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How to Begin a Debate
Last Updated: March 28, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Lynn Kirkham . Lynn Kirkham is a Professional Public Speaker and Founder of Yes You Can Speak, a San Francisco Bay Area-based public speaking educational business empowering thousands of professionals to take command of whatever stage they've been given - from job interviews, boardroom talks to TEDx and large conference platforms. Lynn was chosen as the official TEDx Berkeley speaker coach for the last four years and has worked with executives at Google, Facebook, Intuit, Genentech, Intel, VMware, and others. There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 942,359 times.
Opening a debate the right way will make your audience more interested and help you win your argument. Before your debate , take the time to prepare a solid opening that will win people over.
Grabbing the Audience's Attention
- Your story should capture the essence of your debate . It could explore, for example, the challenges you have faced in relation to the topic, how you overcame these challenges, and the lessons you learned.
- For example, "As a person who suffers from seizures, medical marijuana was a saving grace. My family and I had to move across to the country in order for me to get treated, but it was worth the risk. My seizures decreased from five seizures a day to only one seizure per week."
- Make sure that the story comes from your heart rather than your head. If you're just regurgitating a story from memory, it's not going to land with the audience.
- You can ask, for example, “Would you like to see a loved one suffer for no reason at all?”
- You can say, for example, “A billion tons of plastic are floating in the ocean right now. That is enough plastic to make an island the size of Hawaii.” Then, proceed to talk about the issue and explain to your audience why your resolution is the best one.
- For example, imagine you are giving a speech on why you think higher education is unnecessary for succeeding in life. You could open with, “Mark Twain once said, ‘Don’t let school interfere with your education.’”
- Make sure that quote comes from your heart and feels authentic. It must speak to you and your audience while also making a point.
- For example, if you are arguing that climate change is real, show a before and after picture of a glacier that has been affected by excessive amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Beginning the Debate
- Identify the key terms in your argument and look up their definitions in a range of dictionaries. Choose the most appropriate definition for each word. You want to pick a definition that is neutral and conventional.
- Your definitions can be literal, as well as contextualized. Contextualized definitions add examples of how the concept applies to the real world. For example, a contextualized definition of money would show that money is used to buy services, such as food and gas.
- For example, “My team and I will show you the need, practicality, and benefits of medicinal marijuana. Together we will show that thousands of patients, including young children, who suffer from seizures, find relief in medicinal marijuana. Studies show that medicinal marijuana reduces instances of seizures by 80%. Furthermore, the side effects of medicinal marijuana are not as severe as the side effects that come with conventional forms of medication used to treat seizures, particularly for children. We will show that medicinal marijuana is a practical, safe, and cost-effective solution for patients and their families.”
- In order to demonstrate that your team's policy will work, use policies that have already been enacted as the basis of your policy. For example, you can highlight that a ban on using cellphones while driving is similar to the ban on drinking while driving.
- Try to focus on three important reasons for why the policy is needed or needs to change.  X Trustworthy Source American Psychological Association Leading scientific and professional organization of licensed psychologists Go to source
Presenting the Debate
- Greet your audience by saying, “Good morning faculty and staff. The topic of today’s debate is student parking,” or “Good morning teachers and students. Thank you for taking the time to come to this debate. Today, the topic is student parking.”
- State what your side is arguing by saying, “We believe enrolled students should not have to pay for a parking pass to park on campus,” or “We believe enrolled students should pay for a parking pass to park on campus.”
- Explain the speakers' roles by saying, “As the first speaker, I will be defining key terms and outlining our main argument. Our second speaker will explain the supporting reasons for our argument, and our third speaker will summarize our argument.”
- Remember to maintain eye contact with an audience at the end of a sentence.
- Hold eye contact with an individual for only three to five seconds, then move on to someone else.
- Practice holding eye contact with someone you know for a minute or two. Repeat the exercise 5 or 6 times—that will really help a lot.
- Also, remember to take pauses. Pauses allow you to catch your breath and plan what you will say next. They also allow your audience to process what you have just said.
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- Give yourself a pep talk by looking at yourself in the mirror. Tell yourself that you're awesome, that you're a great speaker, that you believe in yourself, and that you appreciate yourself. Thanks Helpful 9 Not Helpful 1
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- ↑ https://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/01/stories
- ↑ https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/plato-rhetoric/
- ↑ https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/quantitative
- ↑ https://positivepsychology.com/positive-psychology-quotes/
- ↑ https://open.lib.umn.edu/businesscommunication/chapter/11-4-visual-aids/
- ↑ https://www.readingrockets.org/strategies/summarizing
- ↑ https://www.apa.org/advocacy/guide
- ↑ https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201404/5-secret-powers-eye-contact
- ↑ https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/communication-success/201911/do-you-talk-too-fast-how-to-slow-down
About This Article
The best way to start a debate is to open with a bold rhetorical question, a touching personal story that’s relevant to your argument, or a shocking statistic. Once you have your audience’s attention, define the key terms you’ll be using in your debate and summarize your case. For tips on presenting your argument, like how long to maintain eye contact with audience members, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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Debate Introduction Examples For Students
Here are some of the debate introduction examples for students. These are merely a guide on how to draft your own debate introduction and greetings
3 Debate Introduction Examples For Students
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Check out these sentence starters for debate and become a pro at debating..
