How To Prepare For a Debate and win: A debate, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is a formal discussion on a specific topic at a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which competing viewpoints are presented and which usually finishes with a vote. A debate is a well-organized discussion.
Two sides alternate speaking for and against a certain point of dispute, which is frequently centered on a current subject. Unlike disagreements with family or friends, however, each individual is given a specific amount of time to speak and any interjections are carefully monitored.
Because the topic of the argument is frequently predetermined, you may find yourself needing to endorse viewpoints with which you do not ordinarily agree.
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Table of Content
The Different Types of Debate
a. Debate in Parliament: A legislative discussion is held to support or oppose proposed legislation. They cannot be postponed or delayed due to a lack of research, and it places a strong emphasis on reasoning and persuasion, two essential skills for any excellent debater.
Furthermore, because it resembles British parliament discussions, it is the most prevalent style of debate employed in parliament and assemblies.
You will have 15-20 minutes to prepare your discussion before each round, and you are only allowed to bring a pen and paper inside the prep area. Six speeches are spoken during a round of parliamentary debates: four constructive and two rebuttal speeches.
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b. Academic Dissension: Academic debate is a fantastic approach to improve your educational skills while also learning about new subjects. Many different speeches, such as Lincoln Douglas, might be used as a model for the format.
Students learn how to defend their point of view in front of others through debate competition. Improve your writing and thinking skills as well.
c. Leaders Debate: It’s also referred to as a presidential debate since it allows contenders to introduce themselves to potential voters. They’re broadcast on the radio, and they’re hosted on the internet by media companies or organizations that aren’t affiliated with any government.
d. Debate on Team Policy: Two debaters battle against each other in eight speeches, four constructive and four rebuttals, as well as cross-examination, functional and strategic amounts of evidence swiftly and clearly.
Furthermore, it is the most popular debate format in high school and college. It is mostly concerned with evidence collection and organizational skills. It’s critical to realize that cross-examination can be utilized as part of a strategy to defeat your opponent.
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e. Debate on Cross-Examination: In college, cross-examination is a new sort of debate that takes place in between speakers. It is the technique in which an opponent debater asks questions in order to fully comprehend and clarify their opponent’s point of view.
A cross-examination debate allows you to engage your opponent and show that you are confident in your ability to talk convincingly.
f. The Lincoln–Douglas: The Lincoln–Douglas debate is a sort of one-on-one competitive debate popular in high schools across the United States. Because the format generally emphasizes logic, ethical ideals, and philosophy, it is frequently referred to as a values debate.
Its main purpose is to convince as well as to present a clear and cohesive argument. It gives a free and open forum for people from all walks of life to express themselves.
To avoid the mindless memorization and repetition that so many young debaters have to deal with, they should concentrate on logical argument to defend a broad premise. Furthermore, the Lincoln-Douglas format is simple.
g. Spontaneous Argumentation: Students can improve their speaking and debating skills by participating in a spontaneous argumentation (SPAR) debate. The debaters are given subjects at random and have only a few minutes to prepare their remarks. Because there is no need for research-heavy arguments in these types of talks, they focus more on presentation than content.
This style of speech appears to be less difficult to prepare than other speeches that demand a significant amount of time.
h. Constructive Dissension: In a constructive speech, you should use evidence and reasoning to back up your key points. To do so effectively, you must first introduce yourself in an engaging manner that grabs the audience’s attention.
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Basic Debating Techniques
a. Style: The way you present your ideas is referred to as style. This is the most fundamental aspect of debate to learn. Content and strategy are useless until you communicate your message with confidence and conviction.
b. Speed: It’s critical to speak at a speed that’s rapid enough to sound clever and give you enough time to convey what you’re thinking, yet slow enough to be understood.
c. Tone: It’s your varied tone that makes you sound interesting. It’s tedious to listen to one tone for the duration of a talk.
d. Volume: While it is occasionally important to speak loudly, it is not necessary to shout throughout every dispute, regardless of context. There’s no need to speak louder than the volume at which everyone in the room can hear you comfortably. It’s obvious that speaking too quietly is a bad idea because no one will be able to hear you.
e. Clarity: Debating is all about being able to convey difficult problems succinctly and convincingly. The main reason people start sounding muddled is that they lose their “stream of thought” that keeps them moving. It’s also critical to keep things plain. Long words might make you sound intelligent, but they can also make you sound incoherent.
e. Note-use and eye contact: Notes are necessary, but they must be concise and well-organized in order to be useful. Attempting to speak without notes is a waste of time. Of course, notes should never become obtrusive and interfere with your audience’s ability to hear you, nor should they be read verbatim. Most people make a rough outline of their speech, with brief notes beneath each category.
When making rebuttal notes during a debate, it’s best to do so on a separate sheet of paper so you can take down the specifics of what the other speakers have said and then transfer a rough outline onto the notes you’ll be using.
Maintaining eye contact with the audience is crucial, but shift your gaze as needed. Nobody enjoys being scrutinized.
Preparing For a Debate: 9 Steps to Win
1. Understand your topic: Each debate’s topic is chosen by the moderator. In any argument, there are always two sides: the affirmative and negative positions. To debate effectively, regardless of the stance you’ve been assigned, you’ll need to know a lot about the subject. Remember that knowledge is the cornerstone of excellent argument.
Going to a debate without understanding anything about the subject is like to drafting a research paper without doing any study. The topic will almost always be a long-standing contentious issue or a recent problem that has to be resolved. Once you’ve received the topic, have a discussion with your team about everything you know about it.
