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British parliamentary debates

British parliamentary debate. British Parliamentary Debate is a debate done on the spot. This article will cover how to debate in this style and provide some useful tips.







British parliamentary debate

  1. 1. British Parliamentary Debate
  2. 2. British Parliamentary Debate: slides 3-9 Preparing for the Debate Speech: slides 10-15 The Art of Persuasion: slides 16-25 How to Rebut: slides 26-28 How to Perform Well in a Debate: slides 29-34 Useful Debate Vocabulary: slides 36
  3. 3. There are generally 2 sides. The topics are random and the sides are called "government" and "opposition". Government is supporting the topic given and opposition is opposing it. The topic will always request government to argue for a change (argue to change something that currently exists), while opposition will argue against the change. There are TWO teams for government, and there are TWO teams for opposition. Points of information can be given to the opposing side when they are speaking. This is in the form of a question, and cannot last more than 15 seconds. For every debate, the first and last minute are protected time, where you cannot make any Points of Information. Understand how debates work. You will be given a debate topic – this is called a “resolution." Your team must take a stance either affirmative or negative to the resolution. Sometimes you will be given the stance, and sometimes you will be asked to take a position. You may be asked to be the first speaker pro the resolution or the first con speaker. Often such speeches are about four minutes long each. The speakers then present arguments against the earlier pro or con speech that was just read. Speakers must listen carefully and be able to counter arguments. There are often segments involving crossfire, in which the debaters are allowed to ask questions and openly debate the topic. Sometimes there is a second pro and second con speech to summarize the points made and end the debate round.
  4. 4. One person on side government, called the Prime Minister, speaks first. S/he must define every important term in the topic. S/he must define them carefully, because should s/he introduce fail to do so, side opposition may define those terms in any way that best suits it. Next, the Prime Minister will introduce any contentions (points you wish to use to prove your case) s/he wishes to do. It is imperative that the Prime Minister sets a clear and narrow resolution so that the debate is focused and no too broad. The time limit is generally 5 minutes. One person on side opposition, called the Leader of the Opposition, speaks next. S/he must refute (prove incorrect) every contention the Prime Minister just made and introduce any contentions s/he wishes to do so. The time limit is generally 5 minutes. First the opening sides debate. There will be two opening teams - the Opening Government and the Opening Opposition.
  5. 5. One person on side government, called the Deputy Prime Minister, speaks next. S/he must refute every contention the Member of the Opposition just introduced, rebuild (re- prove) the Prime Minister's contentions and introduce any additional contentions s/he wishes to introduce. The time limit is generally 5 minutes. One person on side opposition, called the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, speaks next. S/he must refute every contention of side government, rebuild all of side opposition's contentions and introduce any additional contentions s/he wishes to add. Sometimes, it may be against the rules to introduce new contentions in this speech in the last [enter amount here] minutes of the speech. It is also, generally, a good idea to summarize all the points of the opening opposition (the Leader of Opposition and his own points) in this speech, as the Leader of the Opposition is the last person of his side to speak. The time limit is generally 8 minutes.
  6. 6. The closing sides now debate. The Member of Government now speaks. S/he must present an extension to the debate that was done by the opening sides. That is to say, S/he must open a new side about the issue. This is 5 minutes. The Member of Opposition now speaks. S/he was to refute the points of the Member of Government, as well as bring in another extension. This is 5 minutes.
  7. 7. The Secretary of the Government (The Government Whip) speaks. S/he is to refute the points of the Member of Opposition. Then, s/he has to sum up the debate and crystallize it to some main points. This speaker may not bring in ANY new points/extensions/case studies. This is 5 minutes. The Secretary of the Opposition (The Opposition Whip) is the last speaker in the debate. S/he will refute, but may not introduce new contentions. Lastly, s/he should summarize all the contentions made by his/her side and possibly provide mention what the debate was mainly about. S/he was to do the same thing as the Government Whip. This is 5 minutes.
