Elaborate better: adding the right details

When you have practiced rigorously, and not shown major improvements, you might want to try adding more details in your speech.

When you have covered all debating basics, practiced rigorously, competed in tournaments, and have not shown major improvements, you might want to try adding more details in your speech.

What do we mean by ‘details’? I’ll try explaining with a case.

MotionThis house, as South Korea, would aim to significantly increase its cross-border economic cooperation with North Korea

One possible assertion you might run as a Government team is that North Korea is a potential economic partner that would comply to South Korea’s terms.

To make this work, though, you’ll need to ask some proper questions:

  1. Why would North Korea be potentially beneficial for South Korea?
  2. Why would North Korea comply with South Korea’s terms?

The possible intuitive answers are:

  1. North Korea has a lot of workers that needs jobs and proper wages that South Korea can provide.
  2. North Korea does not have other business partners.

These ideas can be way more convincing when you add a lot of details. Let’s try answering the first question.

Why would North Korea be potentially beneficial for South Korea?

First, you’ll want to emphasise the mechanisms of economic cooperation that South Korea might apply.

Lifting up sanctions, providing manufacturing goods, building manufacturing factories, providing access to South Korea’s beauty and tech industries, can all be answers here.

This detail is important to emphasise what kind of relief South Korea can provide in order to give North Korea some incentive to be economically active.

TL;DR If there are mechanisms, why are those mechanisms helpful for the stakeholders you are dealing with?

Second, explain why it is likely for North Korea to provide economic benefit to South Korea:

1. Resources. South Korea has built leading global high-tech and heavy industries, including mobile phones, semiconductors, LCD TVs, automobiles, steelmaking, and ship-building. To cut manufacturing costs, South Korea needs more land and cheaper labor that are available in North Korea. Why is manufacturing across waters & hiring non-Korean labour much more expensive?

Add details! Here you’ll need to add economic context. What makes it expensive? How can we make it less expensive?

  • Transportation cost is expensive. This includes fuel and labour cost; Sending labour or manufactured goods across seas can be very risky due to unfriendly weather, requiring you to pay for extra protection or insurance.
  • Even if the labourers are cheaper in other Asian countries, if you add up transportation bills and labour wages, that adds up to more than just hiring North Korean labourers and production costs, especially when there are less transportation costs in the alternative.

Don’t forget to conclude! The difference is, working with North Korean labour would be more time-efficient.

  1. Untapped market. (Here, you should add more details by providing context. Talk about North Korea’s conditions, South Korea’s conditions, and why they would benefit each other)North Korean citizens have shown some interest in beauty products and music produced in South Korea. However, they have limited access and can only purchase products produced by the North Korean government. Cooperating with North Korea, which includes introducing them to the South Korean industries, would bring South Korea a massive flood of consumers.

Add details! Specifically, try to preempt your opponent. They might say “South Korea is already rich! Why do we need to work with North Korea?”

Why is this something the South Korean government should care about when the industry is already big to begin with? Well, any additional profit is preferable for growing economies that are striving to compete against economic giants. Even if it’s not significant, it works as a…

  1. Distraction! It is likely that there’s going to be a reduced level of political risk on the peninsula. In other words, military tension reduction, which is expensive to handle, to begin with, due to both countries’ focus on economic activity.(Here, you are adding political context +economic analysis as details)***.*** In addition, the cooperation can be South Korea’s bargaining power due to South Korea’s stronger economy.

Add details! In this case, we need to characterise South Korea’s interests and strategic position. Why do we, as South Korea, care about military tension and political risk? North Korea can be a major threat in military terms. They are very rigorous in training and military development. It is important for the South Korean government to reduce tension, have a good relationship with North Korea, and make sure that North Korea would not be aggressive around South Korea. Basically, having an angry neighbour next-door isn’t ideal.

How to practice detailing

So with those details, we’ve established a stronger case line. The simplistic one-liners at the top may have been enough to prove that economic cooperation is good, but they are extremely vulnerable to Opposition attacks.

The secret to adding more details is to ask the right questions. Those questions can be found by:

  1. Prepare a cheat sheet that contains these questions:
    • What are the economic/political/cultural/geographical/phycological/sociological/historical implications?
    • Is my reasoning strong enough? (A tip from my former coach is to push yourself to think of at least 3 layers of reasoning as to why something is true/likely. Try adding different fields of implication from point 1)
    • What are they key characteristics of the stakeholders (that might support or hinder your case)?
    • Compare! Debates are won and lost on comparison. Show why something does/does not happen only on the other side.
  2. Alternatively, try case-building as your opponent (preempting). Ask yourself: “How would my opponent rebut my arguments?” If you are Government team, try case building as the Opposition team, and vice versa.

How can you be better at preempting and thinking of details intuitively?


By practicing a lot!

  1. Individually, you can try look for motions under a relevant or trending topic and build a case by yourself as both sides, Affirmative and Opposition. For example, currently, issues about Taliban, Afghanistan, and Western intervention is highly discussed, so you might want to find motion relevant to those topics, then you can build a case while doing some research to add some context to your case.
  2. In a team, you can join spars!
    • You can join free weekly sparring at Meme Seger Spar to sharpen your intuition in preempting your opponent and adding comprehensive details! You can also find a list of upcoming debate competitions and events at our site.
    • If you can’t find judges to voluntarily judge the debate, you can ask your opponents and teammates to give you feedback after the debate—they will always have something to say about your performance.

Now, it is time to practice!

Try elaborating the answer to the second question of the case study above: Why would North Korea comply with South Korea’s terms?

Let us know your answer by replying down below!

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