2. Make a list of your counter-arguments: Preparing your counterarguments is, of course, a necessary part of learning how to be a better debater. Here are two crucial pointers for debaters: First and first, never underestimate your opponents; second, expect that they are as well-informed and prepared as your team.
Understand that criticizing your opponents’ ideas in order to deconstruct and discredit them is one of the most effective debate methods. This means you should not only evaluate your opponents’ arguments, but also come up with counter-arguments.
3. Use stats and evidence to support your points: One secret about winning a debate that many people don’t really know is the use of stats or evidence to support arguments. First and foremost, you have to understand that a debate is not just a contest to know who is better in public speaking, shouting, time management or seriousness only. What matters the most is what you have to support your arguments.
So for example, if you say that a “Lawyer is better than a Doctor”, what do you have to show it? That is where stats and evidence comes in. When you able to prove your point with evidence and stats then you are good to go.
Also, there is no doubt that people tend to be more interested in what you are saying during a debate when you have authorities added. Trust me, even when those authorities are wrong it will be counted as a plus to you. However, that doesn’t mean you should go about giving wrong and fake evidence just to prove your point. But off course, you can mention authorities like websites, magazines, professionals, books etc, to support your points and that will suffice.
4. Establish Your Refutations: If you want to know how to effectively debate, you need be able to develop refutations. As previously mentioned, developing counterarguments to counter your opponents’ arguments is a successful strategy. A smart debater, on the other hand, is aware that opponents will prepare their own counterarguments.
Anticipate the counterarguments that the other side may use against you and prepare appropriate solutions. It can cost you points if you fail to refute your opponents’ counterarguments. Successfully defending your points with refutations, on the other hand, will not only show the judges that you have prepared for the debate, but it will also hurt your opponents’ morale.
5. Get your cue cards ready: At this point, you must know your topic and have prepared your arguments, counterarguments, and refutations. It’s best to learn these by heart, although memorizing them can be difficult. After all, you are only human, and you are prone to make mistakes. Prepare cue cards to address this issue.
Organize your cue cards and use them as a reference when making your statements. Your cue cards will act as a guide to ensure that you do not forget anything or wander from the topic, similar to how cue cards are used in presentations. But don’t forget to write legibly; you don’t want to waste time straining at cards that are nearly unreadable.
6. Get acquainted with the rules: Knowing the rules is another important aspect of debate preparation. Debate is a straightforward notion. Your primary goal is to persuade your audience that your viewpoint is correct. However, while the premise is straightforward, the mechanics can be challenging.
Debate rules and steps differ based on the mechanics established by your teacher or group. Their rigidity, on the other hand, is something they all have in common. Because it would be unjust if debaters were allowed to break from the rules, they are tightly enforced. As a result, learning how to prepare for a debate should entail a comprehensive review of these rules. Remember that teams will be fined if they break the regulations. When it comes to debate, the more rules you know, the less likely you are to breach them.
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7. Set a Time for Yourself: Staying within the time limit is one of the most crucial rules of debate. Each participant is given the opportunity to present their case and answer to their opponents. Debaters are given varying amounts of time, but it is usually only a few minutes. Some discussion organizations, for example, limit participants to only four to five minutes.
Because you only have a limited amount of time to present your ideas, you must use it wisely. Learn how to discuss in a clear and succinct manner. Use straightforward and precise language to avoid being excessively wordy. Because of the time constraint, you must select only your strongest arguments. When practicing, use a stopwatch to guarantee that you do everything before you run out of time.
8. Perform your practices in Front of a Mirror: While evidence-based arguments are the most important tools you may employ in a debate, your presence and demeanor are as important. After all, debating is a sort of public speaking. While debating, you should have a cool and confident demeanor.
When your opponent’s score points, don’t seem disheartened or dejected; displaying your emotions will simply encourage the other team to focus their efforts on lowering your morale. Practice in front of a mirror to monitor and enhance your body language. It’s important to remember that learning to debate entails more than just memorizing or disputing points; it also entails carrying yourself with charisma.
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9. Rehearse: Debating is primarily a team endeavor, despite the fact that debaters are granted the floor separately. A team is only as strong as its weakest member, as the proverb goes. You should support one another in becoming better debaters. Study debate tips together and put them into practice. Don’t be hesitant to give each other feedback. Recognizing each other’s flaws will help you grow as a couple in the long term.
Learn how to organize a debate for optimum efficiency. Then, with your teammates, arrange a debate. Half of the squad, for example, may pick one side while the other takes the other side. This strategy will acquaint you with both sides of the argument. As the opposing side looks for flaws in your reasoning, this will also help you defend your stance. These debating methods can help you do better in the argument. Remember that the more you understand about all sides of an argument, the more likely you are to win a debate.
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Though participating in a debate might be intimidating, it can also be rewarding since it broadens your awareness, encourages critical thinking, and sharpens your persuasive abilities. However, you must know how to prepare for a discussion in order to be effective.
The tactics and tips mentioned will aid you in your preparation for debating tournaments. A good debate requires a mix of topic knowledge, argument ability, and the ability to express the appropriate attitude. You can both train your intellect and win discussion competitions by using these tactics.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ACMC, is a Law Student and a Certified Mediator/Conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a Developer with knowledge in HTML, CSS, JS, PHP and React Native. Samuel is bent on changing the legal profession by building Web and Mobile Apps that will make legal research a lot easier.