Last weekend, I was fortunate enough with fellow ambassador and LOUDwomen co-founder Anna Dean to qualify for Nationals in World Schools! Going 4-0 in our rounds, it was an exhausting but thrilling experience that was a learning experience as much as we competed. Through our numerous trials and tribulations, we learned what does, and doesn’t, work when competing in world schools. I hope to share those tips with you!
1. Avoid a Framing Debate
Now, don’t let the title fool you. You absolutely should have a framing debate, but it should not be the main focus of your round. I can’t count the number of rounds in which the framing debate has been so messy, it gave everyone in the round a headache--including the judge. Call out the other side for weak framing, but if your framing is fundamentally and ideologically different from each other, simply refute it once and move on. Take it from me: there’s no reason to debate framing unless absolutely necessary and crucial.
To avoid this debate from the start, make your framing rock-solid. A pragmatic approach is perfect for either side, as it allows the facts to take the front stage rather than emotional arguments. The most tricky framing, however, is when the word “narrative” is implemented into the motion. Be incredibly careful with these cases, as each side will probably have a different interpretation of narrative. This brings me back to my main point. While you should have the debate, it shouldn’t last more than 30seconds-1min of your allotted time each speech. Walk and speak with caution on these cases, as you don’t want it to end in disaster.
2. Have the Facts
When you’re building a world schools case, have as many facts as you can get! If you're able to weave a story of emotion and facts perfectly together, your case will be hard to beat. By giving specific examples and sources to go along with them, this makes a case unstoppable. However, make sure to remember that this is world schools, after all. Have many international examples on hand, as the other team will definitely ask about your impacts overseas or with the world as a whole. While it’s easy to make the debate US-Centric, most motions are not; be cognizant of this fact when making your arguments.
3. Be Memorable!
While yes, world schools is a team event that is largely judged on the arguments at hand, make sure to always show your passion and expertise on the topic. This can be done in several ways, but one of the ways in which we try is by having a memorable introduction. “The opposition is trying to tell you a story, but they selectively have left out many pages of their book.” Having these tongue-and-cheek openings allow everyone to have a mutual laugh, and it’s a great way to add nuance to your argument.
In addition to having a killer intro, be memorable by having unique arguments. Think outside the box on each motion: who is benefiting, who is suffering, who is this motion going to truly impact. By hitting these angles that usually have no solutions for the opposition, it’s incredibly difficult for the other side to overcome a crucial block of your argument, which almost always results in victory. While it’s easy to go for the obvious impacts of a motion, try and go a little deeper in your research to find those hidden gems.
Arguably, the most important aspect of any world schools case is the team that you’re on. Having a facetime call or email chain active when you're debating is crucial, as communicating with your fellow team members is so important. In our own calls, we often supply each other with arguments the other needs to hit, or arguments that the opposition didn’t respond to. This allows us to push a better argument and paves a clear path to victory. World schools is fundamentally impromptu: the case can go in any direction at any time. Your teammates need to all be up to the challenge, all in it together.
As we head to Nationals this summer, I hope we can use these tips on a national level to be successful. I’m always learning and watching--so I can’t wait to see how other team’s use their own tactics to win. I hope to become not only a better debater, but learn a couple more tips to share with you all, too. Good luck in finishing out this current season! :)
Clayton Kincade (he/him/his)
Cabot High School Senior