How to prepare for a great debate?
A debate formally discusses an argument where two groups present opposing opinions about a subject. So, it is clear that while presenting your ideas, you need to consider what the other group might have to say about the topic so that you can present better and winning arguments. Having discussions and debates in English can be challenging, especially if you are a beginner and are unaware of the dos and don'ts of debate. It can get overwhelming, and you need to prepare for the worse. Debating needs a powerful voice and lots of preparation. Don't worry. We have some helpful tips for you to prepare for a great debate. Check them out below-
- If you are going to participate in a group, don't work individually. Brainstorm ideas in a group and have discussions before writing your speeches individually.
- Working in coordination is the necessary first step so that your partners are also aware of the facts and evidence you will use to do their research accordingly.
- Check your facts thoroughly before using them in your content. All the facts and evidence you include to support your argument should be analysed properly, and avoid writing opinions and arguments that are not supported by facts.
- If you include opinions, you should be able to support them with enough research so that if the opposing team cross-questions, you will be able to answer.
- Use powerful debate sentence starters while putting forth an argument to grab maximum attention, and these will also help you look more confident among the audience.
- Don't hold yourself back from researching the opposing motion as well. If you are supporting an argument, it is also important that you research the opposing side of the argument.
- Researching the opposing side will prepare you for the contenders' content of the debate. And you can base your questions accordingly.
- Convincingly opening your debate is also extremely important. You could start your debate with a powerful quote or strong facts to draw attention instantly.
- Practice is crucial to mastering any art. So, if you are nervous about your debate, practice, practice, and practice some more. Your fear will go away!
PlanetSpark 's courses aim to develop new-age skills in students from an early age. Register now and get confident in debating, vlogging, public speaking, etc. [a]
Tips to enhance your debating tone and style.
A good debater has shining confidence that can influence people for the best. If you think that you kids don't possess convincing a nd persuasive powers yet, it is not something to worry about. Persuasion doesn't have to be an innate skill. Some people are quite confident about their manners and argue about any subject from their childhood. They can easily draw attention at parties or any social gathering with their powerful voice. But public speaking skills are something that you can acquire with practice. But remember, you will need a lot of it!
If your kids are beginning with your debating journey, there are a few things they need to consider while preparing their winning debate speech. The tone and style of their debate are essential to grab the audience's attention. We have some useful tips to enhance their debating tone and style. Check them out below-
- Don't stress: The first and foremost rule is for your kids to keep calm. When preparing the content, they should not think about winning or losing. Just focus on the topic. Overthinking the performance and the results will only create stress, and they will not be able to present the best of their personality in front of the audience.
- Believe in yourself: Debating can seem like a daunting task, especially if they are a beginner. Don't stress about it, there is always a first, and they need to believe in themselves to give their best. Staying confident throughout the process is also important.
- Speak in a bold voice: The voice plays a vital role while presenting an argument. If they are not speaking clearly, people will not understand their arguments; however strong they are, they will soon withdraw their attention from the speech and will begin checking their phones and shifting in their seats. So, present the arguments loud and clear and change the pace according to the content.
- Use sentence starters for debate : It is crucial to use jargon while presenting arguments to sound persuasive and confident. There are many types of debate sentence starters . Sentence starters are important for discussions in groups as well. If they are discussing a subject among friends, too, using sentence starters can make the argument more effective.
- Focus on your body language : Verbal and non-verbal communication plays a crucial role in a debate. Make sure that they are using hand gestures and body movements effectively. This will help the audience to understand their point in a better way. Also, it is important to make eye contact with the people in the audience and their opponents. It will bring out the confidence in their speaking as well.
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What is the importance of debating?
In today's rapidly moving world, children are expected to have excellent communication skills. This reflects confidence in their personality. PlanetSpark has various comprehensive courses to develop many new-age skills in students to prepare them for a successful future. Debating is one of them. Any student needs to indulge in public speaking activities from an early age to enhance their communication skills and boost their confidence.
Debating is important in many ways. It helps students become confident about themselves and bring out the best in their personalities. Let's check out the benefits of learning debating:
- Boost their confidence - The most important benefit of debating is that students get great exposure while preparing their debating speech and standing behind a podium presenting their arguments—the whole experience of debating fuels their personality with immense confidence.
- Improves critical thinking - Debating is all about presenting well-researched arguments supporting or opposing an argument. Hence, it is a completely rational process. Students will develop critical thinking skills that would be useful for their everyday lives as well. Debating skills make them more rational than emotional. They are not adhering to their opinions just for the sake of being right but giving a well-informed answer even while having a conversation.
- Improves analytical and research skills - Preparing a debate speech needs thorough research while selecting the topic and forming arguments. The arguments and opinions need to be supported by properly analysed facts. So, indulging in research activities from an early age will make them confident about their arguments and opinions.
Register NOW if you want to improve your communication skills or become a great debater!
Frequently asked questions.
1. How do you use the word debate in a sentence?
Debate is a form of formal discussion and arguments where people support their arguments with the help of facts. Different people present opposing arguments on a subject to discuss different opinions and bring forth the pros and cons of the subject matter. You can use the word in various forms, for example, "They will debate about their rise tomorrow".
2. What are the different types of sentence starters?
You can start your speech with a powerful quote. It will hook the audience instantly. Or you could start with introducing yourself like "Hello/Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen", "Welcome to this side of the house", then you can present the motion of your debate. The audience must understand the topic of your debate.
