How To Debate

There are a number of things that make a speech good, but they can be summarised under the three broad headings of content, structure and style.

 

1) Content: Obviously, what you say is going to be important. A good speech will show a good knowledge and understanding of the topic. If you know what you are talking about, you will find it much easier to defend it from the opposition. Beware of information overload though. Remember that the use of logic and clever argumentation will be obvious to judges and make your side of the debate more convincing to an audience than loads of facts or statistics.

 

2) Structure: Structure makes it easier for people to take in what you are saying. We recommend that you have three solid points in your speech, which you state briefly in your introduction, and then go on to elaborate during your time speaking. Each of these points should be fairly self-contained. They should stand alone, as one reason why your side of the debate is the right one.

 

3) Style: An appealing style makes people sit up and listen. Speak clearly. Don’t talk into your notes, they are not the ones who came to listen to what you have to say. Try to make eye contact with the judges and the audience. Whatever you do, DO NOT READ. To help avoid reading, when preparing for the debate, do not write in sentences. Write down key phrases that will jog your memory. Words like ‘and’, ‘but’ or ‘which’ are small and hence unimportant. You have heard them a million times before, and will most likely be able to come up with them on the spot. Practise talking around the key phrases. Be funny (if you can), get excited, jump up and down. The audience will care about what you are saying if you look like you do

 

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