A LECTURE NOTE ON TIPS OF DEBATES





  



INTRODUCTION

Point of view is what sharpens perspective. At one point or the other concepts or ideas are brought to the fore for a kind of consideration and people’s point of view is always sought for to know the best way out of the problem, or at best the best solution to address the question at hand. According to Simon Gray, the worst thing you can do to an important problem is discuss it. This is what debate is all centered on. To evaluate, analyze and criticize in other to know the right from the wrong, merit from demerits. This ability has been taught students in High School and Colleges in other to incorporate it in them. However, many students actually do not know the little tips for an easy debating carrier. This lecture will be discussing these little tips to enable students improve on their skills in debating.
MEANING OF DEBATE
Debate basically has to with the act of argument. According to the Encarta Encyclopedia Dictionary 2009, Debate means to talk about something at length and in details, especially as part of a formal exchange of opinion. It also means argument or prolonged discussion.

But unlike the market women argument which is without direction, debate is an act of arguing meaningful topics in questions. Debate can be in two ways; viz: one in which the debater debates on a point of view all by himself without a direct opposition. The other kind is when a debater debates on a topic against another person or a group of persons. There is the parliamentary debating which comes with expected oppositions or not, out-of parliament debating which can be by way of a written argumentative essay, Online single exposition, or standard opposition debate which is done in schools.
TOPIC IN QUESTION
Topic in question is the topic prepared for debating. The topic may be direct on a point of view or on two points of view. For instance: “Youth Restiveness in East Africa, who is to blame, the Government or the Community?” This kind of topic is on both sides because the two sides (Government or Community) to argue for or against are revealed on the topic. On the other hand: “Government is to be blamed for Youth restiveness in East Africa”, is one sided. In this case, the proposing side must definitely agree, while the opposing side must refuse or refute, giving reasons why they do. While disagreeing, they are allowed to speak in support of any imagined party of their choice.  A party in question or a fact as the case may be may be what is actually supported.
TYPES OF DEBATERS
Basically, there are two types of debaters. They are the Proposers and the Opposers. The proposers are the debaters that support or affirm a topic in question, while the Opposers are those who do not support the topic in question, especially when the topic in question is direct.
There is actually no laid down standard of how many speakers that is to make up a debate team.  We can have a single speaker-debater, two speakers-debate-team, three speakers-debate team otherwise known as the Karl Popper Format, etc.  A one speaker-debater is a speaker that argues alone either for or against another single-debater on the other side or two other debaters as the rule permits.  In the case of two debaters-team-format or even the Karl popper format, there is a lead speaker and a supporting speaker.
STAGES OF DEBATING
There is no laid down rule for the stages of debating. It all depends on the rules laid down by the organizers. But for academic purposes let us consider those below:
1)      Preliminary stage: This is a stage before the debating proper. In most high schools’ debate competitions, government establishments or private organizers sponsor debate competitions. In some cases, letters are sent out to selected schools that will prepare and appear for the competition. In other cases, schools are expected to apply to be given a direct invitation. When sent, it does not imply automatic qualification in so far as the selection does not match the exact number of schools expected for the competition. If twenty schools are expected to be present for the competition and up to fifty schools apply, the organizers have to screen the schools to cut the number of participants to match the expected numbers. The screening can be done by giving the schools essay topics to write on or other tests as the organizers deem fit to employ.
2)      Advocacy Stage: This is the stage whereby argument is done proper. Debaters at this stage argue their points out. Speakers are expected to be Objective as objectiveness helps in giving a speaker a good ground while arguing. However, that does not stop a speaker from being subjective. This is because a topic in question may demand a speaker to be subjective some times. But subjectiveness should only be employed when and only when it will helps a speaker canvass his point very well and only if he can defend it and make it while with a lot of sense.  The advocacy stage has two sub-stages.
a)      The Point Advancing Stage: This stage is when a speaker just argues his points out. At this point, the speaker may not be aware of the opponent’s points. So he just argues in anticipation of the opponents points. However, this is not always the case with the Opposers, because they speak after the proposers, which means that they must have heard the proposers speak before they speak. But they are not expected to dwell much on the points of the proposers when arguing because they may not have enough time to argue on their own points. The first speaker in most cases speaks first. Conventionally, the first speaker gets more time, but that does not mean that, that is the case all the time. The rules of the competition may permit otherwise, that is if there is no such restriction.
b)      The Countering Stage: At this stage, speakers of both sides must have finished speaking. The proposers will now be given another opportunity to counter the arguments of the opponents. This is usually done by the lead speaker, but there is no laid down rule for it as the supporting speaker may be permitted to do so if the rule permits, if the team is willing of course. The opposition does the same too to the proposers. Countering is similar to rebuttals and surrebutal in Mooting. This is different from the act of objecting, strict sensu during Mock trials, which is done at the time the parties are arguing. In the case of countering there is no interception. A special time is allocated for countering. The time for countering is in most cases short, so speakers are expected to be precise and articulate.
PARTICIPANTS IN A DEBATE COMPETITION