3. What are the examples of sentence stems?
Sentence stems are important phrases to help you begin with your sentence powerfully. You could frame sentence stems according to the content and style of your debate. Some examples of sentence stems are: "I believe that", "I see your point, but…", "I see it differently because", and "I understand your point when you said that…".
4. What is a good sentence starter?
Sentence starters hold their importance according to their applicability. There are various occasions while debating where you can use sentence starters to introduce your opinion strongly. For instance, when you disagree with a person "A", you could start your statement with "A", which has an interesting point. Still, we need to consider…", or a general example would be, "In my opinion…", "I believe that", etc.
5. What are prepositional openers?
Prepositional openers are the sentences that open with a preposition like "under", "inside", "over", "above", etc. Examples of prepositional openers are, "Under the tree, the boy sits", "Over the bridge, the man awaits his children", etc.
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How to Write a Winning Debate Speech
WHAT IS A DEBATE?
A debate is a formal discussion on a specific topic. Two sides argue for and against a specific proposal or resolution in a debate.
Debates have set conventions and rules that both sides or teams agree to abide by. A neutral moderator or judge is often appointed to help regulate the discussion between the opposing sides.
Debating is a form of persuasive communication. We have a complete guide to persuasive writing, which will form the backbone of your debating speech, which can be accessed here.
A COMPLETE UNIT ON CLASSROOM DEBATING
This unit will guide your students to write excellent DEBATE SPEECHES and craft well-researched, constructed ARGU MENTS ready for critique from their classmates.
Furthermore, this EDITABLE UNIT will provide the TOOLS and STRATEGIES for running highly engaging CLASSROOM DEBATES.
How Is a Debate Structured?
Debates occur in many different contexts, and these contexts can determine the specific structure the debate will follow.
Some contexts where debates will occur include legislative assemblies, public meetings, election campaigns, academic institutions, and TV shows.
While structures can differ, below is a basic step-by-step debate structure we can look at with our students. If students can debate to this structure, they will find adapting to other debate structures simple.
1. Choose a Topic
Also called a resolution or a motion, the topic is sometimes chosen for each side. This is usually the case in a school activity to practice debating skills.
Alternatively, as in the case of a political debate, two sides emerge naturally around contesting beliefs or values on a particular issue.
We’ll assume the debate is a school exercise for the rest of this article.
The resolution or the motion is usually centered around a true or false statement or a proposal to make some change in the current state of affairs. Often the motion will start, ”This House believes that….”
2. Form Two Teams
Two teams of three speakers each are formed. These are referred to as ‘The House for the Motion’ or the ‘Affirmative’ team and ‘The House Against the Motion’ or the ‘Negative’ team.
Preparation is an essential aspect of debating. The speech and debate team members will need time to research their arguments, collaborate, and organize themselves and their respective roles in the upcoming debate.
They’ll also need time to write and rehearse their speeches too. The better prepared and coordinated they are as a team, the more chance they have of success in the debate.
Each speaker takes a turn making their speech, alternating between the House for the Motion, who goes first, and the House Against the Motion. Each speaker speaks for a pre-agreed amount of time.
The debate is held in front of an audience (in this case, the class), and sometimes, the audience is given time to ask questions after all the speeches have been made.
Finally, the debate is judged either by moderators or by an audience vote.
The teams’ aim in a debate should be to convince a neutral third party that they hold the stronger position.
How to Write a Debate Speech
In some speech contest formats, students are only given the debate topic on the day, and limited time is allowed for preparation. Outside of this context, the speech writing process always begins with research.
Thorough research will help provide the student with both the arguments and the supporting evidence for those arguments.
Knowing how to research well is a skill that is too complex to cover in detail here. Fortunately, this site also has a detailed article on Top Research Strategies to help.
There are slight variations in the structure of debate speeches depending on when the speech is scheduled in the debate order. But, the structure and strategies outlined below are broadly applicable and will help students write and deliver persuasive debate speeches.
The Debate Introduction
As with many types of text , the purpose of the introduction in a debate speech is to do several things: grab the attention of the audience, introduce the topic, provide a thesis statement, and preview some of the main arguments.
1. The Attention Grabber
Securing the attention of the audience is crucial. Failure to do this will have a strong, negative impact on how the team’s efforts will be scored as a whole.
There are several tried and tested methods of doing this. Three of the main attention grabbers that work well are:
a.) Quotation From a Well-Known Person
Using a quotation from a well-known person is a great way to draw eyeballs and ears in the speaker’s direction. People love celebrities, even if that celebrity is relatively minor.
Quotes from reputable individuals add credibility and authority to your arguments, as they demonstrate that influential figures endorse your viewpoint. They provide a concise and impactful way to convey complex ideas or express a widely accepted perspective. Quotations can resonate with the audience, evoke emotions, and make your speech more memorable. By referencing respected individuals, you tap into their expertise and reputation, lending support to your position and increasing the persuasive impact of your debate speech.
Using a quotation to open a speech lends authority to what is being said. As well as that, usually, the quotation chosen will be worded concisely and interestingly, making it all the more memorable and impactful for the audience.
Numbers can be very convincing. There’s just something about quantifiable things that persuades people. Perhaps it’s because numbers help us to pin down abstract ideas and arguments.
