Strategies & Tips for Limited Preparation Debating

(taken from

Read Widely

Even just skimming a few international news websites, like BBC news, Al Jazeera or The New York Times will help keep you abreast of international issues. If you have a computer, set one of these sites as your homepage so that global issues “sink in” each time you open your browser. A great weekly read for sheer breadth is the The Economist.

Research Timely Issues

If there is an issue that is dominating the news and you have a debate tournament coming up, you can be sure that there will be a motion on that topic. Split tasks with your partners and teammates and create briefs on these issues before the tournament so that everyone can be up to speed. Keep these briefs throughout the year so that you can update them as events change.

Research Key Countries and Organizations

Some countries are global players and will enter nearly any international debate in which you find yourself. Being even passingly familiar with the political structures and current situations of these countries – or groups of countries – can help you win debates. Some good places to start are: China, the US, Russia, the EU and Japan. International organizations, especially the UN, feature prominently in many debates as well. Knowing the decision-making machinery of these organizations, their jurisdiction and their activities will help you immensely. In addition to the UN, you may want to look into NATO, ASEAN, the WTO and the G8.


Use IDEA’s Free Resources

Debatepedia (the wiki you are on right now) is a free resource open to anyone with internet access. It is a great place to get a sense of an issue and begin constructing arguments. You may want to dig deeper into important events and controversies, but with thousands of articles, Debatepedia is a good place to start.


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