  8. 8. Tips • Write down the points the opposing side says. You want to refute every point they make. If they make a point that you cannot refute, the judge will assume that you are unable to, and therefore, it is a valid point. • Make it clear when you move on to a new point. If you don't, the judge will be confused, thinking you are supporting the last point when you aren't. You may say, "Well that's his/her problem", but it's not. The judge doesn't have to let you win the case. If you make no sense at all, the judge is obviously not going to let you win - just like if you watched an advertisement in a language you didn't speak, would you buy the product? • Make it easy for the judge to follow your points. You can always tell the judge what you are going to do before you do it (i.e. I am going to do this. Then I am going to do this. Then I am going to do this.). That way, the judge will know to make some room on his/her paper to take notes on your arguments. • If you are side opposition and side government uses very bad definitions, you are allowed you challenge their definition by standing up in the middle of the speech and telling the judge their definitions are unfair. However, should the judge disagree with you, your chances of winning the debate could become very low. A failed challenge can cause your side to lose a lot of points
  9. 9. Tips • Come up with a strategy. There is strategy in debate as well! For example, one strategy could be to make a ton of contentions to overwhelm your opponents. If you know that a few of them make it through unnoticed by your opponents, the judge will have to consider those contentions as valid points. Just know the possible negative consequences of a strategy as well. • Restate your contentions. Not all judges can efficiently write down every point you make. Sometimes, if you have extra time left, it's good to go back and restate your points. In addition, you should add additional reasoning that support your contentions. • Watch the judge or whoever decides the outcome of your debate. Don't look at your opponents. Convincing your opponents won't win you the debate - only convincing the judge matters, so why even bother looking at your opponents? Keep eye contact with the judge. • Some people say talking for a long time about a point is bad. However, it is actually good. Have you ever seen an advertisement? Would you really care if there was a 2 second long advertisement telling you to buy a product? However, would you listen if it was for 20 seconds? The more you talk about it, the more the judge hears your points. The more the judge hears your points, the more likely the judge will consider them. • Even when refuting the opposing side's points, make sure that the refutation is directed towards the Speaker of the House (or the judge).
  10. 10. Preparing for the Debate Speech
  11. 11. Research the topic very thoroughly with credible information. • Because you will be asked to counter the arguments of the other side, in addition to giving a speech of your own, you must spend time thoroughly understanding all aspects of the resolution. • Brainstorm the topic, and research it before you sit down to write. Write out a pro and con list. If you are on a debate team, do this together. • Each member could discuss the pro and con lists, and then strike the weaker reasons until you are left with three or four reasons that seem strongest in support or opposition.
  12. 12. Spend some time at the library or on the Internet using credible sources to research the key reasons that seem strongest. Use books, scholarly journals, credible newspapers, and the like. Be very cautious about unverified information bandied about on the Internet. You will also want to deal with the strongest arguments on the other side in your speech. Ignoring the other side’s best arguments can weaken your rhetorical appeal.
  13. 13. Keep your sentences short and to the point. Only make one point or argument in each sentence. You want the reader to be able to build the argument logically, but this is impossible if they get lost in the weeds. • A basic debate outline should contain four parts: An introduction, your thesis argument, your key points to back your stance up, and a conclusion. Be prepared to define any key words for the judges. • You can break each of those four part into subcategories. It’s often a good idea to write the introduction and conclusion last, focusing on the thesis argument and the evidence to back it up first.
  14. 14. • Back every single one of your key points up with examples, statistics and other pieces of evidence. • Focus on the causes of the problem, the effects of the problem, examples, statistics, and present a solution. • Try to use visual images – show don’t tell, and illustrate a point with details. • Appeal to the motives and emotions of the listener. • Appeal to their sense of fair play, desire to save, to be helpful, to care about community, etc. Develop your key points
  15. 15. Strike a balance between presenting your team's point(s) and rebutting the opponent's point. Since teams take turns debating, it's always possible to offer rebuttals unless you are the first affirmative speaker.
