How to Make an Opening Statement in a Debate

How to Make an Opening Statement in a Debate

Making a strong opening statement in a debate is a skill that can be advantageous in a variety of careers. Lawyers need to make strong, compelling opening statements every day. Businessmen giving important presentations need to start with an opening statement or summary that captivates their audience and gains enthusiasm for their ideas. There are several tips and strategies to consider when making a strong opening statement in a debate.

1 Plan it Out

Plan out your opening statement before the debate. Go over the main points in your argument and determine the ones that should be summarized in the debate. If you're a visual learner, put a large piece of paper on your wall and keep your notes there. Start with the topic of the debate in the middle of the paper and use the rest of the space to list out the main points you need to go over. Once you're done with this process, condense your notes and put the main ideas on notecards.

2 Write Your Opening Statement

Write out your opening statement, making sure it covers the most important points of your debate and provides brief description of what you will be discussing. The opening statement should be no more than two or three minutes long, as a longer statement may begin to lose the interest of the audience.

3 Practice, Practice and More Practice

Even if you're a seasoned presenter, practicing your opening statement before you jump into your debate is critical to your success. Start by practicing in front of a mirror. Try delivering your statement without notes. This will help you keep your head up and get you ready for eye contact. As soon as you've mastered practicing in front of the mirror, it's time to find an audience. This can be a chance to have a friend listen to your opening statement, adjust the working and practice tone and phrasing. It's also a good idea to use a timer in order to keep you on-track and within the given guidelines.

4 Deliver With Confidence

Deliver your opening statement with confidence. Look at the audience rather than down at your speech. Gaining the interest of the audience is arguably the most important aspect of the opening statement. Speak with conviction and expression; avoid a monotonous tone.

5 Keep Your Energy Level Up

Maintain your level of energy and enthusiasm from the start to the end of your opening statement. You might want to let the energy build to a crescendo for the finish in order to leave the audience on an especially strong note.

James Wiley graduated from Providence College in 2009 as a double major in global studies and Spanish. Wiley's capstone thesis paper was published in the Providence College database. He has also competed in international script-writing competitions and coauthored a pilot which placed in the top 15 percent of international entries over the past year.