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6.4: Speaking Strategies - Debate Skills, Part I

  • Page ID
    188573
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    In Unit 5, you had the opportunity to be involved in a formal debate—“formal” meaning there were two sides, and it was organized in some way. In this section, we will begin to look at some basic debate skills.

    First, what is a debate, and why are debate skills important? A debate is not a passionate fight or an angry challenge, but a controlled, respectful argument for or against a certain issue that is usually viewed as controversial in some way. People who are in a debate use reasons, examples, and statistics to prove their point in order to persuade a group of people who are judging the debate, or audience members. What differentiates debates and regular arguments? There are rules that debaters must follow!

    A good example of these rules is the structure of debates. Let’s look at one common format for a debate. Imagine there are two teams with two members each. Team A is “for” an idea (pro) and the Team B is “against” (con). Here is one way the debate can be formatted:

    Team/Speaker #

    What to present

    Time to present

    Team A / Speaker 1

    Introduces the topic, and presents the team’s first argument.

    5 minutes

    Team B / Speaker 2

    Presents the team’s first argument.

    5 minutes

    Team A / Speaker 1

    Presents the team’s second argument.

    5 minutes

    Team B / Speaker 2

    Presents the team’s second argument.

    5 minutes

    BREAK

    (Both teams prepare rebuttal statements)

    5-10 minutes

    Team B / Speaker 1 & 2

    Both speakers present their team’s rebuttal statement to Team A’s two points. After, they summarize their main points.

    10 minutes

    Team A / Speaker 1 & 2

    Both speakers present their team’s rebuttal statement to Team A’s two points. After, they summarize their main points.

    10 minutes

    Speaking Activity

    Make two teams with two classmates on each team. Decide which team is A and which is B. Next, choose a type of sandwich (for example, ham & cheese versus peanut butter & jelly) or a writing instrument (pen versus pencil)—something simple and easy to support. Remember that you are not trying to “win,” but simply practice the debate structure. After, make a quick list with your partner of strong points about your chosen item. For example, if you chose a pencil (and the opposite team chose pen), you could point out that pencils are better because a writer can erase what he or she has written, making mistakes unnoticeable on a paper. Use the chart below to structure your mini-debate!

    Team/Speaker #

    What to present

    Time to present

    Notes

    Team A / Speaker 1

    Introduce the topic, and present your team’s first argument.

    1 minute

     

    Team B / Speaker 2

    Present your team’s first argument.

    1 minute

     

    Team A / Speaker 1

    Presents your team’s second argument.

    1 minute

     

    Team B / Speaker 2

    Presents your team’s second argument.

    1 minute

     

    BREAK

    (Both teams prepare rebuttal statements)

    2 minutes

     

    Team B / Speaker 1 & 2

    Both speakers present your team’s rebuttal statement to Team A’s two points. After, summarize their main points.

    1 minute

     

    Team A / Speaker 1 & 2

    Both speakers present your team’s rebuttal statement to Team A’s two points. After, summarize their main points.

    1 minute

     

    After you have finished your debate, talk about the process with both teams. How was this different from a usual argument between two people? What are some strengths to debating? How can debating skills be used in regular conversations?


    This page titled 6.4: Speaking Strategies - Debate Skills, Part I is shared under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Daniel Velasco.

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