Debate competitions involve a whole lot of persons. They are:
1)      The Panel of judges: This is a group of judges that score the speakers on points raised. They are known as the Umpires in the debate competition. They ought to be persons skilled and knowledgeable in the topic in question. But in some cases in high school, they may be parents selected for the program. However, in organized competitions, that’s not the case.
2)      Debaters: This has been explained above. Debaters are known as the speakers in a debate competition. They are the advocates in the debate competition. Note that the word, Debater, is also used in place of a speaker.
3)      Time Keeper: A Time Keeper is the person that keeps the speakers alert about the time available to him or her.
4)      Moderator: This is the person who controls the debating process.
5)      Audience: These are the observers in the competition. They are in most case listening to get themselves entertained, learn facts or both.
BASIC SKILLS REQUIRED OF A DEBATER
1)      A debater must be good in research work. He must be studious.  By being good in research work, he or she will be able to be conversant with the topic and canvass his or her points adequately.
2)      A debater must be precise and on point, not beating around the bush when arguing. This helps in utilizing time and making his or her points clear.
3)      Eloquence is profitable in debating.
4)      A debater must have a good command of English. Law of concord must be obeyed at best as spoken English can permit in speeches.
5)      A Debater need not talk too fast and at the same time not too slow. Moderacy is the watch word. Being too fast might make the judges not get the speaker so well. Being slow leads to dullness and boredom.
6)      A debater must learn to avoid ‘hums”, or any kind of stammering.
7)      Gesticulation is good for a debater as it creates a stage performance of confidence.
8)      It is good for a debater to maintain eye contacts with the judges and opposite debaters when the need arises. This also shows confidence on the part of the debater.
9)      A debater must be able to think on his feet. This is because what is anticipated may not be what is produced by the opposing debaters during debate. Smart debaters are good at taking their opponents unaware.
10)  A debater must be good at listening. Paying good attention to every details and words from the opponents goes a long way in weakening one’s opponents.
11)  A debater should have a little sense of humour as it helps in catching the fancy of the judges. After all, debate though a serious business in not a fight.
12)  Radical speech void of insults or malice is good, but only when the need arises. Radical speech is good for the sake of emphasis confrontation in debating.
HOW TO DEBATE (SPEECH)
There is actually no generally accepted standard to make address in debating. However, conventionally, it goes thus: Good Day (Evening or morning as the case may be), Moderator, (honorable) Panel of judges, Honorable Time keepers, fellow debaters, the Audience and viewers at home (If it is televised). My name is XYZ, a student of GGG.
I am here opposing the motion that ‘Flies are better than bees’. As lead debater I will be spending 15 minutes out of the 40 minutes allocated to us. While the 15 minutes and 7 minutes will be used by the second and third speaker respectively, with 3 minutes left for the countering of points.
I will be opposing the motion with the following points of mine: One…….
Each point must be well argued with illustrations and examples where necessary. Valid citations and quotations are necessary and perfect for a good debating.
The debater should argue the first to the second point in chronological manner. Each point raised must be linked to the previous and to the next. This way it creates a flow of thoughts. The use of words like: ‘Furthermore’, ‘also’, ‘more so’ when new points are to be raised are allowed. Debaters are not expected to point fingers on their opponents when arguing as it shows a kind of disrespect.
At the end of the canvassing of points, a concluding statement is normally used. Many students are fond of using: “With this (few) points of mine, I am able to convince and not confuse my opponents that Bees are better than flies”. This conclusion is not wrong, only that it seems to sound archaic for over usage. Hence, students are expected to be creative. Also, the use of the adjectives, ‘Few’, gives some intelligent judges a room for criticism. Therefore it is better concluding without saying: “with this few points of mine”.
Subsequent speakers in a team in which a lead speaker has already made appearance statement may not necessary pass through the rigorous process of greeting everyone again. He or she can just continue by standing on the existing protocols, mention his or her name and start canvassing his or points the same way the lead debater must have done, that is only when the rules do not say otherwise.
At the stage of countering, debaters need not greet. He or she may just start by saying: “I remain my humble self, OPL, lead speaker of the proposing side. I am here for a second time to counter the wonderful points raised by my learned debater on the opposite side.” At this point, the counterer must state precisely the points he intends to counter one by one. It is best, he goes chronologically too. That is to say, he or she should counter, number one before two or three as the case may be, and not three before one. However, a debater may do otherwise if that is the only way to furnish a formidable countering. In countering, repetition is good only to the extent that it is for the emphasis sake. But such repetition must be limited. Debaters are advised to write down points to be countered when the opponents are speaking. However it is more advisable to rely on the bare-hand-memory as it helps a debater to think on his or her feet and result to an unexpected flow.


CONCLUSION
One side of the story is good to the ear is because the other side has not been heard. Debating is a good activity that helps strengthens world democracy, and it is only good that Students are exposed to it at good age, since it will go a long away in training youngsters in the act of advocacy.



 One side of the story is good to the ear is because the other side has not been heard.

                                                                                                                                               Ebi Robert

                               [Online Lecture on Simisa Ven Verdict of South Africa's request]

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