Debating is an extremely useful skill to have. Being a good debater can bring many benefits such as job success, leadership opportunities, as well as good grades in school. If you’re wondering how to debate successfully, we’ve got all the tips you need.
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What is Debating
A debate is a structured contest where you try to win by creating the most convincing argument. Debates are oftentimes formal but can occur in informal settings as well.
In a debate, there is usually a statement given, and participants must either choose the affirmative side or the negative side. Debate participants are given some time to prepare and then have the opportunity to speak for a set amount of time. The speakers switch turns between affirmative and negative sides, and finally a judge makes a decision on which side made the most convincing arguments and won the debate.
Roles of the Speakers
1. First Affirmative:
This person sets the scene for the rest of their team by defining terms, listing arguments they disagree with, and stating their interpretations of the topic. The first affirmative speaker also provides 2-3 arguments in their team’s favor.
2. First Negative:
They might try to change the tone of the debate by redefining definitions and then rebut the first affirmative arguments, followed by 2-3 arguments of their own.
3. Second Affirmative:
The second affirmative speaker resolves definition issues, rebuts the first negative speaker, and puts forth 2-3 new supports for the arguments.
4. Second Negative:
Continue to rebut the first affirmative arguments, but focus on rebuttal of the second affirmative arguments and deliver 2-3 new arguments against the notion.
5. Third Affirmative:
Rebut specific arguments from the second negative, and defend important attacks on their team’s arguments. Conclude the argument with a brief summary and try not to include any new information.
6. Third Negative:
Rebut specific arguments from the second affirmative, and defend important attacks on their team’s arguments. Conclude the argument with a brief summary and try not to include any new information.
Defining in the Debate
Many debaters often waste time trying to define terms within their speeches. Before you waste precious time doing so, take the time while writing your speech to determine if you really need to define a term. Ask yourself, “Will it be confusing to judges and listeners if I don’t define this term?” and “Will the incorrect interpretation of this term be detrimental to my argument?” That should help you narrow down the number of terms you need to define in your speeches. Stick to defining only the ones that are absolutely necessary.
How to Debate: Basic Argument Structure
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There are a few ways to divide the argument structure. Try to do what makes the most sense for your topic. For example, you could put each speaker in charge of one area where the argument takes place, such as social, political, and economical. No matter what structure you choose, try to put the most compelling of arguments at the beginning of each speech if you are listing multiple arguments. Here is an example structure: Claim: What is your team claiming? Present the argument in a clear statement. Evidence: Add in any evidence you have to support the claim such as quotes, statistics, anecdotes, etc. Impact: What impact does this evidence have on society? How does this support your claim?
The rebuttal is a very significant part of the debate process. If a team can pick apart the opposing team’s evidence, then their claim falls apart. Here are some common argument flaws to help form a rebuttal:
1. False Dichotomy:
The speaker tries to falsely divide the argument into two sides, when there are in fact many. Sometimes the speaker does this on purpose, but other times it can indicate that they don’t understand the topic well.
An assertion is when a speaker makes an argument that is unfounded, or has no evidence. Give a reason why this is an assertion by showing how there hasn’t been enough evidence to prove the validity of a statement.
3. Morally Flawed:
A morally flawed argument can be rebutted against because, although it could be true, it might be severely morally flawed. An example of this could be, “All stray dogs should be put to sleep because it will save the state money and eliminate the need for animal shelters.”
4. Correlation Rather Than Causation:
This is a common favorite. A speaker may suggest that two pieces of information are linked, when there is no evidence to support that one caused the other.
5. Failure to Deliver Promises:
You can use this in your rebuttal if you notice a speaker has forgotten to follow up on evidence they claimed they would provide. This can happen sometimes if a speaker loses track of their own argument and is a valid item to bring up in a rebuttal.
6. Straw Man:
This is when the opposing team brings up an argument against their own case and then rebuts it.
If a speaker contradicts something that was said previously either by themselves or by a teammate, point out this contradiction as it reduces the team’s credibility.
8. Compare the Conclusion to Reality:
Try to show what it would look like right now if what the other team suggests is implemented. This will likely show how the team’s suggestions are unrealistic or will cause further problems.
How to Prepare For a Debate
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1. Be a Team: Work Together
Remember that you are on a team and that means you work together. Read each others’ speeches, practice in front of one another, and make sure your arguments work together and follow a cohesive line of thought.
