Parli Cheat Sheet   

Ben Edwards

Originally Created for Mt. Lebanon HS Forensics

(Click here to download a copy in PDF format)


            You get 30 minutes to prepare after getting the resolution. The resolution may either be prepared or extemporaneous. If prepared, your prep should be spent solidifying your points and coming up with potential comebacks that speakers 2&3 will have to rebut in the Member of Government (MG) speeches. If it is an extemp resolution, you first need to decide what kind of resolution it is. That goes as follows: THBelieves (Policy resolution. You need a plan to fix the problem); THShould (LD resolution. Prepare for a value debate with no answers. Be ready with philosophy.); TH/Will (Fact debate. There is an answer, is it right or wrong). After that, you should evaluate who would be best positioned to do each speech. More depth is presented on this below. After that, you should begin working on your main points and which examples you will use to prove your points using a Claim-Warrant-Impact (CWI) structure. Spend the remainder of your time writing an introduction (Opening Speeches: PM/LO) and preparing for rebuttals by bouncing counter-arguments off of each other (Support Speeches: MG/MO). Everyone on the GOV side should leave prep-time with a completed flow.

Speech Structure and Responsibilities

1st Affirmative (Government/Prime Minister) – 6m

            The main responsibility of the PM is to set the framework for the debate and lay down pre-emptive attacks against the Opposition (heretofore referred to as OPP). The framework is paramount in this extemp debate because if you don’t lay down effective framework, the OPP can do so, or worse, crush you on topicality (T) or run a critique (K) of your case that means that you automatically lose if they are able to convince the judge of these points. The person doing this speech should be the one who has knowledge, but also the bravado to introduce the debate with some quality. Your best analytical speakers should be left for the later speeches and your most organized should be used first. There is little in Parli more difficult than to back up an inferior PM speech.

            But first, back to framework. Begin with a “roadmap/signpost” telling the judge what you’re going to talk about and when you’re going to talk about it. The most important aspects of the debate to define are “This House” and all conceivable impact words words. For example, if the resolution says “This House believes (THB) that the Pittsburgh Steelers are the best team in the NFL,” you need to figure out where the resolution should be most appropriately debated. In this case, you can define “TH” as the people in this room; 3 opponents to a side believing in opposing viewpoints leaving the judge to make the final decision on who deserves to win the debate. If the Government (GOV) does not define TH, OPP can make it whatever they wish and slant the resolution undeniably in their favor. In addition to TH, the rest of the important words should be defined as well. Parli does not allow computers or files and puts little impact on statistics and quotes. Knowledge and good arguments are rewarded, and you can’t take advantage of that knowledge without good framework. In our resolution, “The Pittsburgh Steelers” should be defined as a professional football team. You may choose to add additional caveats that either limit the debate to the players on the field or extend the debate to coaches, owners, or to include history. Timeframe should also be decided upon at this point in the framework. Basically, are we talking about right now, later on, or for all-time? The great challenge and excitement surrounding Parli is that you get to pick!

You also need to outline the burdens. Describe what you should need to do to prove your side to the judge, and then tell your opponents what they should need to do as well. This clarifies the debate and weakens T arguments.

            After your framework, ask if your opponents have any questions. You should probably be around the 1:30 mark if you’re doing this correctly. Doing this restricts your opponents’ ability to run T, because you basically settle on definitions now or they have to take up all of their time to introduce their own. In the event that they are already standing to ask for a point of clarification/information (POI/POC), let them have this one and show how courteous you are. Remember, they can stand up at any time and you get to decide whether or not to take their questions. Limit them to 3 questions (fewer if you are weak at this) and find a nice way to deny them speech time.

            Now, you move on to the actual case. Give three solid arguments that you and your partners have created during prep-time using CWI structure. Using CWI will keep you organized and will make the debate run more smoothly for both you and your opponents. Provide cursory information and go into as much depth as time permits. The finer points and most of your analysis should be left to your analysis-heavy MG specialists. Remember to stay as focused as possible. Nothing is more important than keeping your opening points simple, convincing and easy to understand. This is NOT a “spread” debate. Both MPs should be flowed in advance and should be preparing for rebuttals and potential questions that they can ask LO.

