Debaters should always be preparing during a debate round, whenever they are not speaking and during all preparation time. During this time debaters can come up with rebuttal, talk to their partner about strategy, and prepare their later speeches. This preparation is important. The more time a debater spends thinking about their strategy, the more debate rounds they can win. “Preflowing” is a way to increase the amount of preparation time debaters have in a debate round. This is done by moving some of the preparation tasks to the spare time between tournament debate rounds.
Preflowing is a debater flowing their own case before a debate starts. Cases rarely change before a debate round. Therefore, debaters can save themselves time during the debate by having their cases already flowed before the debate round starts.
At a debate tournament, debaters can preflow for the upcoming debate round while their team has a flight off (meaning they are not debating during that flight). Debaters should preflow their cases for each partner, so they will be ready no matter which side they end up debating. This means before the start of a debate, the team starts the round with at least two pieces of paper with their cases fully flowed.
Preflowing before the round will free up both debaters’ attention during the debate, especially if they are the team speaking second. Instead of flowing their partner’s constructive speech, the second speaker can focus exclusively on preparing rebuttals to the opposing team’s constructive speech.
Generally, debaters should preflow even if they have their cases memorized. Preflowing can lead to more organized flows, which can lead to more organized speeches. Having contentions written out ahead of time will lead to a better understanding of the debate round as it is happening. Debaters will be able to quickly refer to their flow in later speeches and understand what contentions are being discussed.
Taking a few minutes to preflow before each tournament round is an easy thing any debater can do to gain an edge over the competition. Focusing on a small, extra thing like preflowing will contribute to the process of becoming a skilled debater. Students who use this strategy will have a clearer understanding of the debate, will make the more relevant arguments, and win more debates.