While you can’t bring up new arguments or evidence, you can certainly bring back a losing round and win.
Because this speech is so important, let’s talk about how you can best prepare yourself for it.
Note: Some of the best preparation you can do for the 2NR is before the tournament, during your practice, but I’ll be talking about in-round preparation in this post.
Choose arguments to carry forward
Sometimes you make some arguments that don’t go anywhere. They either get crushed, or are not strong enough to talk about in the last speech.
Some arguments are decent, but clog up the space in your speech where you could talk about your bigger arguments.
If you need to drop arguments from your negative strategy, do so now so you have time to promote the other arguments. (Don’t drop them before the negative block, that’s the time to have more arguments!)
If you need help figuring out what to drop, read this post that is directly about the topic.
Come up with a speech theme
A 2NR should absolutely not be a list of arguments with a plea to vote negative.
It needs to be as impressive as possible.
It needs to stick in the judge’s mind until they vote.
In order to be notable, a 2NR should have some kind of theme based on the arguments therein.
When you figure out how your arguments connect and interact, try to come up with an analogy that is vivid and will stick with the judge.
If you have nothing else, using the typical analogies related to injuries and how you deal with them (eg, putting a bandaid on a leg that needs amputation) is still better than nothing.
You can make them vivid by saying something like, “The affirmative team wants you to believe they’re solving this delicate situation in the Middle East. In reality, they’re grabbing an acidic cleaning agent and pouring it into an infected wound. The approach would work fine if the problem was a dirty floor, but we’re dealing with a delicate wound. This approach is reckless and will cause major problems.”
If you know the judge’s profession, you can do more creative analogies.
Electrician? “If the problem at hand was a light switch being stuck, the affirmative team would be that one guy who brings a sledgehammer to unstick it. In reality, we need a more delicate approach.”
Termite exterminator? “Have you ever had a client who didn’t believe in your methods and just wanted you to take a flamethrower to the termites? That’s how the affirmative team is acting towards the Middle East”.
Teacher? “If a child is having trouble with a problem, do you stick a 1,000 page textbook in their face, or do you walk them through the process of solving the problem?”
Parent? “If your child sticks their finger in mud, would you wash it off, or throw them in the bathtub with a few gallons of soap?”
They don’t need to be brilliant, just enough to get the judge to remember.
Pre-script an intro and an outro
If you’re very good on the spot, maybe you don’t have to do this. But having an idea of what you will say during the introduction and the conclusion really does help.
If you’ve ever been nearing the end of your time wondering what to end with, you’ve experienced the problem of not planning a conclusion.
The introduction is the expectation setter for your most important speech! Make it good.
The conclusion is the last few words the judge hears you say! Make it dang good!
Practical tip: You can use a sticky note to write your introduction and conclusion so you can keep the rest of the space for your arguments.
Include an argument stack
An argument stack is a term I made up for when you summarize all your arguments in one sentence/run-on paragraph.
“There is no problem with terrorism in this country, at all, as we’ve proven. But even if there was, the Affirmative team has not provided a solid solution to it. Even if there was a problem and the Affirmative team somehow solved it, they’d cause [DA1] and [DA2], which outweighs any unlikely benefit that could be gleaned from their plan.”
All you have to do is go in a logical order of your arguments and stack them together (Even if this, then that. Even if that, that other thing.)
This is a useful way to imply that each of your arguments is a solid reason to vote negative. Argument stacks are wonderful in a 2NR when you’ve gotten through your points.
Choose voting issues or main points
This is related to figure out a theme for your speech. Your theme is usually based on what your main arguments are.
Use 2-3 main points or voting issues to structure your speech, then include all smaller arguments under them.
Lots of debaters use generic voting issues such as “No problem, No Solution, and No Benefit”. It works in a pinch, but it’s boring and repetitive. Try to come up with something more creative if possible. (The next step up would be using the issues in the round like “Kuwait is innocent”, “Kuwait alienated”, and “Terrorism increased”. It’s still not optimal, but it’s definitely better).
Organize your arguments and notate them on flow
My usual organization was intro on a sticky note, three voting issues with arguments under them, and a conclusion.
Depending on how many arguments I had, I sometimes made the arguments subpoints to the voting issue. The best case scenario is that you have 2-3 powerful arguments, and that’s it. Then you can have one argument per voting issue and just spend more time on each one.
Here’s what my flow looked like:
Intro (This was just to remind me to look at the sticky note I put on another speech slot)
1. [Voting issue 1]
A. [Argument 1]
– Thought 1
– Response 2
– Thought 2 Sticky (I sometimes had an extra sticky note for some rhetoric under an argument I wanted to remember)
B. [Argument 2]
2. [ Voting issue 2]
3. [Voting issue 3]
Conclusion (Remind me to look at another sticky note I had)
Write down any specific things you need to remember
If you noticed the “Thought 1” and “Thought 2” I had in the sample flow above, those are what I’m talking about.
They’re just random thought nuggets that you want to say, but know you’ll forget. It could be a catchphrase, or something that reminds you of a paragraph you want to say. It could even be a prescripted part that you wrote a separate sticky note for.
Don’t just write down your voting issues and arguments, or else you run the risk of forgetting some of the cool ideas you brainstormed!
Visualize your speech
I wrote a post a while ago about visualization, and it’s especially helpful before your final speech.
You need to get your head in a successful, confident mindset so that when you step up and give your speech, you are powerful.
If you haven’t already read that post, click here.
Your 2NR can win or lose you the round, so it’s important to get it right.
Give yourself enough prep time for the speech, and use that time wisely.
I’m writing an equivalent post for the 2AR, so put your email below to get a reminder when it’s posted!