  16. 16. Ancient philosophers studied the art of persuasion, and understanding their techniques will help your debate speech. The Art of Persuasion
  17. 17. • Repetition: Keep hammering on your thesis. Tell them what you're telling them, tell them it, then tell them what you told them. They'll get the point by the end. • Quotations reinforce that you aren't the only one making this point. It tells people that, socially, if they want to fit in, they need to consider your viewpoint. • Agitation of the Problem: Before offering solutions, show them how bad things are. Give them a reason to care about your argument. Use a variety of persuasion techniques
  18. 18. What’s persuasive to one person may not be persuasive to another. For this reason, it’s crucial to consider to whom you are targeting your speech. For example, if you are arguing against unhealthy school lunches, you might take very different approaches depending on whom you want to convince. You might target the school administrators, in which case you could make a case about student productivity and healthy food. If you targeted students’ parents, you might make a case about their children’s health and the potential costs of healthcare to treat conditions caused by unhealthy food. And if you were to consider a “grassroots” movement among your fellow students, you’d probably make appeals based on personal preferences. Consider your audience
  19. 19. Do as much preparation as you can before you write your essay. This means you need to examine why you have your opinion and what evidence you find most compelling. Here’s also where you look for counterarguments that could refute your point. A mind map could be helpful. Start with your central topic and draw a box around it. Then, arrange other ideas you think of in smaller bubbles around it. Connect the bubbles to reveal patterns and identify how ideas relate. Don’t worry about having fully fleshed-out ideas at this stage. Generating ideas is the most important step here. Brainstorm your evidence
  20. 20. Arguments based on emotions, sometimes referred to as “pathos” in the study of arguing, use appeals to people’s heart and emotions. They are also good for topics that are “human” in nature, like arguments about social justice, discrimination, etc. Try to draw on people’s hopes and fears. Use personal stories and try to make a personal connection with either your opponent or your audience by comparing the situation to something that is close to them. Use arguments based on emotions
  21. 21. Ask a rhetorical question When rhetorical questions are crafted and delivered well, they can persuade an audience to side with your position. You want the audience to answer the question for themselves silently, while directing attention to your topic. Ask a question that convinces your audience that you are similar to them and that your share their beliefs. You can ask, for example, “Would you like to see a loved one suffer for no reason at all?”
  22. 22. Your statistic should be directly related to your argument's main purpose. The impact of the statistic can persuade your audience to side with your way of addressing the issue at hand. You can say, for example, “A billion tons of plastic are floating in the ocean right now. That is enough plastic to make an island the size of Hawaii.” Then, proceed to talk about the issue and explain to your audience why your resolution is the best one. State a shocking statistic
  23. 23. Using quotes in a speech reinforces and adds credibility to your ideas. Quotes also demonstrate that your are knowledgable about the topic. Your quote should be related to the topic, and relevant to the audience. Also, try to quote well-known people, or people your audience knows. For example, imagine you are giving a speech on why you think higher education is unnecessary for succeeding in life. You could open with, “Mark Twain once said, ‘Don’t let school interfere with your education.’” Use a powerful quote
  24. 24. Plug holes in your speech before they are exploited. If you can see an opportunity where your opponent will attempt to rebut, they will see it too. For example, if you are advocating Car A over Car B, and you say Car A is more expensive, make sure you add a disclaimer, such as "Even though Car A costs more, the superior quality is well worth the cost". This way, your opponents may not even try to rebut that point at all, and if they do, you've set the basis for an easy rebuttal.
  25. 25. Logic. Logic is just reasoning. For example, if Car A was more expensive than Car B, you could argue, "Car B is better than Car A because it is cheaper and it is only logical that a family with a limited budget would purchase Car B instead of Car A. Analogy. Analogy is a comparison. For example, if Car A was more high quality than Car B, you could argue, "Car A is better than Car B simply because it is of better quality. You could compare this situation to somebody shopping for fruits. Car A is like the perfect, red apple at the top of the pile of apples and Car B is like the rotting fruit that's been sitting at the bottom of the pile for weeks. Any reasonable shopper would purchase the fresh, perfect apple instead of the rotting fruit that should be thrown out. Similar to the apples, few people would purchase a poorly-made car that might break down any moment on the highway.
  26. 26. How to Rebut
  27. 27. Rebut the main points of your opponents' argument. When rebutting a team's argument, remember: • Offer evidence for your rebuttal. Show the chairperson why the other team's argument is fundamentally fault; don't just tell. • Attack the most important parts of their argument. • Don’t criticize another person instead of their ideas. Attack the idea, not the person. Find something that's wrong with their argument. Do they contradict themselves? If needed, write down a note to yourself if you're not sure about a possible rebut, then have a quiet team huddle about it just after they have finished their speech. Write down anything and everything that you could use. Prepare a rebuttal palm card. A useful format is to write which speaker you're rebutting (1, 2, 3 or 'all' if it applies), a paraphrased form of what they said, and a dot point that you will use to rebut. Order your palm cards by speaker, and then by importance.