1st Negative: Leader of Opposition (LO) – 6m

LO should be your best debater. They need to be a showman and an evil genius. They need to be well-versed in debate and quick on their feet. The best debaters all want to be LO, because if you are good at it, it is by far the most fun you will have in debate.

The LO should be frantically flowing during the PM speech (no prep time) and MOs should be prepping the LO by talking quietly and passing notes. You don’t know how GOV is going to define the resolution, so be sure to ask for POCs if you miss information. Also, try and ask at least FIVE questions until they stop allowing you to do so. Ask the first one after exactly one minute of protected time and attack their definitions. But remember, be courteous when asking for these points and accept graciously if you are denied. MOs should write the off-case while the LO is flowing, again sharing ideas through whispering amongst themselves and passed notes. 

Begin your speech by providing a “roadmap” which includes framework attacks (if any are present) including a T (usually abuse), possible new definitions, a rebuttal of their case, and your “Off-case.” This is a style choice, but I see no reason not to run a T on every LO speech. Explain that if the judge buys your Topicality, you win because the GOV has not presented a fair debate that can be effectively argued by both sides. But if they don’t buy that (and they usually won’t), attack their case first and give your Off-case afterward. Be sure to address your burden if they give you one. If they haven’t, make one up. Whatever they don’t do, capitalize and do it yourself because they have GIVEN you that right! 

Allow at least two minutes for the Off-Case or you will lose it and have to debate their points exclusively for the remainder of the debate. This is especially important in a THB debate, as you will be presenting a “counterplan”. Your refutations and THREE Off-case points should all be done in CWI format and the LO should study the points written by the MOs as soon as the case is completed. Answers to questions asked during the PM speech can be used in both the refutations and Off-case. You should have an off case because it makes it unfair to put the whole burden on the GOV and judges notice easily that it’s unfair

2nd Affirmative: Member of Government #1 (MG) – 6m

This speech is extremely important if the GOV is to win the debate. The first MG will get the only opportunity to truly crystallize the GOV case and add the details and finer points which the PM did not have time for. Furthermore, they are on damage control. If the PM missed a major point, it is the 1st MG’s job to clean it up. This is why your MG should be your most analytical speaker who can come up with superior synthesis and get a lot done in one speech.

First, again you will roadmap your speech: Framework, Rebuild, Tear down Off-case. Notice that your speech is always addressed first, because in Parli, the On-case is the main issue in the debate because of the burdens set in the beginning. The Off-case takes a backseat, but still must be addressed adequately. The MG’s job gets much harder if the PM is not organized, because they now need to salvage the debate. Furthermore, don’t disagree with your partner if they make a poor point or answered a question poorly; it’s your point now, deal with it and make it better. Your goal is to use your CWI analysis to prove your points and rebut OPP’s and further good debate. Again, limit the number of questions that they can ask to three or fewer. The most important thing is to hit every point on both sides. Otherwise, they “flow through” and you lose them automatically.

During this speech, the PM and 2nd MG should be preparing rebuttals and figuring out ways to go line-by-line in the flow to help 2nd MG succeed. The entire OPP team should be constructing rebuttals and ways to rebuild their Off-case. More attention should be given to the burdens, On-case and definitions/T (if they are still applicable) with this time. Be sure to bring up arguments that GOV did not address, as they flow through to your side, but only if you say so. Also, if OPP did not get to all of their Off-case points, they should re-establish them in the next speech.

2nd Negative: Member of Opposition #1 – 6m

The first MO should be much like the first MG in qualifications and skills. Your speech is about the facts and deconstructional analysis of the debate. Follow the same steps for 1st MG: Roadmap, Framework (most likely the last word on this unless there’s a successful T), their case, your case. Continue to CWI points and provide additional analysis and examples that you and your partners came up with during the MG speech. Back up your LO, and bring the case together on your side. Be organized and go line-by-line down the flow. Take no more than three questions, but probably fewer at this point because you have a lot to talk about. Make sure that you have very organized notes so that you don’t miss anything. Be sure to point out any arguments that they missed and that you can “flow through”/ “extend across the flow for us” for your side. You win these arguments and they automatically become “voting issues” for your rebuttal speaker.