Debates require quick thinking and the clear articulation of ideas. The organisation and prioritisation skill set reflects students’ ability to convey their ideas clearly and effectively.
A persuasive speaker:
- Presents their reasons in a clear, well-structured manner. Their arguments are easy to follow, and ideas may be grouped by theme
- Gives priority to the main arguments, and spends less time on those that are not as important
- Has a structure which is clearly communicated to the audience, where necessary including an introduction and conclusion
MAKING ARGUMENTS: FIRST STEPS
When students begin debating, the first step will be to encourage them to express themselves clearly. Often, students will begin by delivering a ‘stream of consciousness’ speech, which is chaotic and hard to follow. They need to be encouraged to separate their thoughts into distinct ideas, and to label these clearly. Headlining is central to this process.
- Each argument needs a clear headline. If someone reads this in isolation, they should still understand what the debater wants to do in their speech.
- List the headlines at the beginning and end of the speech to introduce the arguments.
- Arguments should be ‘signposted’ throughout the speech, so that it is clear where one point ends and the next begins.