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Hello, I have a debate next week. The topic is : Happy and healthy: can we have it all? and my group chose no. I've never done a debate before and I'm not sure what to do. If you could give advice on how to do a good debate and on this topic, that would be great! XD Thanks!

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1. Listen to what the other side says and then explain why they're wrong.

2. Saying the same thing over and over again and emphasising your point by banging the table/podium will win your team extra points.

3. Don't be afraid to be colourful in your responses, in debates, PG-13 = Please give 13 expletives (the 'expletives' is silent; it's a French thing you see).

4. If your opponents come up with a really good point, counter it with humour i.e.: Opponent: "Birds can fly if they want to." You: "There's always a possibility that there's a lovesick dwarf in a spacesuit on the dark side of the moon shooting lightning out of its boobs while reciting sonnets to its lover, the moon goddess, Luna...but it seems pretty unlikely." People will laugh and forget his good point. And you will win your team extra points.

5. If your opponent fails to see your side of the argument, say, "My worthy opponent, when a wise man points to the moon, the other wise men look at the moon, the fools look at his finger; I am here offering you the moon of possibilities, and all you continue to do is look at my finger. *deep sign* Tsk tsk."

6. If you feel an opponent is making a really strong point that is destroying your side, fake a coughing fit, dramatically, and make it l..a..s..t.. for a while, such that your opponent loses his train of thought and the entire debate halts because of you. They will offer you water, say no. If your opponent picks up without any hesitation, have another coughing fit and then ask for water. When they give you a bottle, begin to take a sip and ask your opponent to continue with an apology. As soon as he starts speaking, drop the bottle and try to make the water splash on him. Start to apologise and then have another coughing fit. His time will run out and if he asks for more time, LOUDLY dispute it and waste time until the time allotted for the debate altogether is over.

7. If one of your team mates makes a strong argument, point your finger directly at your opponent and say, in Simpson-Nelson style, "Ha-ha!"

8. If all else fails: FART! LOUDLY! And then pinch your nose while everyone is shocked and point to your opponent and say, "I think you had too many of those beans at lunch, John. Yeesh! Excuse yourself to the bathroom next time. Believe me, we'll understand!"

9. Yawn loudly and make your mouth go wiiiiide when trying to distract attention form your opponent.

There's a bunch of other things as well, but I'm tired of typing and am laughing too hard at the moment. Lol.

Best of luck with the debate!

Edited by Arrowhead

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If you were looking for some other tips, I can offer some more basic (though less funny) advice.

Structure: start off attacking the points made by the opposition, try to address every point they make (shouldn't take more than 30% of your time), and then go into 2-3 main arguments to support your side for the remainder of the time

Content: try to make a logical argument. Step-by-step. So say if X, then Y, which would lead to Z - which clearly supports our team's argument. Make sure you clearly say when you're moving onto your next point. When writing your speech, I would suggest dot-pointing with clear subheadings and highlighting key points.

Manner: yes, do be funny, but don't personally denigrate the members of the opposition. Make good, humorous references to current affairs, because most people appreciate that. Speak loudly, clearly and if you don't remember what to say, take long pauses. If you are running out of time, talk quickly so you sound enthusiastic!

In terms of this topic, I would say it's probably fairly simple. If it's not too formal, I'd say just talk about how you can't be an IB student whilst you are both happy and healthy (and to be honest, most of us aren't happy or healthy). Anyway, debating isn't as hard as it looks. It's actually quite easy considering you can make up any statistics/facts/examples to support your side! Feel free to be illustrative rather than factually correct :)

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What type of debating are you doing (British Parliamentary, Australia-Asia, etc)? You should take into consideration the style of debating that you are doing and how you are marked before the debate. :)

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So you're going to find the assumptions within your opponents' arguments, rework them and use it against them. Or, you could agree with everything but the keystone of your opponents' argument and watch the rest of their ideas fall apart once you destroy that keystone point.

Those are just some pointers. Otherwise, talk loudly and gain stage presence.

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Guest Positron

What type of debating are you doing (British Parliamentary, Australia-Asia, etc)? You should take into consideration the style of debating that you are doing and how you are marked before the debate. :)

That's an important question; role fulfillment is something that you will be judged on, if you are doing "proper" debating. With "proper" I mean having a debating format, instead of just throwing in random arguments whenever you get a chance to say something :D But, as you said you have never done debating before, I assume it's going to be more like a "discussion-based debate ". I do mainly British Parliamentary Style, but there are some things that apply to all forms of debating:

