Themes in Debate PLUS *Sneak Peak at 2019-2020 LD Guide

It’s that time of year again, pumpkins, cool nights, falling leaves and….

Debate prep! If you are doing LD this year, I’m sure you have realized that this resolution is really challenging in more ways than one. Not only is the wording different than you’re probably used to, it’s a fact resolution so there is only one side, but also the topic is unbelievably complicated. Everyone from scholars to military experts has been debating about it for thousands of years. You will need to understand not only debate concepts, but ethics, philosophy, and history just to name a few. Because of all these reasons and the gap we saw in providing real, understandable, concrete help to you, Lasting Impact! created the 2019-2020 NCFCA LD Guidebook written by two of its top competitors, Hope Rawlson and Caleb Sampson. No matter who you are or your experience level, from novice to experienced debater, we believe this guide will be of tremendous benefit to you. This is a complete resource, not your typical “sourcebook”. In addition to LD cases, we wanted to help you understand the most important parts of LD by going through it section by section. Included in the Guidebook are extensive briefs on Definitions, Resolutional Analysis, Values, Contentions, Themes, Philosophy and Case Ideas. Plus, hundreds of evidence cards on historical events relevant to the resolution. So, whether you are learning how to do LD, teaching a club, exploring resources, or trying to get a head start on the season, we believe this Guidebook can send you on your way to being a fantastic LD debater! Click HERE to purchase or read on…

Following is an excerpt from our Themes summary and brief. We hope you enjoy-Happy Debating!!


A theme is a catchy phrase that communicates your main message.
A theme may seem more advanced, but in reality, it is a very simple and effective tool to use in debate. You repeat your theme throughout the debate round, implanting it in the judge’s mind. For instance, using the theme “the proof is in the pudding” in a debate case can convey that your side has proof and evidence to back it up. “Good intentions don’t equal good results” can be used to convey that your opponent is missing good results even though some of their ideas sound good. Use themes in the round because you want your main message to stick in the judge’s brain so that when he goes back to Judges’ Hospitality, sips a cup of coffee, and looks at the flow he’ll think, “Okay, Neg had some ideas that were kind of confusing, but, drastic times call for drastic measures, and Aff is right about that.” And then he votes for you and you win the round.

Themes aren’t only used in debate.
Some of the most successful companies and organizations use core themes. Everyone knows that Disney is the “Happiest Place on Earth”, that Donald Trump wants to “Make America Great Again”, that Nike wants you to “Just Do It”, that at McDonald’s “You’re Lovin It”, and that “America Runs on Dunkin”. Politicians and companies use catchy phrases for a reason – they work! Why not incorporate one of the most successful persuasion techniques into your debate cases?

Develop a thesis for your case, and from your thesis, develop your theme.
It doesn’t have to be complicated; in fact, the simpler the theme the better. Think about it from an outside perspective. When coming up with your theme imagine yourself as the judge and ask yourself if you would remember the theme if used repeatedly throughout the debate round. Ask other people if they find your potential theme catchy. Once you have determined your theme, use it throughout the round. Repeat it multiple times throughout all your speeches. Say it so that you feel the judge is almost annoyed by it. If you are able to create a humorous theme, even better. Humor is great; it can make a theme more memorable and increase your likability in the round. However, if your case deals with a serious subject matter, or if humor isn’t your style, don’t do it. Humor is not required to win a debate round.

A sampling of our suggested themes:

Prioritize protection
Secure the citizens
Countries that threaten are a threat
Every war began with a threat
War seems unlikely until it’s not.
Better safe than sorry
Good intentions don’t equal good results
The proof is in the pudding
Drastic times call for drastic measures
Method to madness

Every war begins with a first strike
Preventive war guarantees war
War harms people every time
Peace is a win-win
Hastiness hurts
Prioritize peace
Less beef, more peace
Good intentions don’t equal good results
Best of both worlds
Don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched

Remember, this is just a snippet of the over 200 pages of The LD Guide, all geared to assist you in this year’s NCFCA resolution, as well as help guide you in years to come.