A debate contest takes place keeping in mind the scope of thought, knowledge, and respect for the opponent. In a debate contest, one has to present one’s opinion within a specific time frame. Presenting one’s statement as well as refuting the statement of others with logic – the whole matter has to be completed within a certain time. The side that can observe this specific short time correctly will win.

Let’s have a look, how much time is allocated at any stage of the debate competition and how to use this time:


In a debate competition, a timekeeper controls the whole time by ringing the inner bell at regular intervals.

Time Allocation:

Both Traditional and Parliamentary debates are divided into two sections. One is the “constructive” where the debaters construct their cases by establishing their initial positions and contentions. And another one is the “rebuttal” section where debaters give their speeches refuting and offering a contrary contention or argument. Orators have to present their information, disputation within a limited time. 

Traditional debate: 

This is a pretty old version of the debate. Students become familiar with this at the primary level of their debating journey. Let’s learn about time management over the two sections in the traditional debate! 

Constructive section:

A total of six debaters from both parties take part in this section. Each speaker gets four to five minutes to present their speech. The timekeeper warns by sounding a warning signal one minute in advance.

Rebuttal section:

Each team leader has two minutes (three minutes in some cases) to refute the argument. After a minute and a half, a warning signal is sounded by the timekeeper.

Parliamentary debate:

There are two types of this format. The Asian Parliamentary (AP) format is the primary style practiced in India, Bangladesh, Greece, and many other countries. The other is the International Competition format mainly known as British Parliamentary debate (BP) or World’s format. This is mainly followed at premier events, world universities’ debating championships, etc. There are two sections as we know: 

Constructive section:

In the Asian Parliamentary (AP) debate or primary style, each of the six members of the two teams will have five to six minutes to present their speeches consecutively. The Prime Minister of the ruling party will have five minutes in their inaugural address. The next five speakers will have six minutes each. In BP, the first opposition and proposition and the second opposition and proposition will both get seven minutes each. In both cases, a warning signal will be given at the last minute and a final signal will be given at the end of the time. 

Rebuttal Section:

In primary style, the Prime Minister of the ruling party will get three minutes and the leader of the opposition will get two minutes to refute their arguments. In BP there will be five minutes for the opposition and proposition rebuttals. A warning signal will be given at the last minute and the final signal will be given at the end of time by the timekeeper. 

In addition to the issue of time maintenance, some more things are observed in some other places of parliamentary debate:

Besides the timekeeper, parliament speakers have the power of controlling the time whether a debater finishes speeches in time or not! 

  • ️The speaker will alert a debater 15 seconds after the end of the scheduled time (if the debater continues speaking).
  • If the speech does not end after five seconds, the speaker will request him to sit down as the last sentence.

There is an opportunity to raise some points in the parliamentary debate through which it is possible to bring new arguments, allegations of misinformation and prevent personal attacks. But these points have to be raised on time!

  • The point of information would be raised anytime except the protected time  (the first and last minutes) from the opposition. 
  • Points of order ( POO) and Points of Privilege ( POP) should be raised by opponents after 15 seconds of the end of a speaker’s speech. 
  • During whose speech the points will be taken, the debater will have 15 seconds to defend themself.
  • If the point is not accepted, the time used to defend themself will be omitted from the keynote speaker. 
  • Even if points are accepted, time will be omitted. To raise points of information during the speech, the question should be completed in 15 seconds (in some cases, 10 seconds). Time will be deducted from the original time of the speaker while answering.

Debate is an ancient art. Through debate, you can easily show the logic of your words to someone with the opposite attitude. But if you want to win the battle of debate, you must use your time properly in a definite manner. 

Want to achieve a trophy?

Listen carefully to the tick-tock!