Sometimes a story told in six words can be more powerful than a speech. The concise power of the above sentence can send chills through your spine. If it had been longer, describing more of the story, it probably would have been less impactful.
Although I can’t match the power of that six-word story, I can certainly teach you to improve the impact of your words in debate rounds.
I gave this example in an earlier post: a disadvantage tagged “Iran closes the strait of hormuz” vs. “Oil Catastrophe”.
One is simply a description of the link between the case and the impact, the other is the impact itself. Which provides our first principle.
In general, an impact-focused tag is better than a link or description-focused tag.
Oil catastrophe paints a picture in the judge’s mind, while the other leaves them confused. Another principle!
Since you mention the tag of an argument before the actual explanation, avoid tags that would confuse the judge. Sometimes, however, it’s good to “intentionally confuse” them, then clarify. For example, “The next consequence to the affirmative team’s proposal is [insert confusing statement]. Now you’re probably wondering what I mean by that. Let me explain.”
Try to evoke emotions and reactions to the words you use. Constantly saying that there are “problems” with the affirmative team’s case is not going to cut it. Saying there are severe consequences to it will get you a lot farther.
It’s okay to make their case look awful. You don’t have to make the other team look awful, just their case.
Vary your vocabulary—don’t always use the same set of words since you will look like a one trick pony. Like the “apparently” kid.
Some power words for you
|For bad things||Consequence, disaster, catastrophe, calamity, wreak havoc, cause trouble, slap in the face of [something, like democracy], blight in our policy, black spot, blow to [something], cloud without a silver lining, hammer blow, cause misery, would be an outrage, a sore point, unwise policy, misguided, inept, short-sighted, ill-conceived, half-baked, reckless|
|Decide wisely||Responsible, cautious, careful, wise, prudent, sensible, discreet, haste makes waste, don’t jump the gun, deliberate, play it safe, thoughtful, choosy (in a good sense), don’t take a shot in the dark, conservative, vigorous, guarded|
|For good things||Guaranteed, assured, excellent, exceptional, superb, pretty great!, outstanding, worthy, wise, safe, turnkey solution|
|Solvency||Ineffective, feeble, inept, inadequate, impotent, unproductive, unsuccessful, won’t reach its goals, inefficient, limited, feckless, useless, futile, worthless, weak, no effect, pointless|
- Find some of your own power words by using a thesaurus. Just google something you say too often, and find alternative ways to say it. Try to say it many different ways in a speech.
- Peruse articles about power words. Many of them are focused on sales, so you definitely don’t want to sound like you’re giving a sales pitch, but you can take some principles from them. Click here for some examples.
- Say something several ways, rapid fire. For example, “We need to be wise, we need to be cautious, we need to be responsible when we’re dealing with the Middle East.”
- Remember to use this in conjunction with my other post, say bold things. Being willing to call the results of your opponent’s idea disastrous is important.
We all know why power words are important. Now review the tips I gave (you can use the new “Main Takeaways” button) and apply them in your subsequent speeches!