Rebuttal speech

Rebuttal speech

In policy debate, a rebuttal speech is one of the last four speeches of a round. Rebuttal speeches are not followed by cross-examination.


As suggested in its name, the rebuttal speech consists entirely of rebuttals. These rebuttals address the opposing team's substantives and show why they fall.


There are three tiers for a debate, the Not True tier, the Even If tier and the Furthermore tier. The first is used when the opponents' substantive is factually incorrect, the second for when it does not prove or disprove the motion and the third for when it has already been addressed before.



In high school, rebuttals are 5 minutes long; in college, they are 6 minutes long. Other formats put them at the same length as other speeches, with the third speaker delivering a speech consisting entirely of rebuttals.


Many believe that new arguments cannot be introduced in rebuttal speeches, and many judges will disregard such arguments, especially if they are flagged by the opposing team. This is because substantives introduced in rebuttal speeches have no speaker to rebut them, and thus will prevail unfairly.


There are many different styles for rebuttal speeches used by debaters. Aggression and humour may be used in varying amounts; for example, one speaker might deliver a polite, straight speech logically rebutting the opponent's substantives, while another may load his or her speech with sarcasm and practically shout at times. Such variations are usually not penalised, because they are recognised as individual styles and not as errors.

ee also

*Constructive speech

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