So, you hate spreading, but everyone on your circuit does it. It’s frustrating for a lot of reasons.
There are two things you can do about this: you can learn to spread, or you can learn to deal with spreading while still going slow. Both of these are valid options; you should probably be able to do both, even if you regularly pick one over the other.
How to spread:
Speed is a skill. It takes time and practice. You’ll have to do drills in order to be good at it - you won’t be able to just start talking really fast, you’ll have to work up to it.
It’s important to understand why you spread, too; spreading isn’t really about how many words per minute you say, but about how many more arguments you can get on the judge’s flow. For this reason, obviously, check the judge’s wiki or ask them if spreading is ok before going – you lose the advantage if the judge only gets half of what you say.
For the same reason, it’s important to be clear. If you have mudmouth (aka you slur your words) you need to either slow down, or do drills to make yourself clearer. These can either just be practicing over-enunciating everything when you do speed drills, or you can do drills with a pen in your mouth. Or both. Both is good. You can never be too clear.
Do speed drills pretty regularly - you’ll want to work up your stamina and get to where you can do them for ~30 minutes and not be too winded. Speed drills that I find helpful are:
- Pen in mouth
- Just reading through your case as quickly as you can (you need to time it anyway)
- Reading backwards (like: anyway it time to need you) - this helps you focus on just pronouncing the words; trying to read and understand makes you slower
- put “and” in between every word
Start out with 10-20 minutes of these every day, making sure to actually enunciate, and you’ll be able to work up to some really high speeds.
How to deal with spreading:
The kid who won state this year never spread(ed?), but he had such terrifyingly efficient time allocation it was like debating a robot. Knowing how to devastate your opponent’s arguments in as few words as necessary is more useful than spewing out 400 wpm if most of them are redundant.
You can increase your word economy by going back to old flows and re-giving rebuttle speeches, focusing on doing this. Along with word economy, you’ll want a good strategy - maybe you’re losing something really badly, but you don’t need it to win? Kick it. Say “I don’t need this to win because I have 3 other winning arguments” and then move on to those instead of wasting time on it.
Also, use your prep time well - look at the round as a whole. At the top of every speech, you should have a one-sentence summary of why you win. You need to have a strategy for how you’re going to tackle the round that’s not “just start talking and hope I get through all the stuff scribbled on my flow.” Collapse your speech to the main points of clash in the debate; don’t just go line-by-line and contradict everything they said, pick out the important stuff and answer it well.
If you don’t understand what they just said, you can totally just ask them in CX. That said, don’t ask for each tagline individually - that takes forever, is boring for the judge, and makes you look a tad incompetent. Instead, ask about how their case functions as a whole, what the central thesis of it is, and what major impacts they solve for. If they look uncertain about something, press it enough for the judge to notice, and then move on.
If you know that they’ll be spreading before the round, ask for a copy of their case - carry around a flash drive if you have a computer so they can send it to you, or ask for them to hand you each page as they finish reading it. If you don’t get their case before/during the speech, ask for it at the beginning of CX. You can look over it during your prep time.
read theory. Spreading in itself is not bad for the debate community any more than evidence use is. Using reactive theory that seeks to have someone lose for doing something you don’t like, rather than developing the skills to respond to it, does.