2. Write Individual Speeches
Before you come together, break off individually and have each person brainstorm on their own. This will help to bring together a larger assortment of arguments, and will help your team identify which arguments are the main ones and should be presented as such.
3. Analyze the Evidence
You will win the debate by being able to prove that you have the most sound evidence. Triple check the evidence you have to make sure it is accurate and can be proven. Find multiple sources to back your claim.
4. Arguments for Both Sides
Be prepared by having arguments ready in favor of the other side’s argument. In doing this, you are preparing for what the other team will say and can potentially foresee comments from them as well as flaws in their arguments.
5. Prepare Your Speeches
Preparing your speech is an important part of the process. Write it first by yourself, then have your teammates look over your evidence and arguments. Try to discuss your speech frequently with your team so that you are all on the same page about what may happen during the debate.
6. Be Confident
The more prepared you are, the more confident you will become! Every second you spend preparing puts you that much ahead of the competition, so know that preparing will bring you confidence. During the debate, even if you are nervous on the inside, you can fake confidence by always referring to the evidence, pausing when necessary, and making eye contact. Preparing for a debate is all about studying the material. For more tips on study skills, check out our blog post on what study habits to keep and which to drop.
Tips to Win Every Debate Round
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The Art of Rhetoric
- Persuade through invention:
The first part of rhetoric is invention. This means knowing your audiences’ interests and desires and playing into them.
- Argument arrangement:
A good argument arrangement goes far. Try to organize your argument by making your claim, adding in evidence, and showing the impact to support the claim.
- Improve your style by remembering your speech:
If you know your speech by heart, you can start to work on your speaking style. A memorized speech gives you confidence, and with that confidence, you can focus your efforts on delivery.
- Amplify your performance by enhancing your delivery:
Gesture, body language, tone, and eye contact are all significant parts of delivery in debate. It’s not just what you are saying, but how you say it that will win over the judges.
Improve Your Speaking Skills
- Get rid of filler words:
As you practice, take note of when you use filler words such as “like” or “um.” Get in the habit of replacing these words with silence. This will make you look thoughtful, rather than unprepared.
- Find synonyms for overused words:
When you use the same words multiple times in your speech, you bore your audience, appear unprepared, and less well spoken. Avoid this by writing your speech with different words for commonly used ones, and having a list of synonyms for words you believe you will commonly use.
- Slow your pace:
Speaking slowly and calmly helps to deliver your points effectively.
- Be calm when making rebuttals:
Making rebuttals can get exciting and heated, but overdoing the emotion is never a good idea. Remain calm but firm and confident during the rebuttals.
The Dramatic Effect
- Control your movement:
Make all your movements during your delivery neutral, open, defined, and strong. Don’t be afraid to use the full stage to your advantage, but make controlled movements.
- Maintain eye contact:
Try to connect with as many people as possible by moving your eye contact around the room. Practice doing so line by line so you increase the number of people you make eye contact with.
- Diversify your tone:
Don’t be a boring or monotonous speaker, change up your tone! Try to act as if you are talking to your audience, not reciting a speech from memory.
- The dramatic pause:
Dramatic pauses are extremely powerful, but when done at the wrong time can be detrimental to the argument. Master the dramatic pause and put it at the right time for your case.
- Close with passion:
Use a passionate tone of voice when closing — it’s something that will make your argument memorable.
A Class Debate
If you are a teacher looking to have a class debate, the format and rules can be a bit simpler than a formal, traditional debate. First, introduce the topic to your students. Choose a topic that your students will be able to relate to. Then, allow students to choose, or assign affirmative or negative sides, making sure the number for each is even. Some teachers prefer to break those groups further in half so that the teams aren’t as big, which will give you two debates. Give your students plenty of time for preparation, which will include research, speech writing, and practicing. Start the debate, and make sure you are keeping track of time for each speaker. Then, make your judgment. It might be worthwhile to use student judges, or teachers from another class to be the judge(s).
