extending the contention. When you “drop” any contention, you must respond to any link turns or impact turns that are made against the contention (see the Rebuttal essay). Otherwise, teams will extend the link or impact turn in Final Focus as a reason to vote for them. This will essentially give them a new contention.

Extend responses
. In modern Public Forum debate, debaters cannot simply extend their original contentions and summarize them, they must also extend answers to the other team’s contentions.

Situational Summary Speech Considerations

There are some situational considerations to account for when delivering the Summary speech.

Speaking first and second. The most important situational consideration reality is whether or not one is speaking first or second and there are two situations related to that.

One, if you are giving the first Summary speech, this will be the first time you have to address the Rebuttal arguments and it is critical that you cover the arguments in Rebuttal against the contention that you are going for.

Two, if you giving the second Summary speech you have this opportunity to address the first Summary
and to point out any responses you made in your Rebuttal to the other team’s contention.  You should pay special attention to any turns the other team dropped and any new “add-ons” you read.

Time Considerations

As noted, the Summary speech is only two minutes long.  Given this, Summary speakers have to think carefully about how to allocate their time. With this in mind, Summary speakers may want to consider the following —

60 seconds — Summarizing your contention(s), responding to your opponent’s answers
60 seconds — Extending key answers to your opponent’s contentions
60 seconds — Weighing

Next:  Final Focus Speeches