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CNDF Basics 5 - What's a CNDF Summary Speech?

By Eliz Zhou

Summary speeches are the last speeches in a round. As the name suggests, they summarize what happened over the course of all the previous speeches. It’s important to note that while you can reframe certain things that were said, you may not bring up any new content.

Customarily, summaries are organized using themes. Themes are areas of the debate that have encountered clash, and you should be prepared to clearly articulate how your team wins on these areas of clash. Themes can be broader values that come up in the round (justice, happiness, freedom, etc.), or they can be tangible, more specific benefits depending on the round (job growth, production efficiency, etc.)

Each summary should include two themes for the judge to vote off of. They should be signposted, and you can introduce your themes by saying “which side best helps/preserves __[theme]__”. So, for instance, if I was affirming that cars should be banned, I could say something like “Judge, I have two themes for you today. First, which side best protects the environment, and second, which side has a better long-term result.”

It’s also important that you’re not just summarizing what your team said in the round. For your themes and -- by extension -- your summary to be effective, you should integrate weighing mechanisms into each theme. This matters because reiterating why your opponents are wrong is much better than assuming the judge knows you’re right. A good format to follow is shown below:

  1. Question 1: “Which side _____________________”

  2. Summarizing your own analysis: “We win on this theme because _______________”

  3. Comparison/Weighing: “My opponents said __________________________, but actually, we think that ____________________”

  4. “This is why we win on this theme”

  5. Repeat steps 1-4 for your second theme.

For any questions, send us a DM @equalproposition on Instagram or an email at


Eliz Zhou is a guest writer. She has been debating since 2017 and coaching since 2019. She was the Champion team and 4th top speaker at Stanford, the Finalist team and 1st top speaker at SFU, and a Quarter-Finalist and 6th top speaker at Puget Sound.

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