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Home > Resources > Skill sets – Organisation and Prioritisation

Skill sets – Organisation and Prioritisation

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


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.


  1. 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.
  2. List the headlines at the beginning and end of the speech to introduce the arguments.
  3. Arguments should be ‘signposted’ throughout the speech, so that it is clear where one point ends and the next begins.
A group of pupils smiling for a photo with one of them holding a fanta can

Activity - the condensing machine

Learning Objectives: An effective way for students to practice their listening skills, as well as to teach them to identify key information in a speech and to distinguish between central points and examples or rhetorical devices

Average time: 5 minutes

Use with: All age groups; debating and public speaking

Activity Plan:

Ask a member of the group to speak for 1 minute on a topic. Ask a second student to speak for 30 seconds, summarising what the previous speaker said. Then ask a third student to summarise the previous speech in 10 seconds. Make sure students do not add different and new ideas in each speech, but rather focus on the main points of the previous speaker.

Download the full resource at the top of the page.

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