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Overview of the First Speech: Parliamentary

The first speaker is responsible for laying out the basic case of their given side. This article serves as an introduction to the job of the First Speaker in Parliamentary debate, including some basic tips, tricks and timing.

The first speaker in Parliamentary debate has a job unique from that of other first speakers. The speech is entirely impromptu, with limited outside research and a long speaking time. However challenging the speech might appear at first, we have several tips that will enable you to become a skilled first speaker.

The most important aspect of the first speech is that the speaker lays out the core of the case for a given topic. If nothing else, the judge should understand your basic stance and any limitations you set at the top of the speech.


With seven or eight minutes to speak, managing your time is essential. Our recommended timing breakdown is below:

Off-time Roadmap

0:00-0:15 Introduction and hook

0:15-1:00 Framing and interpretation of the motion

1:00-3:00 First advantage/disadvantage

3:00-5:00 Second advantage/disadvantage

5:00-7:00 Third advantage/disadvantage

(If negation speaker, 7:00-8:00 refutations)

00:15 Flex time conclusion sentence


The speech begins with a quick off-time roadmap, which is an overview of the content you will cover and in what order throughout the speech. As noted in the name, the roadmap does not count towards your allotted time and should not exceed fifteen seconds.

After the roadmap concludes, begin your speech with a quick introduction. Some speakers opt for quickly restating the motion or stating, “we still stand in strong affirmation/negation of the motion.” But, to increase your speaker points, it is most compelling to give a quick anecdote or personal connection to the topic or to give a beneficial story or statistic. Once you state this, connect this introduction to the topic, and then move into your framing for the round.

During framing, you should state your team’s interpretation of the motion - essentially, is it a fact, policy, or value round. Once you have stated your interpretation, move into the burden that comes with the given type of motion. Next, lay out your plan text/counterplan text that is necessary to define the stance of your given side.

After you have completed framing, go through each of your advantages for roughly two minutes each. If you are the negation first speaker, you should have around one minute to refute the affirmative case before ending your speech. The conclusion should be short and catchy, oftentimes a tagline that reminds the judge of your side’s stance.

For more information on the content discussed in this article, please visit our Parliamentary Resource page.

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