Overview of the First Speech: HSPDP


The first speaker lays out the case for the round. This article goes over the role of the First Speaker, including basic information, timing and tips!


The job of the first speaker is to lay out your team's case. If you are debating on the opposition side, you should also respond to the other team’s case through rebuttals. This position is great for excellent public speakers who are not as interested in giving refutation. If you like debate but kind of hate the debating part, this can be an ideal role for you.


Here are some general tips, and then we’ll get into the specifics of each role for beginners.


-Eye contact, eye contact, eye contact! As silly as it seems, it can be the difference between a decent and excellent speaker score.


-Judges love passion. Look like you’re really invested in the round. If you can convince the judge that your life passion is to abolish the penny, then you’ve already won.


First Prop


This is the person who has to go up first in the round. If it is not an impromptu round, you’re in luck! You can just read a prepared speech from your notes. Most judges know this and expect you to fill up your time because of it. It’s also important to take a POI or two, if they’re offered, to show you have control of the room. Check out our guide on POIs for help with that (imbed link).


Because there is less focus on refutation and off-the-cuff thinking, presence and speaker style are very important. Further, even if the rest of the team came up with the case because you’re the one presenting it, judges tend to either punish or reward you for a good or bad case. Case building should be a team effort, but if you want to get high speaker scores, make sure to have a case filled with good evidence, logic and impact. See our case building guide for help!


The most stressful aspect of being a Proposition speaker is definitely impromptu rounds. Whereas you normally have a pre-prepared speech, now you have to come up with one in 30 minutes! A good knowledge of common topics and current events will help you come up with cases, in addition to utilizing your prep time well. When all else fails, speak slowly and clearly. Other tried and true time-wasters include providing lengthy impacts, giving long-winded rants about examples and taking a bunch of POIs. Above all, remain confident. This is an incredibly difficult speech to give, so don’t expect it to be perfectly prepared. If you sound confident, chances are you’re doing better than most


The following is a common way of allocating your six minute speech. (Please know every speaker and individual speech is different, so this is just a general outline.)


0:00 - 0:15 Hook

This is a quick quote, statistic or phrase to get your judge’s attention off the bat. It might feel a bit awkward, but it is the convention in the format and will help your speaker scores.

0:15-0:30 Roadmap

This is a little bit of organizational information about how your speech is going to go. For example, “I’ll be introducing our 3 points.” As Prop’s first speaker, it should be quite simple. Make sure to signpost your speech as you go. That means indicating where you’re at (“Now I’ll introduce our second point ‘Economic Harms’”)

0:30-0:45 Definitions and framework

0:45-1:00 Burden

This is what your side will need to prove to win

1:00- 1:15 Introduce the Plan

1:15-3:15 Point 1

3:15-3:45 (POI+ response)

3:45- 5:45 Point 2

5:45-6:00 Conclusion

This depends on how organized the rest of your speech was. If it was too long, you could just say "that’s why I urge a Proposition ballot." If it was too short, feel free to ramble a bit about broad impacts. It’s amazing how much time you can fill up with a rant about climate change, children or nuclear war. It might be a bit messy, but it’s better than leaving too much time on the clock.



Second Opp


Your job is similar to the first Prop, but you also have to respond to Prop’s case. You can vary time allocation based on the strength of your caseFor example, if you have a lot you have to get through, you might want to spend a minute on refutations. If it is an impromptu round and you don’t have a ton of content, spending 2 ½ minutes might make sense.


The following is a common time allocation:


0:00 - 0:15 Hook

0:15-0:30 Roadmap

0:30 -0:45 Counterplan

0:45-1:00 Burden

1:00-2:30 Refutations

2:30-3:30 Point 1

3:30- 4:00 POI

4:00- 5:00 minutes Point 2

5:00- 5:45 Point 3

5:45-6:00 Conclusion



For more information on the content discussed, please visit our HSPDP resource page!