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how to start a debateLearning to debate effectively is something that everyone should learn. Although it may seem like something only a politician would need to know, you are actually using debating skills, in many everyday situations. Anytime you are discussing a topic with someone that revolves around your beliefs, you are debating. Being able to attack or defend a position effectively, is something of an art, and needs to be honed. Practicing debating will help your mind to think quickly, and accurately. This can be a big boost to your career as it will show off your leadership skills. Here are some essential tips on how to start a debate with clear logical reasoning and how prepare for it.

Why Should You Learn How to Debate?

Debate is an art form used throughout the ages. It is used in the legal and political world as a means of career advancement. You have probably seen televised Presidential nominee and candidate debates. Watching them does help you decide which party matches your viewpoints the most.

On the other hand, debate is beneficial regardless of your career path. It helps you to persuade people to either accept or reject your chosen perspective. Not to mention, it helps with your public speaking, research and analytical skills. Each time your opponent comes with a counter-argument, you have to determine how to positively overcome their objections without coming across as defensive or rattled.

Studying debate also helps you when it comes to thinking quickly and accurately. Once you have these traits, you start to feel more self-reliant and confident. Those are leadership skills that can garner success in any career.

Furthermore, it is just plain fun. You learn to understand different points of view, and if you win, then you realize just how persuasive you can be.

Do Your Initial Research

When you are planning on entering into a debate, you need to take time to prepare. Extensive research is absolutely crucial.You are looking for facts that will support your view. It is important that you focus on reputable documents. These include respected periodicals, books by well known authors, and facts from official websites such as .org and .edu.

In particular, look for facts that are less well known, as this will promote interest in your side of the debate. It can also put the other side off guard, when they are confronted with a fact they did not know. It is essential that you double check, and cross reference key details you are intending to use. Nothing undermines an argument more than presenting incorrect information. Do the same with data for your opponent’s argument.

Prepare Both Arguments

Before the debate, you need to prepare both your argument, and your opponents. Take all your research notes and divide facts that support your argument, and those on the opposite side, into two columns. Now, you need to plan the flow of your side of the discussion. Your position should have a start that presents your key belief, the main point supported by relevant facts, and a conclusion summarizing why your belief is correct. Order your facts so that they flow with your argument. You do not need to use all of the facts that you have found. You are looking for strong, irrefutable facts to support your initial presentation. Most importantly, you need to create persuasive notes.

Organize Rebuttal Materials

Now that you have prepared both sides of the topic, you need to equip yourself for the debate itself. You should have a significant amount of research left over; that is not in your preliminary argument. You also have a good idea of the main points of your opponent’s arguments. Group your remaining research points into ones that support areas of your belief, and those that address a specific key point of the other side’s position. By doing this, you will have your additional support and rebuttal facts available.

Practice Your Argument

how to start a debateYou need to hone your speaking skills as the more persuasive you can be, the better chance you have in a debate. Rehearse your arguments in front a mirror at first, speaking out loud, so that you can hear yourself, as well. Try out your argument on friends and family. Ask them to find holes in your position, even if they are not relevant, to help you to get used to rebutting another person’s view.

Go to debate boards on the internet to practice your arguments there. Watch debates on television and write down some of the key ways that great debaters deal with their opponent. This is where basic reasoning skills come in handy. In addition, take note of how they use filler words to give themselves time to think of an appropriate fact to respond with.

Do Not Make It Personal

Even if the topic of the debate is very personal to you, do not make it personal. Having passion in your belief is great, but the point of a debate is to be objective. Using your own personal experience to support your side is too anecdotal, and if your opponent counters your experience, could make your response come from the heart instead of your head. Moreover, you will have to give a little and take a little.

Listen Respectfully

Learn ahead of the debate to listen to other people views respectfully. This means when having a discussion on any topic with friends and co-workers, learning to restrain from just talking over their opinion. When you are in a formal debate, you will lose if you do not allow the other side to present their issue as fully as yours. Also, learn to keep your language polite and professional.

Debating is an art that develops best when it is practiced frequently. Treat every discussion you have as a ‘mini debate’ as this will help you to hone your skills. Learning how to start a debate is relatively easy. Learning how to prepare for, and win one takes time, research and a lot of practice. Nonetheless, each step you take gets you closer to becoming an expert at debate.

Page Last Updated: February 2020

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