By using numbers, facts, and figures, students can present objective evidence that reinforces the validity of their arguments. Additionally, statistics enhance critical thinking skills by promoting data analysis and interpretation. For teachers, encouraging students to utilize statistics fosters research skills, data literacy, and an understanding of the importance of evidence-based reasoning.
The challenge here is for the speaker to successfully extract meaning from the data in such a way as to bolster the force of their argument.
c.) The Anecdote
Anecdotes can be a valuable way to ease the audience into a complex topic. Anecdotes are essentially stories and can be used to make complicated moral or ethical dilemmas more relatable for an audience.
Anecdotes are also an effective way for the speaker to build a rapport with the audience, which, in turn, makes the task of persuading them an easier one.
2. Introduce the Topic
Once the audience’s attention has been firmly grasped, it’s time to introduce the topic or the motion. This should be done in a very straightforward and transparent manner to ensure the audience understands the topic of the debate.
For example, if the topic of the debate was school uniforms, the topic may be introduced with:
“Today, we will debate whether school uniforms should be compulsory for all high school students.”
3. Provide the Thesis Statement
The thesis statement should express the student’s or the team’s position on the motion. That is, the thesis statement explains the speaker’s side of the debate.
A thesis statement is a succinct declaration that encapsulates the main point or argument of an essay, research paper, or other written work. It presents a clear and specific stance on a topic, guiding the reader on what to expect in the subsequent content. A well-crafted thesis statement should be debatable, meaning there should be room for opposing viewpoints and discussion. It serves as a roadmap for the writer, ensuring coherence and focus throughout the piece, and helps the reader understand the purpose and direction of the work from the outset.
This statement can come directly after introducing the topic, for example:
“Today, we will debate whether school uniforms should be compulsory for all high school students. This house believes (or, I believe …) that school uniforms should not be compulsory for high school students.”
4. Preview the Arguments
The final part of the introduction section of a debate speech involves previewing the main points of the speech for the audience.
There is no need to go into detail with each argument here; that’s what the body of the speech is for. It is enough to provide a general thesis statement for each argument or ‘claims’ – (more on this to follow).
Previewing the arguments in a speech is especially important as the audience and judges only get one listen to a speech – unlike a text which can be reread as frequently as the reader likes.
Examples of strong opening statements for a debate
After explaining the different types of attention grabbers and the format for the rest of the introduction to your students, challenge them to write an example of each type of opening for a specific debate topic.
When they’ve finished writing these speech openings, discuss with the students which of these openings works best with their chosen topic. They can then continue by completing the rest of the introduction for their speech using the format as described above.
Some suggested debate topics you might like to use with your class include:
- Homework should be banned
- National public service should be mandatory for every citizen
- The sale of human organs should be legalized
- Artificial intelligence is a threat to humanity
- Bottled water should be banned.
The Body of the Speech
The body paragraphs are the real meat of the speech. They contain the in-depth arguments that make up the substance of the debate.
How well these arguments are made will determine how the judges will assess each speaker’s performance, so it’s essential to get the structure of these arguments just right.
Let’s take a look at how to do that.
The Structure of an Argument
With the introduction out of the way, it’s time for the student to get down to the nitty-gritty of the debate – that is, making compelling arguments to support their case.
There are three main aspects to an argument in a debate speech. They are:
1. The Claim
2. The Warrant
3. The Impact
The first part of an argument is referred to as the claim. This is the assertion that the argument is attempting to prove.
The warrant is the evidence or reasoning used to verify or support that claim.
Finally, the impact describes why the claim is significant. It’s the part of the argument that deals with why it matters in the first place and what further conclusions we can draw from the fact that the claim is true.
Following this structure carefully enables our students to build coherent and robust arguments.
Present your students with a topic and, as a class, brainstorm some arguments for and against the motion.
Then, ask students to choose one argument and, using the Claim-Warrant-Impact format, take a few moments to write down a well-structured argument that’s up to debate standard.
Students can then present their arguments to the class.
Or, you could also divide the class along pro/con lines and host a mini-debate!
This speech section provides the speaker with one last opportunity to deliver their message.
In a timed formal debate, the conclusion also allows the speaker to show the judges that they can speak within the set time while still covering all their material.
As with conclusions in general, the conclusion of a debate speech provides an opportunity to refer back to the introduction and restate the central position.
At this point, it can be a good idea to summarize the arguments before ending with a powerful image that leaves a lasting impression on the audience and judges.
The Burden of the Rejoinder
In formal debates, the burden of the rejoinder means that any time an opponent makes a point for their side, it’s incumbent upon the student/team to address that point directly.
Failing to do so will automatically be seen as accepting the truth of the point made by the opponent.
For example, if the opposing side argues that all grass is pink, despite how ridiculous that statement is, failing to refute that point directly means that, for the debate, all grass is pink.
Our students must understand the burden of the rejoinder and ensure that any points the opposing team makes are fully addressed during the debate.
Examples of a strong debate Conclusion
When preparing to write their speech, students should spend a significant proportion of their team collaborating as a team.
One good way to practice the burden of the rejoinder concept is to use the concept of Devil’s Advocate, whereby one team member acts as a member of the opposing team, posing arguments from the other side for the speaker to counter, sharpening up their refutation skills in the process.
