Overview of the Third Speech: HSPDP


The third speaker analyzes the major contention in the round. This article will go over the role of the third speaker, also known as the rebuttalist, in HSPDP.


The real job of the third speaker is to, in essence, do the judge’s job for them. The third speaker should look at the debate as a whole and prove (in an incredibly biased fashion) who has won the round. Spoiler: It is always you! This position is perfect for passionate rhetorical speakers who can really get the judge’s attention and synthesize the round.


Here are a few tips before we get into detailed information!


- Always sound confident! Judges want to feel like they made the right decision, so if you look nervous or like you don’t believe what you’re saying, they won’t either.


-We would highly recommend judging a few rounds yourself, whether that's practice debates for your team or for younger debaters at tournaments. Putting yourself in the position of a judge can be very helpful to understanding what does and doesn’t matter.


-Lives always outweigh! When in doubt, create a link chain back to how your side saves the most lives. Sometimes this is simple, but other times it requires you to do a bit of linking. For example, a 1% increase in unemployment leads to 40,000 excess deaths from suicide, untreated medical expenses and more. Don’t allow someone to pigeonhole you into a lives vs. money debate. You’ll probably lose.

Opp Rebuttalist


This speech relies very heavily on having a good Opp bloc. If your second speaker has done a good job, then you can focus on weighing. If not, try to address drops at the top of your case, but since this is such a short speech, try not to waste too much time. When doing so call it “logical errors”, so you don’t have to admit you dropped them. There are many ways to approach a rebuttalist speech, but we will analyze the most effective format: asking three questions that weigh and summarize the round. For example, in a debate about single payer-healthcare, those questions might be


  1. Does a single-payer healthcare system provide the best health outcomes for Americans as a whole?

  2. How will the economy be impacted by a single-payer system?

  3. Is a single-payer healthcare system more expensive than the status quo/your plan?


Under each of your questions, you should bring up what the other side said and why it is wrong, what your team presented and why it still stands, and finally, why winning this question is important (impact). This is a more sophisticated way of incorporated impact calculus, refutation and counter refutations all at once. Often your questions will not be able to perfectly include every argument said in round. This is okay. By this point in the round, you should know what is and isn’t important. As long as nothing was dropped, don’t make the debate about an obscure third point that didn’t end up making all that much sense on your side.

Now you should get into some overall weighing. This can be done in many ways. A common one is two worlds analysis in which you compare both sides. (For example, if you vote for Prop, single-payer health care will destroy our economy, causing countless to lose their jobs and lives. If you vote for our counter-plan, we can solve the healthcare system’s problems and protect the economy.) This should be in-depth and in a rhetorical fashion.

Finally, state your burden (which was hopefully laid out in your first speech). And why the judge should vote for you and not the other team.

The opp bloc can be difficult, especially because you don’t get the last word. But if you utilize it effectively, the judge will already have made their decision before the Prop rebutalist walks to the podium.


Here’s the time breakdown for a typical Opp Rebutalist


-0:00 - 0:15 Hook

-0:15-0:30 Roadmap

-0:30-1:15 Question 1

-1:15-2:00 Question 2

-2:00-2:45 Question 3

-2:45-3:30 Two Worlds comparison

-3:30-4:00 Why the burden was upheld on your end/conclusion.

Prop Rebutalist


This position can be scary since Opp just got 10 minutes straight to speak. But you get the last word, and that is very, very powerful. Unless the Opp bloc threw a new argument at you, your speech runs similarly to the Opp rebutalist. (Just make sure to incorporate refutations into your longer questions.)


Here’s the time breakdown for a typical Prop Rebutalist

-0:00 - 0:15 Hook

-0:15-0:30 Roadmap

-0:30-1:30- Question 1

-1:30-2:30 Question 2

-2:30-3:30 Question 3

-3:30-4:15 Two Worlds comparison

-4:15-5:00 Why the burden was upheld on your end/conclusion.


For more information on the content discussed, please visit our HSPDP Resource Page.