Debating is an important life skill that will help you in many facets of life. Hopefully our guide has answered all of your questions on how to debate, and has prepared you to win your next one! Many young students need to have their first public discussion so they try to find information on debate preparation online. It is not difficult to prepare yourself, but you should spend much time on it, especially if you don’t have much experience. A debate is a process when one group of students provides their arguments for a specific statement and another group provides arguments against it. Both sides have different goals and try to prove that they are right in their statements. To win and have better arguments than your opponents, you should prepare well for such a discussion. Here you will find out a few tips on how to get ready for it, what you need to do before starting, and how to get help with it. If you are going to understand how to prepare for a debate, you should start with choosing a team leader. Then, you should analyze the topic from different sides and discuss the speech with your team to get the best results. To make it more interesting, teams are able to use exciting topics that bring a lot of fun. You should choose the best debate topics to make your discussion more debatable. It helps you to involve more members and make them express their thoughts.
List Of Hints Of How To Prepare For A Debate
- Work Together. When playing in the teams, it is always recommended to cooperate and speak as much as needed. If the members of your team have common goals, each of you should be able to make their investment into the result. If you don’t know how to prepare for a class debate, here you will learn about it. Your team should also get the necessary information and start working on your topic, finding arguments, and gathering evidence.
- Write Individual Speeches. Before discussing anything together, each speaker should have time to brainstorm. They will write their own list of arguments and evidence. It helps everyone to concentrate and find as many arguments you can find when speaking with others. Then, you have to discuss all the speeches collectively and consider which arguments are the most appropriate for your discussion. Each member of the team should have an opportunity to state their position.
- Analyze The Evidence. You have to write a speech based on facts, and if your arguments are not supported by evidence, you should not use them. That is why it is necessary to read your evidence before using it to prove your position. To know how to prepare for a debate competition, you should learn to find evidence. Access online databases, necessary books, and other resources that may contain information on your topic.
- Arguments For Both Sides. If you are going to present arguments against a specific statement, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t find arguments in support of this statement. You have to be ready for the arguments from your opponent so try to foresee what they could tell you. By doing it, you become prepared for comments from your opponents. If you don’t know how to do it well and how to find evidence for both sides, get debate help from people with experience.
- Prepare Your Speeches. If you haven’t taken part in such discussions before, it would be difficult for you to start, that is why, if you prepare them well, your presentation will help you win. If everyone from your team creates their own speech and then you compile them, it will be a good start. You will probably have a small amount of time for writing arguments and discussing them in your team. That is why you should master the time management for college students and learn how to do complex tasks in several minutes.
What conclusion to make?
We hope these debate tips will help you in studying. If you remember them and use them before the presentation with your team, your speech will be more effective and you will be able to win the match. It is not bad to be a newbie debater. Everyone started with small discussions and then moved to much bigger events, that is why you should start now and try to reach the best results with your team. Skills of discussing are necessary for different fields. They are very useful when you need to convince people, show them they’re wrong, develop critical thinking, and help others understand your point of view. You shouldn’t just learn debate tips for students from school, you should follow them. If there are any other specific requirements for your speech, you should also know them before writing it. Check that you understand your idea and objectives before you start working on the speech. If you are going to write my speech for me for it, you need to check that you will have time for it, and don’t make it too big if you will have only a few minutes for discussing. Also, you shouldn’t write about things that you haven’t studied well.
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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. Tips to win Debate Competitions at School 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. Recommended : How to introduce yourself in a debate
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. How to prepare for a Debate presentation 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. Also see: How to introduce yourself professionally 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. How to prepare for a Debate presentation and win excellently Recommended: How to prepare for an interview effectively 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. Recommended: How to conclude and summarise your debate presentation 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. Recommended: How to discover your purpose in life
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. Also see Easy way to remember what you read for long 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. Also see: How To Become the Best Version of Yourself: 11 Effective Tips 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. Recommended: How to gain admission to study abroad: 5 tentative tips 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. How to win a debate excellently Recommended: Countries with the best education system in the world 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. How to win a debate excellently Recommended: Best Books for Lawyers and Students 2022: 16 Must Read Law Books 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. steps for preparing a debate with a class 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. Recommended: Interesting ways to start a speech that captures the audience 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. How to Prepare a Short Preparation Debate 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. Also see: Are lawyers liars? Find out the truth today 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. How to prepare and win a debate argument 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. Also see: How to become a successful lawyer 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. Steps to prepare for a Debate presentation 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. Preparing for a Debate guide 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. Recommended: How to speak in public without fear or anxiety 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. Types of debate 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. RECOMMENDED: Advantages and Disadvantages of air transportation Conclusion 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.
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