Thursday, 2 September 2010

Notes on Debating - Rovers

Basic Set up

Chairman, Chair, Moderator, Speaker


Proposers, Government

Opposition, Opposers
Right of the chair –
those for the motion:

Proposers, Government

They speak first
(and traditionally also last)

Proposers define what the motion means
Left of the chair –
those against the motion:

Opposition, Opposers

They speak alternately with proposers

(But always check the local set up and rules, inc. timings)

A motion is always a positive statement… this house is / will / would / likes / wants / believes / can…

E.g. this house would fight for King & Country; believes in God; wants cannabis legalised; values higher education.



Discussion and Challenge (again always check the local set up, customs and rules)

  1. Usually only address (talk to or through) the chair – never directly to another speaker
  2. Point of information – providing information to or challenging the person speaking e.g. Madam Moderator, is the lady aware of the survey in today’s Times…; Mr Speaker, I have already explained this point… Can also be used humorously e.g. Mr Chairman, I cannot believe that the gentleman is over 21!
  3. Point of order – providing information to or asking for guidance or intervention from the chair e.g. Mr Speaker, can I remind you that we need to leave the hall by 10pm? Madam Chairman, it is surely not acceptable for the gentleman to use that kind of language here! Can also be used humorously but with care, not always appreciated e.g. Mr Chairman, Surely the lady is too young to have that drink brought to her!


Team work
  1. If you’re debating competitively, check the rules for what you are (each) meant to do and what the judges mark you by. Generally the expectation will be as 2 – 5 below:
  2. The first speaker for the motion is expected to ‘define’ it – to say how it is being interpreted, what it means.
  3. All speakers are expected to be able to refer to previous arguments already used on both sides and it helps to refer to what your team mates will say later (‘My colleague Jenny will develop this…’)
  4. All speakers are expected to take and deal with some points of information, and to give points of information.
  5. The final speaker is expected to summarise the arguments. It can pay to have your most confident speaker in this position.
  6. There is great value in joint preparation and anticipation of the other side’s arguments.
  7. Consider your team’s appearance – all jackets / all shirts / all jumpers?
  8. Don’t get waylaid by complex points of information – practise cutting someone off / dismissing the point.
  9. It’s meant to be fun for participants and audience – enjoy it, laugh at it.

Ruth Maltman DC FITC

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