  • Never get stuck on facts & figures; debating is not about actually being right, it's about being better than your opponent in coming up with and presenting arguments. Focus on your own analysis of the motion. It's very common for beginners to "over-prepare" if they have been given the motion beforehand. You should prepare, but again, remember that you shouldn't just go around looking for studies and statistics supporting your side; being able to throw in results from studies doesn't make you a good debater. Being able to analyse the motion and present your case persuasively does.
  • As mentioned by Arrowhead, using humor can be an effective way of downplaying your opponent's argument, and win the audience to your side. Engage with the audience; don't talk to yourself or to your opponent, but to the audience. Of course the format you're following makes a big difference here; I wouldn't do what Arrowhead suggested in a British Parliamentary Style debating tournament, but I might very well do so in a less formal school debate.
  • Respond and adapt to the debate; it's very unlikely that the debate will go exactly the way you thought it would. Because of this, you'll look less convincing if you just rely on the material you came up with before the debate. Debating requires you to be able to just "wing it", and adapt to situations very quickly. Be "ready" for this, that is, don't freeze if you find yourself in a situation you hadn't prepared for :D
  • It's better to think a few seconds before opening your mouth if your thoughts are "scattered". Having lots of "uhm.. like... uhm.. you know..." won't make your argument sound very convincing, so think before you start talking.
  • As mentioned earlier, structure is important. Obviously, if don't follow a format where you have speeches, it will be of less importance. If you do follow a format with speeches, you could try to look up some format-specific guidelines for the structure of your speech. I will not go into the details of those now, because they vary from format to format. However, always be clear and concise, this will make it easier to follow your line of thought. You should also "flag" your points (= "and now onto my first main point, which about this and this..."). Give examples and analysis.
  • Have fun. When you speak, you're the one who's right; everyone else is damn wrong! Even a strong argument will appear as a weak one if your voice is frail. In debating tournaments substance and presentation are equally important, so even if you have a not-so-good argument, do your best to present it as persuasively as you can.
  • When you speak, you are the boss.

Edited by Positron

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Never get stuck on facts & figures; debating is not about actually being right, it's about being better than your opponent in coming up with and presenting arguments. Focus on your own analysis of the motion. It's very common for beginners to "over-prepare" if they have been given the motion beforehand. You should prepare, but again, remember that you shouldn't just go around looking for studies and statistics supporting your side; being able to throw in results from studies doesn't make you a good debater. Being able to analyse the motion and present your case persuasively does.
Firstly, to expand on this point, in rebuttal, do not be pedantic about what the opposition says, however tempting that may be. The point of debating is not to get statistics correct 3 decimal points, or slight technicalities. For example I have participated in debates where, in reply to the oppositions point, in which she mentioned Australia's president, one of our speakers started her speech with "In Australia we actually have a Prime Minister not a President." Although this is true (event if I wish it wasn't, but that's for a different debate), it is not relevant.

Secondly Make sure your team has one consistant case. i.e. you are all argueing the same thing. As stupid as it sounds, I have been involved in countless debates where one team has won or lost because their 1st speaker was arguing somthing different to their 2nd speaker who was arguing somthing different to their 3rd speaker. A good oppostion will point this out and 'rip it to shreads'. I find that it is also important to stick to one case through out the debate (don't change directions half-way through). Bar a few exceptions, this wont wen well.

My final bit of advice is a bit harder, but if your keen give it a go. In regards to further structure, specifically for rebuttal, try to structure your into three main points. Your opposition will probably have lots of different points, including their actuall speech plus rubuttal. Try to group all of these points into three key areas, and attack them in this order. By doing this your speech will be easier to follow and understand.

Remember...above all... have fun. (appologies for the cliche, but I couldn't resist)

Edited by theboro76

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Have all of your arguments written down on index cards and number the cards (try to get facts and quotes to bolster these arguments). While the opponent is talking take small notes to remember the points the opponent made and try to find your points that you could use to rebut the opponents points . Good luck!

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Thank you to everyone who responded!!! XD I don't really know which type of debate I'm doing, but it's not a tournament, just a class debate. And my teacher said that she wants it in a kinda essay format so you have the introduction, and state the 3 arguments ( or more...) the explanation or elaborating of the arguments and the conclusion. Also, we are in pairs of two so I have a parter that's working with me, and she wants us to have a video that will support our topic of happiness and health(NO) from Ted.com

Edited by katherine

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And it would kinda help if people can post stuff on happiness and health and how we can't have them... ( LOL I was supposed to debate this week but the teacher was away and all the other debates took the whole period. My group is going last and so we're probably presenting Monday). :)

Edited by katherine

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Also, we are in pairs of two so I have a parter that's working with me, and she wants us to have a video that will support our topic of happiness and health(NO) from Ted.com

I'm not sure about your debates, but in general I would recommend not using a video. Instead quote it, mentioning who said it and a line about them (e.g. qualifications, experience). In general videos tend to take to much time and unless exicuted well can look unprofessional and confusing. Althought this is just my opinion and in the debates I do your not allowed to use them anyway.

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