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October 1, 2013 / compassioninpolitics

Overviews in Policy Debate

Overviews
1) Summarize and extend (For instance: tell the disad story or scenario in the case of disads, including author last names)
2) Often explain a distinction or detail which puts you ahead on the debate. (We are winning here, so much of the line by line is irrelevant). For instance pointing out that only a couple of answers are relevant/significant.
3) Impact comparison (or evidence comparison on a key piece of evidence)
4) Explaining how you are ahead in terms of the big picture (or read a piece of evidence that is a difference maker for you)
5) making an argument that you will be able to cross apply throughout your time on that position.

Most often overviews do 1, 2, and 4. But they can certainly do 3. It depends where they come in the debate.

You can also use overviews for grouping large parts of the debate on one sheet of paper.

Overviews come in different shapes and sizes:

1) Round/regional versus individual position
2) Critique
3) Topicality
4) Case or solvency
5) Counterplan
6) Disad

Ideally your overview will be 20 to 30 seconds….not going much over one minute (my guess is very few go past 1:30). There are certainly exceptions–if your over-view is super-strategic. But you don’t want to get too wrapped up in the overview and miss the line by line.

If you are creating a longer overview (which often happens on the negative given the time advantage in the negative block) or in final rebuttals (2NR, 2AR)–you may want the judge to use an additional sheet of paper–because otherwise flowing overviews skews the flow of the rest of the answers on the given sheet of paper.

Like all writing…you have to dive in. You need to get something down on paper–and then edit it over time.

By the way, I tended to put overviews on colored paper, in the same way I put disad shells and 1ac on colored paper. This helps a bit with organization. And obviously having a typed & saved version helps too.

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  1. compassioninpolitics / Oct 1 2013 9:28 pm

    A slightly better version:
    I coached college debate for a number of years–and have coached and judged some of the best in the activity:

    What do Overviews do–or what should they do? They should do one or more of the following:

    1) Summarize and extend (For instance: tell the disad “story” or scenario in the case of disads, including author last names)

    2) Often explain a distinction or detail which puts you ahead on the debate. (We are winning here, so much of the line by line is irrelevant). For instance pointing out that only a couple of answers are relevant/significant.

    3) Impact comparison (or evidence comparison on a key piece of evidence)

    4) Explaining how you are ahead in terms of the big picture (or read a piece of evidence that is a difference maker for you)

    5) making an argument that you will be able to cross apply throughout your time on that position.

    Most often overviews do 1, 2, and 4. But they can certainly do 3. It depends where they come in the debate.

    You can also use overviews for grouping large parts of the debate on one sheet of paper.

    Overviews come in different shapes and sizes:

    Round/regional versus individual position
    Critique
    Topicality
    Case or solvency
    Counterplan
    Disad

    Ideally your overview will be 20 to 30 seconds….not going much over one minute (my guess is very few go past 1:30). There are certainly exceptions–if your over-view is super-strategic. But you don’t want to get too wrapped up in the overview and miss the line by line.

    If you are creating a longer overview (which often happens on the negative given the time advantage in the negative block) or in final rebuttals (2NR, 2AR)–you may want the judge to use an additional sheet of paper–because otherwise flowing overviews skews the flow of the rest of the answers on the given sheet of paper.

    To me overviews were always fun to write:

    1. I was probably going to use them multiple times

    2. It allows you to think at a higher, strategic or more global viewpoint

    3. It allow to shape and frame the debate, ballot choice, the adjudication criteria for the debate

    And ultimately for all the 5 reasons I listed at the top. (although not all overviews do all 5 things).

    Like all writing…you have to dive in. You need to get something down on paper–and then edit it over time. It doesn’t have to be perfect–it just has to be good enough–or the best you can do at the time. And the overview can improve over time. And one of the best ways to get better at overviews is to listen to other people who are successful give their overviews.

    By the way, I tended to put overviews on colored paper, in the same way I put disad shells and 1ac on colored paper. This helps a bit with organization. And obviously having a typed & saved version helps too.

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