20 Great Debating Topics for Students
- Should cell phones be allowed in schools?
- Is climate change primarily caused by human activities?
- Should the voting age be lowered to 16?
- Is social media more harmful than beneficial to society?
- Should genetically modified organisms (GMOs) be embraced or rejected?
- Is the death penalty an effective crime deterrent?
- Should schools implement mandatory drug testing for students?
- Is animal testing necessary for scientific and medical advancements?
- Should school uniforms be mandatory?
- Is censorship justified in certain circumstances?
- Should the use of performance-enhancing drugs be allowed in sports?
- Is homeschooling more beneficial than traditional schooling?
- Should the use of plastic bags be banned?
- Is nuclear energy a viable solution to the world’s energy needs?
- Should the government regulate the fast food industry?
- Is social inequality a result of systemic factors or individual choices?
- Should the consumption of meat be reduced for environmental reasons?
- Is online learning more effective than traditional classroom learning?
- Should the use of drones in warfare be banned?
- Is the legalization of marijuana beneficial for society?
These topics cover a range of subjects and offer students the opportunity to engage in thought-provoking debates on relevant and impactful issues.
OTHER GREAT ARTICLES RELATED TO DEBATING
The Ultimate Guide to Opinion Writing for Students and Teachers
Top 5 Persuasive Writing Techniques for Students
5 Top Persuasive Writing Lesson Plans for Students and Teachers
23 Persuasive writing Topics for High School students
How to Write Perfect Persuasive Essays in 5 Simple Steps
Debate: the keys to victory.
Research and preparation are essential to ensure good performance in a debate. Students should spend as much time as possible drafting and redrafting their speeches to maximize their chances of winning. However, a debate is a dynamic activity, and victory cannot be assured by pre-writing alone.
Students must understand that the key to securing victory lies in also being able to think, write (often in the form of notes), and respond instantly amid the turmoil of the verbal battle. To do this, students must understand the following keys to victory.
When we think of winning a debate, we often think of blinding the enemy with the brilliance of our verbal eloquence. We think of impressing the audience and the judges alike with our outstanding oratory.
What we don’t often picture when we imagine what a debate winner looks like is a quiet figure sitting and listening intently. But being a good listener is one of our students’ most critical debating skills.
If students don’t listen to the other side, whether by researching opposing arguments or during the thrust of the actual debate, they won’t know the arguments the other side is making. Without this knowledge, they cannot effectively refute the opposition’s claims.
Read the Audience
In terms of the writing that happens before the debate takes place, this means knowing your audience.
Students should learn that how they present their arguments may change according to the demographics of the audience and/or judges to whom they will be making their speech.
An audience of retired school teachers and an audience of teen students may have very different responses to the same arguments.
This applies during the actual debate itself too. If the student making their speech reads resistance in the faces of the listeners, they should be prepared to adapt their approach accordingly in mid-speech.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The student must practice their speech before the debate. There’s no need to learn it entirely by heart. There isn’t usually an expectation to memorize a speech entirely, and doing so can lead to the speaker losing some of their spontaneity and power in their delivery. At the same time, students shouldn’t spend the whole speech bent over a sheet of paper reading word by word.
Ideally, students should familiarize themselves with the content and be prepared to deliver their speech using flashcards as prompts when necessary.
Another important element for students to focus on when practising their speech is making their body language, facial expressions, and hand gestures coherent with the verbal content of their speech. One excellent way to achieve this is for the student to practice delivering their speech in a mirror.
Debating is a lot of fun to teach and partake in, but it also offers students a valuable opportunity to pick up some powerful life skills.
It helps students develop a knack for distinguishing fact from opinion and an ability to assess whether a source is credible or not. It also helps to encourage them to think about the other side of the argument.
Debating helps our students understand others, even when disagreeing with them. An important skill in these challenging times, without a doubt.
5 Tips for Teachers looking to run a successful classroom debate
- Clearly Define Debate Roles and Structure when running speech and debate events: Clearly define the roles of speakers, timekeepers, moderators, and audience members. Establish a structured format with specific time limits for speeches, rebuttals, and audience participation. This ensures a well-organized and engaging debate.
- Provide Topic Selection and Preparation Time: Offer students a range of debate topics, allowing them to select a subject they are passionate about. Allocate ample time for research and preparation, encouraging students to gather evidence, develop strong arguments, and anticipate counterarguments.
- Incorporate Scaffolded Debating Skills Practice: Before the actual debate, engage students in scaffolded activities that build their debating skills. This can include small group discussions, mock debates, or persuasive writing exercises. Provide feedback and guidance to help students refine their arguments and delivery.
- Encourage Active Listening and Note-taking during speech and debate competitions: Emphasize the importance of active listening during the debate. Encourage students to take notes on key points, supporting evidence, and persuasive techniques used by speakers. This cultivates critical thinking skills and prepares them for thoughtful responses during rebuttals.
- Facilitate Post-Debate Reflection and Discussion: After the debate, facilitate a reflection session where students can share their thoughts, lessons learned, and insights gained. Encourage them to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of their arguments and engage in constructive dialogue. This promotes metacognitive skills and encourages continuous improvement.
By following these tips, teachers can create a vibrant and educational debate experience for their students. Through structured preparation, active engagement, and reflective discussions, students develop valuable literacy and critical thinking skills that extend beyond the boundaries of the debate itself.
