People Innovation Excellence
 

Developing the Skills in Debating

Written by Frendy

 

Debate is the act of convincing individuals with arguments, in which they attempt to prove that their statements are desirable while other parties can state otherwise. Debating often occurs in the society in various circumstances, either formal or informal; in competitions or within discussions among friends. Most people would like their opinions to be accepted, as they believe that they are correct, hence, they debate. However, there are times when people are unable to present their arguments effectively, resulting in their opinions not being considered the way they want it to. In order to deliver arguments more effectively and more convincingly, there are four basic steps that are advised to be followed.

Firstly, determine the type of the topic currently being discussed. According to the University of Monash in 2012 through Guide to Debating-Monash Association of Debaters, there are two main categories of an argument, which are principle and practical. Principle arguments are arguments that mainly discuss about human rights and the inherent values of certain actions, while practical arguments are mostly about tangible harms and benefits. A number of arguments and topics rely heavily on the principle values, such as the implementation of the voting system, where the values of democracy might be the central arguments, but there are topics that should be discussed in a practical level, such as the legalization of drugs. Arguing about human rights in a discussion concerning drugs is ineffective if it is not proven that drugs can thoroughly harm the society, because beneficial policies should be legalized. Hence, differentiating on whether a topic is a principle topic or practical topic is crucial in convincing the other parties.

Secondly, it is essential to provide reliable examples that are able to support the presented arguments. An argument without any examples is significantly weaker compared to the ones with strong evidences. Dr. B. Lee Hobbs stated in one of his articles during 2008 that examples make a stronger case. Meaning, people tend to believe arguments with strong evidences. Without examples, people may question the legitimacy of the arguments as they might be unable to envision what the arguments are about. For example, when an individual solely explains that Obama tend to pass good policies without necessarily explaining what the good policies are, people might question if Obama really does so. Examples provide a solid and tangible statement that the arguments are indeed factual, and facts are able to convince individuals as those are truths which are undeniable.

Thirdly, include a conclusion to each argument. A number of arguments can sometimes be elaborative which leads to explicit, detailed explanations; such arguments carry the potential to impose confusion upon the other parties. Based on an article published by Gallaudet University, not including conclusions may devalue the entire argument. At times, especially in the case of lengthy arguments, a number of individuals require information that is able to link the entirety of the speech together for them to be able to comprehend the statement. Otherwise, they might have difficulties in understanding the respective arguments. For instance, when a person gives a speech concerning the negative impacts of drugs for the society in general and he explains about why is addiction harmful, however, there is no conclusion regarding the issue, the audience may wonder the correlation between drugs being addictive with harming the society, and this is able to potentially lessen the amount of people convinced. Conclusions provide an overview of the arguments and there are those who need to be reminded of the previous points within the specific arguments in order for them to be able to fathom the entire arguments; this is important due to the reason that people are not considered to be convinced when they do not understand the statements.

Lastly, rebut the core idea of the opponent rather than the insignificant details. Rebuttals are one of the most important features in debating; it is when individuals are able to deny the accountability of the opinions coming from the other parties, stating that their arguments are incorrect. In order to win a debate, effective rebuttals are necessary; to do so, prioritize in rebutting the most important points of the opponent, which is the most talked about issue during the debate, because they are the strongest cases of the opponent. During the scenario in which the opponent spends five minutes explaining that the United States should lift the embargo of Cuba because it is within the interest of the United States and two minutes in elaborating about the sufferings of Cuba’s society, it is advised to focus in rebutting the first argument as it is the primary case of the opponent. From the perception of Chris Cillizza, a writer for The Washington Post during 2012, President Obama won the 2012 presidential debate against Mitt Romney due to Obama’s success in rebutting Romney’s primary argument concerning foreign policies while Romney did not respond to Obama’s main case concerning Libya; that implies that effective rebuttals are indeed essential, to the extent in determining the winning point.

In conclusion, in order to deliver an effective and convincing argument during a debate, it is important to be able to categorize the type of the topic and provide reliable evidences to support the arguments to convince other parties better, as well as to include conclusions to ensure that the arguments are able to be comprehended better as understandings are crucial in convincing individuals. In the case of responding to the opponent’s arguments, rebut their primary cases and prioritize the arguments that they spent the most time on. The success in abiding by those steps are able to, at the very least, enhance one’s debating capability, either during formal or informal occasions.


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