  28. 28. Get into the mindset of your opponents. Sometimes it can be useful to pretend you have been allocated to the other side of the debate, and try to get into the opponents' minds. Write down as many of these rebuttals as possible, and how you plan to counter them. If you can walk into a debate with a few semi- prepared rebuttals, it makes your job so much easier. Know your opponent's case! The first speaker of the opposing team will outline the arguments their entire team will make. Write these down quickly, then pay keen attention to the rest of their speech. You must take in as much information from them as is possible.
  29. 29. How to Perform Well in a Debate
  30. 30. Relax, and pretend you're elsewhere. When you rebut, you shouldn't be talking to an audience or the adjudicator. Rather, you should be having a conversation with an argumentative friend, or better yet, a teacher. Be polite, and be formal, but above all, relax. This will make it a lot easier to... Be confident. In a debate, nothing is worse than a person who clearly thinks the other team is smarter, better or winning. You're winning, and you just proved it with your rebuttal. Be proud of what you have achieved.
  31. 31. Know what aspects of the debate you will be judged on. For the most part, debates are judged on three main areas: matter, manner, and method. Matter is amount and relevancy of evidence. How much evidence does the speaker use to support his/her claims? How strongly does the evidence used support the argument? Manner is eye contact and engagement with audience. Don't stare at your cue cards! Speak clearly. Accentuate your arguments with volume, pitch and speed to highlight important parts? Use your body to emphasize your arguments: stand straight and gesture confidently. Avoid stammering, fidgeting, or pacing. Method is team cohesion. How well does the entire team organize their arguments and rebuttals? How well do the individual arguments mesh together, as well as the rebuttals? How clear and consistent is the team line?
  32. 32. Present your argument with feeling. Be passionate in your speech—a monotone voice will cause people to drift off, and they may miss the point of what you're trying to say. Speak clearly, slowly, and loudly. Make eye contact with whomever decides the winners of the debate. While it's okay to look at your opponents every once in a while, try to direct your argument at the judge. Give a layout of your argument before you make it. That way, your audience will know what to expect and your judge won't cut you off unless you run way overtime.
  33. 33. Make eye contact with audience members. Try to make eye contact with individual persons in the audience. By making eye contact, you can gauge their reactions by reading their facial expressions. Also, you will be able to connect with audience members on a more personal level, and thus, make your argument more persuasive.Remember to maintain eye contact with an audience at the end of a sentence. Hold eye contact with an individual for only three to five seconds, then move on to someone else.
  34. 34. Use up all your time (or most of it). The more you talk, the more you'll convince the judge. Note that this means you should come up with many examples, not that you should ramble. The more the judge hears about why you are correct, the more inclined s/he will be to believe you.
  35. 35. Just Win!
  36. 36. Useful Debate Vocabulary I’m listening to the other side. I see your point, but I think Yes, I understand, but my opinion is that That’s all very interesting, but the problem is that I’m afraid I can’t quite agree with your point. I think I’ve got your point, now let me respond to it. We can see what you’re saying. Here’s my reply I need to say something now. I’m sorry to interrupt, but you’ve misunderstood our point. Excuse me, but that’s not quite correct. Sorry, I just have to disagree with your point. Let me just respond to that, please. Forgive me for interrupting, but I must respond to that. Hold on a moment, that’s not correct. If you would allow me to add a comment here... You haven’t replied yet. The other side will have to explain why.... otherwise we win that point. We said that but the other side has not replied to our point. I’d like to focus on two points that the other side has failed to address. There are two points that we have succeeded in establishing. I want to call your attention to an important point that our opponents have not addressed yet. I’d like to point out that there are two issues our opponents have failed to dispute, namely… I must stress again that our point has not been refuted by the other side. Our opponents have still not addressed the question we raised a moment ago So finally, we Let’s sum up where we stand in this debate. Let me summarize our position in this debate. In summary, we want to point out that The first point we raised is this Our position is the following Let’s see which arguments are still standing. Let’s take stock of where we are in this debate. I’d like to deal with two points here. The first is Let me just restate my position. Just to be clear, here is what I mean We pointed out that To recap the main points Our opponents have claimed that The other side has failed to answer our point about Notice that the opponents have not addressed our main point. To sum up, here are the main points our opponents have not addressed.
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