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How to Start an Introduction for a Debate
The art of the debate is something that has been practiced among people for centuries. Like any performance or conversation though, the introduction to a debate is the most important part. Your introduction grabs your audience and gets their attention. As such, it should be one of the most thought out parts of your argument.
Research your part of the debate. Say for instance you are arguing for stricter gun control. You should already have your statistics on gun ownership, reasoning for stricter controls and what benefits that should have, and counter arguments against your opposition's likely points prepared before you sit down to work on your introduction.
Examine your points carefully. Your introduction should take the best points you prepared in your debate, without actually using them up front. For example, if you were opening a debate for gay marriage on the pro side, you should mention broad points, such as the idea of equal rights. You should not include specific numbers in your introduction.
Write your introduction. It should include a statement of your purpose and view on the debate, as well as list broad, persuasive points. The language used should be appealing to your target audience, and your introduction should be as brief as possible, taking no more than 20-30 seconds to read aloud.
Test your introduction on a target audience. Find someone outside of your research and ask them to read it, or to listen to you read it. Ask them for feedback. Find out what parts of the introduction work, if the language is right, and if the tone is proper. Then revise your introduction, and try it again.
Once your introduction has been revised, revamped, and tested on other people, it's ready to be read. Care should be taken that every part of your debate undergoes the same treatment as the introduction, otherwise your audience will be sucked in by a false promise.
Neal Litherland is an author, blogger and occasional ghostwriter. His experience includes comics, role playing games and a variety of other projects as well. He holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Indiana University, and resides in Northwest Indiana.
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A Comprehensive Guide to Preparing and Delivering A Debate Speech
Published on: Mar 9, 2022
Last updated on: Jul 21, 2023
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Whether you are a student, a policymaker, or a business leader, the ability to debate effectively can be a game-changer.
Debate speeches are important for anyone wanting to persuade others. However, writing and delivering a debate speech isn’t easy, especially if you are new to the process.
This guide explains simple steps on how to write and deliver an excellent debate speech. It covers everything from preparing your arguments to delivering your speech with confidence and conviction.
So dive in to learn!
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What is a Debate Speech?
A debate speech is a structured argument on a specific topic that is presented in a formal setting.
The main purpose of debate speech is to:
- Express your point of view persuasively and effectively
- Convince the opposition that you are right.
- Change the peopleâs point of view on a particular topic.
In a debate speech, the speaker presents their argument in a clear, concise, and convincing manner. Debate speeches have a set time limit, and the speaker must use their time effectively to make their case and address counterarguments.
Preparing for a Debate Speech
You can only win your debate if you have spent time preparing it well. Follow the steps below to be prepared for your next debate speech.
Understanding the Debate Format
It's essential to understand the format of the debate in which you want to participate. Different debate formats have specific rules and guidelines that you need to follow to succeed.
Some popular types of debates include parliamentary, Lincoln-Douglas, and policy debates.
- Parliamentary debate is a format where two teams of two or three members argue for or against a motion. It is presided over by a moderator. In this format, debaters have limited preparation time to gather information and construct their arguments.
- Lincoln-Douglas debate is a one-on-one debate where debaters argue for their positions on a specific topic. This format usually involves a value system and a criterion that the debaters must uphold and defend.
- Policy debate is a format where two teams of two members argue for or against a specific policy proposal. This format requires in-depth research and analysis of the policy and its potential implications.
Selecting a Position
Choose a topic that you are passionate about and that you feel strongly about. Once you have chosen a topic, narrow it down to a specific aspect that you can argue for or against.
The clearer your position, the easier it will be to research and prepare your arguments.
Need some good debate topic ideas to get started? Check out our list of interesting and engaging debate topics to help you out!
Researching and Gathering Information
Once you have selected your topic, research it thoroughly. Gather as much information as you can from credible sources such as academic journals, news articles, and government reports.
Take detailed notes, and make sure to record the sources you use so that you can reference them later.
Understanding Both Sides of the Argument
To write a persuasive debate speech, it is important to understand both sides of the argument.
Consider the arguments that your opponents might make and anticipate counterarguments. This will help you to strengthen your own arguments and address potential weaknesses in your position.
Organizing Your Arguments
Once you have gathered all of the information you need, organize your arguments in a clear and logical way.
Start by outlining the main points you want to make and then add supporting evidence to each point. Make sure that your arguments flow logically and build on each other.
Practicing Your Delivery
Finally, practice your delivery. Read your speech out loud several times to get a feel for how it flows.
Time yourself to make sure that you can fit all of your arguments into the allotted time. Consider practicing in front of a friend or family member to get feedback on your delivery.
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How to Present a Debate Speech?
This type of speech requires some essential components. Here are the major components you need to present an effective debate speech.
1. Catchy Introduction
The first important step is starting the debate with a compelling introduction. You can begin with a question, a quote, or a statistic related to the topic.
Moreover, your introduction should state your stance on the topic and provides a preview of your arguments.
2. State the Problem & Define Key Terms
Define key terms in your speech that are important to your argument. This helps to ensure that your audience understands the meaning of the words you use.
3. Present Your Arguments
Present your arguments in a clear and logical order. Start with your strongest argument and provide evidence to support it. Then, move on to the weaker arguments and provide evidence for each one.
