Debates are a great way to encourage dialogues between members of an audience and your chosen speakers and can be used to discuss a wide range of topics covering areas that are of ethical, political and social relevance.
Designated speakers are split up into two teams and usually have to argue for or against a specific argument. Each speaker is given a specific amount of time to make their case, with the speaker who is fore the argument usually going first, followed by the speaker that is against the proposal.
Following this, each side is given an opportunity to make a rebuttal, to argue a point made by the opposition ( and try and prove that point wrong).
Depending on the format of your debate, this process can then be repeated with additional speakers for each side, with the last speaker given time to sum up the key points of their arguement.
The moderator of the debate should be skilled at summarising the key points and focusing the discussion. They also need to be strict time keepers.
Often a debate is presented as a competition, where one side argues their case, and the other side has to present the opposite argument. At these sorts of events, there is often a way of deciding a winner, this can be done in a number of ways, such as with an audience vote, or by a panel of judges.
Debates can also be used as a teaching tool, where you give your students a set amount of research time, and then they have to present their findings as an arguement against someone else.
- Adult citizens
You can do it with all those groups, but we did it with professionals from different fields like public engagement or the cultural and creative sector.
Debates strengthen critical thinking skills as well as communication skills. Depending on the format and the topic being discussed, a debate can be interesting, entertaining and educational.
- Decide on a topic and a question to debate.
- Recruit speakers and a suitable moderator
- Find a venue
- Consider if microphones or other audio-visual equipment is required.
- Decide if there are win conditions for your debate, and if you are awarding a prize.
- Promote your debate