Overview of the Second Speech: Parliamentary

This article serves as an introduction for the role of the Second Speaker in Parliamentary debate, including some basic tips, tricks and timing.



The second speaker in Parliamentary debate is usually one of the most important speeches. In this speech, you have to cover all of the content necessary for your team to win the round because the final speaker (third speaker) can not bring up any new information in their speech. This means that by the end of your second speech, you need to respond to the entirety of the opposing case while establishing all of the logistics and information of your own case.


The most challenging aspect of the second speech is typically organization. Speakers tend to speak freely and without structure, which confuses judges and makes it challenging for them to flow through your analysis. We are going to cover a couple of different ways that you can organize the second speech:



The Line-by-line Speech


This speech is formulated by simply running through the opposing case and methodically refuting their advantages. Once you finish refuting their advantages, establish and counter-refute your own advantages. You can finish the speech by analyzing the round with impact calculus. You should break down your speech like the following:


0:00-0:15 Introduction and hook

0:15-1:30 Framing disputes and assumptions by the opposing team

1:30-3:00 Refute first opposing advantage

3:00-4:30 Refute second opposing advantage

4:30-6:00 Refute third opposing advantage

6:00-7:00 Counter-refute and establish own case

7:00-8:00 Impact calculus


This structure is evidently dependent on the case presented by your opponents. So, if they only present two advantages, you can take more time to individually refute those, or you can add on extra time to counter-refutations or impact calculus - the structure of the speech is ultimately up to you. The most important aspect of this structure is consistent “signposting,” or letting the judge know which part of the flow you are analyzing. For example, when you finish responding to the second advantage and begin to refute the third advantage, you should let the judge know that you “will now respond to the third advantage proposed by the affirmative team.” Frequently signposting is crucial to a successful line-by-line speech.


The Clash Speech


The clash outline for a second speech is meant for experienced debaters. Once you gain comfort with the line-by-line format, consider trying the clash speech. In this format, you will identify 2-3 clash points that summarize the major disputes of the round. For each specific clash point, describe the opposing outlook on the clash and refute why their perspective should not flow through. Then, impact out why your comparative under that clash is preferable for the judge. Here is a timing breakdown:


0:00-0:15 Introduction and hook

0:15-1:00 Framing disputes and assumptions by the opposing team

1:00-3:00 First clash point

3:00-5:00 Second clash point

5:00-7:00 Third clash point

7:00-8:00 Impact calculus


In order to be successful in this format, there are two aspects to remember. First, that when describing the opposing argument under a clash point, make sure you are correctly and accurately depicting the argument. This means that you avoid the “straw man fallacy” or purposely misconstruing an opposing argument to enable your refutations. If you commit this fallacy, your refutations will seem less valid to the judge, and your opponents will likely comment on this fallacy, making your refutations appear irrelevant. So, when you describe an opposing argument within this format, portray it in an accurate way. Secondly, ensure that the clash points you select are relevant to the round. In other words, don’t equate a source or statistic dispute to an entire clash point - this will give an undue amount of weight to an unimportant dispute, taking away time and focus on your own case.


By using these clear structures to format the speech, giving a second speech is easy and simple.



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