How To Be A Good Debater

By Shatavisha Chakravorty

There is a certain aura about people who can make tables turn with their gift to gab. These type of people can convince you that the sun rises in the west if they want to. Irrespective of whether you look up to them or you despise them, you cannot deny that at some point or the other in your life you wanted to be like them. These people are the ones we call debaters.


Now, honestly speaking, it does not really matter if you are debating from a podium or you are trying to establish your stand in a gathering of cousins and friends, your argumentative skills as a debater will help you. Most people feel that since they are not born debaters, there is no way in which they can become a good debater.

How To Be A Good Debater

However, that is far from being true. Debating is a skill that can be easily acquired with a little bit of effort. When practised regularly, this skill can take one places. This article explores ways and means in which you can groom yourself to become a debater of exceptional calibre.

1. Keep Calm

This is the golden rule of debating. Irrespective of whether you are debating on the podium or at the dining table, since the other person has a perspective that is different from that of your own, chances are what the other person says might offend you.

In case such a thing does happen, make sure that you do not start shouting, swearing or even raising your voice. Keeping your voice and body language at a moderate tone throughout the debate will make you appear mysterious to your opponent, thereby, making things more difficult for them.

2. Act Confident

This point applies not just to debating but also to life. Even if you are not confident yourself, if you can manage to portray yourself to look confident, half your battle is won. Any opponent will think twice before rebutting or cross-questioning something that has been spoken with confidence.

3. Maintain Proper Body Language

Make sure that you maintain proper eye contact with your audience. Do not look at a particular section of the audience for the entire debate. This will make the rest of the audience feel unwanted. Do not fidget with your hands. Use your hands to talk.

If you are not comfortable with the idea, you can also consider keeping them pinned in front of you. Another point that is to be noted with respect to body language is the fact that you must stand erect and make sure that you do not lean on the podium.

4. Know The Form Of The Debate

This point applies to those people who are participating in a formal debate. There are different forms of debating (viz. parliamentary debate, Asian parliamentary debate, turncoat debate, one-on-one debate, amongst others). The rules of each of these debates differ from that of the other. In such a situation it is important for you to know which form of debate you are participating in and make sure that you stick to the rules of the same.

5. Use Of Debate Jargons

This is another point that applies to formal debating. There are certain terms that are used in a debate with which every professional debater is well-versed (words like motion, rebuttal, treasury, etc.). In order to appear confident in front of your opponent and not feel out of place in the podium, make sure that you are acquainted with these commonly used debating jargons.

6. Work On Emotions

Try to tell stories and facts that will make people connect to you at a personal level. This tip is of utmost importance if the motion on the floor is something that is humane in nature (topics like euthanasia, social justice, feminism, etc.). In case the motion is non-emotional in nature but you know that your opponent is someone who is prone to strong emotions, you can still play this card.

7. Speak Loud And Clear

The biggest turn off in any debate would be if the debater starts mumbling. Make sure that such a thing does not happen to you. Be very clear about what you speak and state the same in a loud and clear tone. Avoid the usage of fillers like 'aha', 'umn' and 'humn' as much as you possibly can.

If it is a formal debate we are talking about, make sure that you converse only in the language of the debate and do not end up getting words from some other language into the debate. That type of MTI is strictly discouraged in the world of debating.

8. Keep The Topic On Track

In the course of a debate it often happens that both the parties tend to deviate from the original idea and ultimately the conversation ends up being about something that is totally irrelevant. Make sure that does not happen.

Make sure that you stick to the topic. If you realise that your opponent is deviating, try to get them back on track. Doing so will ensure that you earn brownie points from the judges.

9. Look For Faults

The key here is to look for logical fallacies in your opponent's statements and then bring it out to the public. In most forms of debate you get an opportunity to question the statements of your opponent. If you can make the most of those 2 or 3 minutes, you can easily win the debate.

10. Do Your Research Well

The last and perhaps the most important tip in debating is to be well-versed with what you are speaking on. Doing so will not only ensure that you speak well in the debate, but it will also put you in a position wherein you are able to answer the questions posed to you by your opponent.

Needless to say, these tips increase your chances of winning a debate by leaps and bounds.

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