How to Take Notes in a Debate Round

by Sara Juveland

Detailed notes are the key to making refutations and rebuttals during a debate, where speech is fast and filled with assertions, arguments and factual information. Succeeding at debate requires you take organized, informative notes during each speech to track the progress of each argument and prepare for the upcoming rounds. Taking notes during a debate is called "flowing" a debate.

How to Flow a Debate

Prepare a large sheet of paper by drawing columns across the sheet, one for each debate speech. If several speeches will be given, turn the paper onto its side to create a "landscape" format. During the first speech, take notes in the first column. Include the main points, evidence, names of quoted experts and statistics. Write each point on its own line, leaving ample space for more information from future speeches to be added in each column across the page without interfering with points farther down on the page. During the second speech, write refutations to the first speech in the second column beside the first speech points. Draw arrows or rows to connect refutations with the appropriate points. When the second speaker introduces new points, write these at the bottom of the second column or on a separate piece of paper. To keep things organized, use different colors of pens for different points or speeches, flowing from the right side of the page to the left if you are left-handed, using abbreviations or shorthand symbols and pre-flowing -- taking notes on your own speech ahead of time.

About the Author

Sara Juveland has been writing articles and textbooks related to education since 2012. Based in Oregon, Juveland has five years of experience living, studying, and working in South Korea, Japan, and China. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Japanese from Pacific University and an MA TESOL from Portland State University.

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