A good argument often follows the PEE structure, which means âPoint, Evidence, Explanation (PEE)â.
- Point or Reason: This is where you state your main idea or argument, providing a concise and clear statement of your position. The point should be specific, focused, and relevant to the topic at hand. It serves as the foundation for your argument
- Evidence: Here, you provide supporting evidence to bolster your argument. This can take the form of examples, statistics, or any other relevant information that helps illustrate your point.
- Explanation: In this part, you elaborate on how the evidence you provided supports your point. This is where you explain the relationship between your point and the evidence, highlighting its significance
Address counterarguments by acknowledging the opposing viewpoints and refuting them with evidence. This is called a rebuttal.
It shows that you have considered both sides of the argument and strengthens your own position. Addressing counterarguments through rebuttals is a vital aspect of constructing a well-rounded and persuasive argument.
Rebuttals involve presenting evidence that challenges the opposing counter-arguments and weakens their validity. Additionally, it is crucial to explain the flaws or fallacies in the opposing arguments during the process of rebuttal.
End your speech with a strong conclusion that summarizes your arguments and restates your stance on the topic. You can also end with a call to action, encouraging your audience to take action based on your argument.
Tips for Presenting a Debate Speech Effectively
The above steps will help you prepare and present an acceptable speech, but you can improve it even more with the tips below.
- Use Clear and Concise Language
Speak clearly and use language that is easy to understand. Avoid using jargon or complex words that might confuse your audience.
- Emphasize Key Points
Highlight the key points of your argument by using vocal inflection and tone. Emphasize important words or phrases to help your audience remember your key arguments.
- Use Body Language and Gestures
Body language and gestures can help to reinforce your arguments and make your speech more engaging. Use hand gestures to emphasize key points, and vary your posture and movement to keep your audience interested.
- Maintain Eye Contact
Maintain eye contact with your audience throughout your speech. This will help to establish a connection with them and make them feel more engaged with your argument.
- Use Vocal Variety and Tone
Vary your vocal tone and pace to add interest and emphasis to your speech. Use pauses and changes in pace to emphasize important points, and vary your volume to make your arguments more impactful.
- Use the Debate Speech Checklist
Here is a checklist that can help you evaluate your debate.
- Does your speech cover your opinion about the topic?
- Does your speech start with a catchy hook?
- Does your speech cover all the main points?
- Does your speech provide sufficient counterarguments?
- Does your speech contain enough evidence?
- Does your speech provide a call to action to the conclusion?
Debate Speech Examples
Here are some examples to help you prepare and present your debate speech better.
Debate Speech Structure
Debate Speech Template
Debate Speech Sample
Writing and delivering a successful debate speech requires careful planning, research, and effective communication skills.
By following the steps and tips provided above, you can persuade your audience effectively and make a lasting impact. Remember to practice, rehearse, and be confident in your abilities.
Still need expert help in writing your speech? Weâve got you covered!
CollegeEssay.org is here to assist you. We are an expert speech writing service with a team of experienced professionals.
Our AI essay writing tools can help you at every step of the speech-writing process, from selecting a topic to gathering evidence.
We provide customized, high-quality writing services at an affordable price. You can also take advantage from our AI essay writer tool to improve your writing skills.
So why wait? Contact our online writing service and impress your audience with an amazing speech!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the 4 types of debate.
The four main types of debate are:
- Parliamentary Debate
- Lincoln-Douglas Debate
- Cross-Examination Debate
- Academic Debate
What are the 2 sides of a debate called?
The opposition and proposition are the two sides of a debate.
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How to start a debate in school: starting lines for students
Debates have been around for centuries. There are different kinds of debates, from presidential, parliamentary to school debates. Regardless of the type of debate, the goal is to win the argument. How you start a debate can influence your chances of winning the argument. This is how to start a debate in school easily.
School debates encourage students to research, listen and defend a topic of interest. The discussion can involve two or more people with a topic which participants argue for or against. The introduction is perhaps the most crucial part of the whole process of a debate.
What is a debate?
A debate is a discussion or argument between two or more people about a topic. It can be formal or informal. There is a proposition or a topic around which individuals or groups defend or oppose. How do you start a debate? Discover all the tips required to win a debate.
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How to start a debate
A debate aims to win the argument by defending your position. This means a good introduction for a debate cannot be overemphasized. This is because the start can be detrimental to the whole process. Here are the best debate-starting steps to get you ahead.
- Understand the topic . Once you are confirmed as a debater, get the topic of discussion. Ensure you research and understand the topic of discussion. If there is any question on the subject, clarify with the organisers.
- Draft your points . Have your points well-researched and arranged in order. Ensure they are back with facts to support your argument.
- Consider the argument from the opponent's side . This is important because you will need to counter their points. Your opponents will counter your points, and you must have counterarguments ready.
- Plan an introduction . The introduction is one of the most critical parts of an argument. Start with a powerful quote to prepare your audience for your points.
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How to introduce yourself in a debate
An introduction is one of the most important parts of a discussion. It is the opening of an argument. How you start will determine how the rest of the debate unfolds. Below are simple steps on how to begin a debate.
- Draft your introduction points. Ensure they are broad and highlight the best points for your argument, opening with a powerful quote.
- State your purpose and view on the motion.
- The introduction should be concise. Make it short and to the point.
