A debate is an organised event where the participants present their arguments or discuss a topic from two different perspectives. The main objective of participating in a debate is to convince others about one’s viewpoint. The debate ends when both the participants agree on the same subject or when the arguments of any one of the participants are considered stronger than the other participant.
If you want to become good at debating, you should improve your communication and interpersonal skills.
Formal Debates require many technical skills, quick thinking, and effective communication. As long as students have a positive attitude, they can easily present their arguments to the audience and judges. To become a strong debater, debaters must concentrate on developing their arguments based on ethics, rationality, and emotions.
To win the debate competition, debaters should present their points of argument in a sequence and refute the arguments of the opposition party very smartly without getting nervous.
Top 10 Tips to win a debate competition
Students are advised to follow some tips if they are interested in winning the debate competition. Some tips have been given below for the benefit of the students.
1. Do not panic after receiving the topic- If you want to become a good debater, you should not indulge yourself in over-worrying.
People who become anxious or tense after getting the debate topic cannot think properly. Anxiety affects their thinking competencies and makes them lose confidence and willpower. Over-worrying makes their voice shaky which in turn affects their body language. Therefore debaters should act bravely and control their fear. Debaters are advised to engage themselves in recreational activities like yoga and meditation to combat their impulsive nature and improve their level of concentration.
2. Try to keep calm and maintain your body language- Debaters should keep calm if they are not comfortable with the topic assigned to them and even if their opponents’ points of argument offend them. This kind of positive approach will help them handle the situation wisely and tactfully rebut their opponents. However, if the debaters feel that their opponents are stronger and their points are more logical, they should not start shouting and raising their voices. If the debaters raise their voices or use offensive words, they will be disqualified.
The debaters should ensure that they maintain proper eye contact with the audience. Looking at a particular audience section may portray that the debater is biassed. In this case, the rest of the audience may feel ignored and unwanted. The debater should also not fidget with their hands during the debate as it may distract the audience.
3. Be confident enough to present the arguments- To win the debate competition, debaters should be confident themselves. Even if they are not confident, they should not try to portray that in front of the audience or judges during the debate competition. Confidence is not built overnight. Debaters should read newspapers and articles to increase their stock of words to develop confidence. Half of the battle can be won successfully if the debaters are confident enough about the points they will be presenting in front of the judges. The debaters should think twice or thrice before refuting the arguments of their opponents or cross-questioning them.
4. Do not use complicated technical language- Debaters should keep in mind that various audience types are present in the room or auditorium and are not technically qualified. A good speaker should present the arguments so that the audience can follow them. If the speaker uses too many technical words, then the audience and the judges will not understand the essence of the sentence, and it will be difficult for the judges to make a fair judgement. Thus, avoiding using technical words can be considered a tip for winning the debate.
5. Try to understand the topic first- Debaters can get the topic on the spot or before the day of the debate competition. In both cases, debaters must comprehend the topic well before starting the debate. If the student receives the topic a day before the competition, then the student should conduct sufficient research before presenting the arguments to the judges and audiences. On the other hand, if the students are given the topic a few minutes before the competition, they should stay calm and utilise their thinking competencies properly.
6. Understand the nature of the opposition party- Success depends on the ability of the debaters to understand the nature of the opposition party. Understanding the nature of the opposition party will enable the debaters to predict what their opponents will say or present in front of the audience. Debaters need to have a soft skill experience for this purpose; otherwise, they will not be able to analyse the nature of their opponents.
7. Speak clearly so that the audience can understand the points- The debater should not start mumbling or hesitate in any circumstances as it is considered the biggest turn off in any debate. Debaters are recommended to be very clear about their points of argument on a specific topic. They should not use expressions like ‘aha’, ‘umn’ and ‘hmmm’. Debaters are expected to behave formally in front of the audience and judges present in the auditorium. Moreover, if the language of the debate is English, debaters should communicate in English and not use words that belong to other languages like Bengali and Hindi.
