By: Michael Norton, Brandeis 2016
The MG position is one that is highly flow dependent. Not only is the MG speech one that is delivered almost directly off the flow, meaning that the MG must keep a meticulous flow, but the MG has an obligation to maintain a flow for their partner, who is likely too busy writing a PMR to keep a strict flow.
For starters, the MG needs to be prepared to keep a detailed flow. Materials needed include two large enough pieces of paper, notebook paper should do, and two different colors of pens, preferably of the dependable variety. Before the round, set one piece of your paper up into four equal columns on one side, and three equal columns on the other. This paper will be for your flow of the constructive speeches, being the PMC, the LOC, the MG, and the MO. The other paper will be designated for flowing and keeping track of the rebuttal speeches at the end of the round.
At this point, your flow of the constructive speeches should have four equal columns on one side, and three equal columns on the other. The side with four equal columns will be for the “oncase” portion of the debate, and the side with three equal columns will be for the “offcase” portion of the debate. In other words, the side with four columns will be for the government team’s case (the oncase), and the arguments directly responding and extending from that case, whereas the side with three columns will be for the opposition team’s case (the offcase), and the arguments directly responding and extending from that case.
The Nature of Flowing:
When it comes to the nature of flowing speeches, remember the following things.
With each independent point brought up in the PMC, you need to “signpost” on your flow. What this means is that you should make it recognizable and referential so that if you need to find the name of the argument or the number, it should be easy. To make this simpler, whenever they start a new independent point, move down the column about a half inch and write the name of the argument with the number associated with the independent point (first independent point = 1) in a circle. This way, it’s easy to find because it has blank space around it, and it has the number in an easy to find circle.
In this speech, you won’t catch every word. You can only write so fast. As such, write down only the important aspects of the argument, as opposed to the filler, like the rhetoric or the examples. To facilitate catching more parts of the argument, try using symbols or shortened words (demo = democracy, $ = economy, etc).
3. Keep it clean
Don’t succumb to the temptation to flow as fast as you can, and let your flow get messy. Your flow needs to be readable by not only you, but also your partner. As such, remember that quality is more important than quantity. To make it more readable, try writing smaller so that your words don’t bunch together (use smaller font pens to make this easier) or double-space your penmanship.
4. Flowing Responses
When an argument is responded to, flow the response directly next to the argument that it is responding to, and number the responses, as there will likely be several responses to each argument! Try to be as direct with your flowing of responses as possible, so that you can tell exactly which portion of an argument that a response is targeting. To make this easier, try drawing an arrow from the argument being targeted to the response being made.
The PMC is probably the easiest speech to flow because it’s a speech you’re already familiar with, since it’s the position you’re defending, and because it’s all flowed in one column on one side of the paper. The PMC should all be flowed in the far left column on the “on-case” side of the paper, starting about one inch down on the paper. Remember your signposting, as this speech will likely have 3-4 independent points with several distinct arguments within each ones.
The LOC is where the round starts separating onto both sides of the paper. The LO will likely start their speech on the offcase, delivering their own case first. As such, start on the back of the paper (offcase) in the far left column of the paper. The LO may utilize an overview at the very beginning, being a general observation of the round, which should be flowed at the top. If not, treat their constructive arguments like you treated the PMC: flow them thoroughly and keep track of signposting. At some point in the LOC, the LO will flip to the oncase portion of the debate. Flip your paper over, and start flowing their responses in the second column from the left (you may notice a trend developing)
The MG is your speech, so the flowing comes largely from your preparation before the speech rather than during it, like with the other speeches. The MG’s speech should be flowed directly next to the LOC on both sides of the paper (on the oncase, this should be the 3rd column from the left, on the offcase, this should be the 2nd column from the left). This speech will likely be fairly messily flowed, given that it is being prepared and flowed at the same time as the LOC is being delivered, so you will be very busy. To keep from getting too messy, prepare your MG speech with general ideas rather than writing out the argument you’re going to deliver word for word. This also helps with your presentation, as it forces you to argue extemporaneously (off the cuff) rather than off your paper.
This speech is super easy to flow. The columns use for this speech are the last two ones remaining on the far right of each side of paper. The responses will get fairly messy at this point due to all of the arrows and numbers all over your paper, so the best way to keep a clean flow in the MO is to keep a clean flow in the prior speeches so that everything doesn’t fall apart later! Keep in mind that the MO is the only speech in the round that can introduce constructive matter without a constructive speech to respond to it. As such, mark any new arguments or responses in the MO with a recognizable symbol on the flow so that your partner can see them and respond to them effectively in their PMR.
At this point, the constructives are done, so you need to switch papers. Flowing rebuttals as an MG isn’t obligated, but it’s good practice and can be helpful when evaluating the round afterwards. For structure, dedicate one side of the paper to each speech, and keep track of general ideas and weighing of arguments against one another rather than each detail of each argument, as the rebuttals are less about the details of the flow than the abstract portion of the round.