It might feel good to twiddle your thumbs, but here are some ideas of better uses of that precious downtime.
Potential uses for downtime
Instead of spending your downtime thinking about whatever debaters think about, there are many things you can be doing.
1. Watch your judge’s reactions.
Not only is it important to predict what kind of judge you have based on their “judging philosophy”, you should also watch how they react to various arguments to get some insight into what they like to hear.
If the judge nods at one of your opponent’s arguments, you better take note of it and figure out a way to destroy that argument. If they look happy when your partner brings up a certain point, remember to push that point more.
If it helps you to remember, write what you observe on a sticky note and share the information with your partner.
2. Prescript intros/conclusions to a speech
If you’re the second affirmative speaker, you shouldn’t just sit around with a blank look as your partner delivers the 1AC. I would submit you probably shouldn’t even flow the 1AC, that is usually a waste of time. Instead, get ready for your 2AC. That speech is incredibly crucial to avoid the negative block crushing your case.
Based on the judge philosophy (once again, refer to the post I wrote on that subject), come up with a persuasive intro or conclusion that is tailored to your judge.
If you don’t have an upcoming speech, you could hand the intro to your partner and help them out.
3. Think creatively
It’s easiest to come up with creative ideas when you’re not under pressure. Trying to come up with a great analogy is much harder when you have a speech coming up than when you have downtime.
Think about the arguments in the round, and figure out how they all connect. What is the #1 weakness your opponents have? What one phrase could you say that dismantles their entire philosophy? Are the teams clashing on a point at the wrong level? Should you refute the entire philosophy behind your opponent’s case, instead of just the facts of the case? What catchphrase would sum up your arguments? What simply analogy explains your position so accurately that it cannot be turned by the other team?
4. Reorganize arguments
If you really have nothing to do, try looking at every argument currently on the table, and reorganize them so that you can cut down on the fat. Get it down to three points for voting issues or any other purpose.
Try to see the connections between your arguments and your opponents’. Maybe there is one response that could take out several of their arguments at once.
5. Think about ME!
Okay, not literally me.
But think about what “Potent Speaking Tips” you can apply to the debate round. I write the tips around here, and yet I found myself forgetting some of them in rounds.
If you write down a list of the basic ideas from my posts, you can have them in paper form for each debate round you walk into in order to remind you what you need to practice.
6. Practice visualization
I wrote an entire post about this, you can read that here.
There is no reason to thumbs twiddle. Or twiddle thumbs.
Take advantage of downtime: it’s a gift from debate to you!