- Read it aloud to a target audience. This will ensure you get feedback.
- Make any changes, if any, once you get feedback.
Debate starting lines for students
Starting your argument immediately on your turn will keep your audience interested. This may even win you the argument at the end of the debate. Below are examples of lines of how to start a debate.
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- If the argument is about animals as food, you can start by asking, "Is killing innocent animals for our food justified?"
- "As a child, I have witnessed a friend cope with depression by playing video games. This is why I oppose the motion that video games are not suitable for children.
- "Did you know scientists have proven that global warming is caused by human activity? This is why I oppose the motion that climate change is a hoax."
- "Do you know social media has ruined lives and careers for people? It has been used to spread propaganda, misinformation and cyberbullying. That is why I oppose the motion that social media is good for society."
- "What if everyone in the world was equal? There is no discrimination because of race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender. Sounds cool, right? The world is trying to make people conform to certain beauty standards. That is why I oppose the motion cosmetic surgery should be illegal."
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Tips to improve your debating style
Students should bring their A-game to the discussion to prepare for a winning argument. Here are some simple tips to help them outshine their opponents.
- Remain calm : Students should not stress when preparing for a debate. They should instead focus on doing their best during the argument.
- Believe in yourself : Although debating can be daunting, you should always have confidence in yourself. Believe you can do it, and you will.
- Be audible: Your voice plays a vital role when presenting your argument. You should ensure the audience and judges can hear you properly.
- Use catchy sentences when starting your arguments: The first sentence will make you sound confident and persuasive.
- Pay attention to your body language: In an argument, verbal and non-verbal communication is crucial. Ensure your body gestures help the audience understand your points.
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Importance of debating
Debating is vital for students . Below are some of the benefits of students learning the art of debating.
- Boosts the confidence of learners. Debating gives students exposure and confidence to face other people.
- Enhances critical thinking of students. Debates are all about thinking out of the box. The rational process helps students develop the necessary thinking skills they can use.
- It helps to improve the listening and note-taking skills of learners.
- Enhances research and analytical skills. Preparing for a motion involves carrying out an in-depth analysis of the topic. This improves their research and analytical skills in general.
Debates in schools are not only entertaining but educative. How you start the discussion can propel you to winning or losing an argument. It is, therefore, one of the most crucial decisions debaters should make. The above guide on how to start a debate in school should help you to win an argument effortlessly.
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How To Start A Debate Greeting: Learn To Introduce Yourself And Greet
A debate is a form of formally organized argument. It is usually between members of two opposing sides where the two sides try to express their views to establish their points. The importance of knowing how to debate cannot be underemphasized and it spreads even beyond the school walls.
Table of Contents
Features of a debate:-
Before we talk about how to start a debate greeting, there are a few features that debates will most likely have;
- Team : There are normally two teams with opposing views and they have at least two members each.
- The judge : In most debates there might not be an eventual winner, however for formalities sake there would always be a judge, or judges.
- Timekeeper : Since you won\’t be having all the time in the world, someone would be there to check the time and usher in your opponent.
- Moderator : The moderator will anchor the event and enforce the rules and regulations.
- Audience : These are the fans and I know no artist would love to perform to an empty audience.
Features of a Quality Debate Presentation
Some of the features of a quality presentation include;
- Logical : Your points have to make common sense. They have to be rational, articulate and explicit.,
- Persuasive : In a debate your aim should be to persuade others to join your point of view.
- Informative : You can\’t expect to win without teaching something new. Your debate should be informative.
- Well Structured : In winning a debate, the importance of your language structure cannot be underestimated.
Types of Debates
Some of the different types of debates include:
- Spontaneous Argumentation (SPAR)
- Team Policy Debate
- Lincoln Douglas Debate
- Parliamentary Debate
- Public Forum Debate
How To Start A Debate Greeting
There are many ways to start a debate greeting and I will be giving some examples below. Now before I continue, we can all agree that this is the most popular;
“Good day, Mr Moderator, the panel of (impartial) judges, accurate timekeeper, my co-debaters, and the audience. I am here to propose/oppose the motion, which asserts that” (States motion).” with the following arguments of mine…”
This is very popular and has been used by almost every graduate of a Nigerian institution. If you are looking for something different, you can consider these;
Good day to you, the judges, my honourable competitors and audience members. My name is xyz, and I’ll be giving you a rundown of why I’ve concluded that “MOTION” is a subject I must address with “NO (If you are against it)/YES (If you are in support).”
To the distinguished members of the jury, the esteemed faculty, and my fellow competitors, I bid a hearty “good morning” (if it is morning). I want to bring to your attention today some of my thoughts in support of (if you are in favour of) or opposition to (if you are against) the motion (say your topic).
“Good afternoon, distinguished judges, participants of the opposing team, Chairlady, and audience members. I serve as the leader of the affirmative team. The subject of our motion for today is…”
“Good afternoon, esteemed judges, honourable opponents, faculty members, and audience members. I (NAME) would want to use this opportunity to sincerely offer my appreciation for your interest in the (SUBJECT ). I like to begin by stating that I am proclaiming my support [for/against] the motion, and if it is okay with you, I would like to declare that…’
There are many other ways through which you can start your debate and honestly, the judges would prefer you present something a bit unique.
While many debates would eventually have no winner, there is a satisfaction that comes with performing very well. What do you think?
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