How to prepare for a debate competition

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How to prepare for a debate competition:

What is a Debate?

• It is an argument with rules
• two teams present topic that they will debate often prearranged
• Timed arguments
• One team is for the Debate (PRO or affirmative) and the other team is (AGAINST or negative)
• A judge decides at the end of the debate who is the winner (based on point system)

Why debate?

• It is an excellent way of improving speaking skills and is particularly helpful in providing experience in developing a convincing argument.

Benefits of debating include:

  1. Allowing you to think about aspects and perspectives you may not have considered.
  2. Encourages you to speak strategically.
  3. Improving public speaking skills.
  4. Learning how to create a persuasive argument.
  5. When you have to argue against your personal view you realize that there are two sides to the argument.

The Basic Debating Skills

Style is the manner in which you communicate your arguments.
fast enough to sound intelligent but slow enough to be easily understood.
The varying tone is what makes you sound interesting. Listening to one tone for an entire presentation is boring.

The Basic Debating Skills

– Speaking quite loudly is sometimes a necessity, but it is by no means necessary to shout through every debate regardless of context. Shouting does not win debates.
– The ability to concisely and clearly express complex issues is what debating is all about. It is also important to keep it simple.

The Basic Debating Skills

• Use of notes and eye contact
– Notes are essential, but they must be brief and well organized to be effective.
– When writing notes for rebuttal during the debate, it is usually better to use a separate sheet of paper so you can take down the details of what the other speakers have said and then transfer a rough outline onto the notes you will actually be using.
• Eye contact with the audience is very important. but keep shifting your gaze. No one likes to be stared at.

The Basic Debating Skills

• Content
– Content is what you actually say in the debate.
The arguments used to develop your own side’s case and rebut the opposite side.
Case (argument)
– Introduction -The first speaker in a debate must make sure that the resolution is clearly stated and defined.
– In the end, once everyone has spoken, it is useful to briefly summarize what your group has said and why.

How to do it

• Case (argument)

  1. The best way to do this is to divide your case into between two and four arguments (or divide your case based on the number of people in your group).
  2. You must justify your arguments with basic logic, worked examples, statistics, and quotes.

Example of a case outline

• “The media exert more influence over what people think than the government does.
• This is true for three reasons.
• Firstly, most people base their votes on what they see and hear in the media.
• Secondly, the media can set the political agenda between elections by deciding what issues to report and in how much detail.
• Thirdly, the media have successfully demonized politicians over the last ten years so that now people are more likely to believe journalists than politicians.”

Rebuttal (opposing argument)

• Arguments can be factually, morally, or logically flawed. They may be misinterpretations or they may also be unimportant or irrelevant.
• Example: “Banning cigarette product placement in films will cause more young people to smoke because it will make smoking more mysterious.”
• This is logically flawed, the ban would be more likely to stop the steady stream of images that make smoking seem attractive and glamorous and actually, reduce the number of young people smoking.

Rebuttal (opposing argument)

• There are a number of things you should do to systematically break down a team’s case:
• Consider what the general emphasis of the case is and what assumptions it makes. Try to refute these.
• your aim is to show the other side’s case to be flawed in the key areas.

Debating Tips and Strategies

•DON’T sidetrack your opponents with irrelevant points, stay on topic.
•DON’T attack your opponents.
•DO thoroughly research your topic.
•DO stick to your planned, researched arguments.


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• DON’T try to “juggle” too many points at once. State your ideas in a logical order.
• TIP: the more you practice and plan your speaking, the less nervous you will be.

• DON’T use inappropriate language or gestures:
• People will ignore your information if not presented in an appropriate manner.

Follow these tips and suggestions, and everything will come together for a
successful debate!!!

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