8. Stay on track- Debaters should not deviate from the actual topic. Suppose a debater is speaking for the topic; the debaters may deviate from their points of argument and start speaking against the motion. Both parties may deviate from their original ideas and end up communicating about something that is not related to the topic. In this case, the debaters will be disqualified. Debaters can win the competition only if they stick to the topic. If the debaters are to speak in favour of the motion, they should follow the rule and restrict themselves to speaking in favour of the topic and vice versa.
9. Carefully listen to the points of arguments of the opponents and note them- Debaters should be very attentive when their opponents are speaking. Being attentive will help them identify fallacies in their opponent’s arguments and raise counterquestions. The counter questions should be raised so that the audience will also understand and be able to follow the sequence of the debate. Being able to raise counter arguments will boost the confidence of the debaters and increase their chances of winning the competition.
10. Controlling personal emotions- The debaters can narrate stories to explain their points, but they should not narrate anything personal or informal. Topics like feminism and social justice may accidentally induce the speaker to say something personal. A good debater should avoid such carelessness and behave professionally in front of the audience. Even if the topic is emotional, the debater should not get carried away by narrating personal experiences.
1. What are the suggestions given to the students to win a debate competition?
Debaters are advised to carefully analyse the topic assigned to them before starting the debate. Debaters should not become anxious or puzzled immediately after seeing the topic. Instead of giving up, they should remain calm and utilise their thinking skills to present their argument points. A brief statement is advised to be stated at the beginning of the debate to briefly explain whether the debater is speaking in favour of the motion or against the motion. The statement will clearly explain why the debater has chosen to speak in favour of the topic or against the topic. The debater should be attentive while the opponent party presents their points of argument. Being attentive will help the debater to spot the fallacies in the opponent’s arguments and bring them in front of the audience.
2. What qualities should a person possess to become a good debater?
The golden rule of debating is staying calm even if the topic is not easy to speak about. It can be possible that the topic is a bit difficult for the debater to understand at first. In that case, the debater should not become anxious and start shouting. The debater should be focused and steady and should not use any unfair strategy to win over opponents. A person should be a good listener and always have an outline ready to become a good debater. During the debate, it is expected that the debater will respond well to the counter questions of the opponent party. The debater should not be provoked to use offensive language or aggressive words during the debate as it would hamper their professional image.
3. What are the features of a good debater?
A good debater is confident enough to present the points of arguments no matter how strong the opposition party is. A professional debater has acquired confidence through practice and reading skills. Confidence enables them to utilise their skills and become more efficient. A great debater knows how to control gestures and body movements during the debate. A good debater possesses leadership skills like acquiring the attention of the public and the ability to persuade, which are considered essential for winning the debate competition. Moreover, a good debater never raises their voice too much or speaks to portray them as unconfident. They know how to maintain a balance between the two tones.
4. What are the rules that the parties should follow while debating?
During the debate, both parties should remain calm and avoid saying offensive words even if the situation becomes heated. The party assigned to speak in favour of the motion should stick to that motion, whereas the other party should argue against the motion. The affirmative speaker who speaks in favour of the topic has to begin the debate first as per the rules of the debate. The parties are not allowed to change their motions during the debate as it may lead to confusion and chaos. Both parties should ensure that they are not deviating completely from the topic. If the judge feels that any of the parties have deviated from the actual topic, then the judge can utilise the power to disqualify the participant.
5. What are the basic debating skills needed to win a debate competition?
Style, Speed, Tone and volume are skills that a debater should possess to win a debate competition. Style is how the debaters present their points of argument. Good Style is considered the basic strategy to win a debate competition. Some debaters present their arguments by giving real-life examples, while others highlight the theoretical aspects. The debaters should neither speak very fast nor speak too slow. The debaters should follow a moderate level of speed to highlight their points. The debaters should not be very sensitive to the audience’s reactions; otherwise, the debaters may get distracted. The debaters should speak in a tone that is not aggressive. Their tone should be rather logical and calm.
The debaters should be well-versed with the topic they are speaking about. The debaters should be prepared for situations like communicating in a language other than their mother tongue and counter questions from opponents. Many students perceive that since they are not inborn debaters, they cannot become good debaters in the future. Some important tips have been listed in the above section to help students become good debaters. Students should follow the tips sincerely to become good debaters. Winning a debate competition depends on how effectively the students implement the tips.