Elements of Debating eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 138 pages of information about Elements of Debating.

Time of Speaking.—­Each speaker is ordinarily allowed one constructive speech and one rebuttal speech.  The constructive speech is usually about twice the length of the refutation.  Twelve and six, ten and five, and eight and four minutes are all frequent time-limits for debates.  Many debaters make shorter speeches.

Order of speaking.—­The debate is opened by the affirmative.  The first speaker is followed by a negative debater, who, in turn, is followed by a member of the affirmative team, and so on until the entire constructive argument is presented.  A member of the negative team opens the refutation.  Speakers then alternate until the debate is closed by the affirmative.  The order of speakers on each team is often different in refutation than in constructive argument.

Presiding chairman.—­Every debate should be presided over by a chairman.  His duties are to state the question to the audience, introduce each speaker, and announce the decision of the judges.  He sometimes also acts as timekeeper.

Timekeepers.—­A timekeeper representing each of the competing organizations should note the moment when each speaker begins and notify the chair when the allotted time has been consumed.  It is customary to give each speaker as many minutes of warning before his time expires as he may desire.

Salutation.—­Good form in debating requires that each speaker shall begin with a salutation to the various personages whom he addresses.  The most common salutation is:  “Mr. Chairman, worthy opponents, honorable judges, ladies and gentlemen.”

Reference to other speakers.—­In referring to members of the opposing team never say, “he said,” “she said,” or “they said.”  Always speak of your opponents in the third person in some such way as, “my honorable opponents,” “the first speaker of the negative,” “the gentlemen of the affirmative,” or “the gentlemen from X.”

In referring to other members of your own team say, “my colleagues,” or “my colleague, the first speaker,” etc.

The judges.—­There are generally three judges.  Where it is practicable, a larger number is desirable because their opinion is more nearly the opinion of the audience as a whole.  Needless to say they should be competent and wholly without prejudice as to teams or question.

The decision.—­The decision of each judge should be written on a slip and sealed in an envelope provided for that purpose (see Appendix IX, “Forms for Judges’ Decision").  These should be opened by the chairman in view of the audience, and the decision announced.



We have now completed our study of debating.  We saw first that all talking and writing is discourse, and that one great division of discourse—­that which aims to gain belief—­is argumentation.  Argumentation we divided into spoken and written argumentation.  We found that it varies in formality but that, when carried on orally under prescribed conditions and with the expectation of having a decision rendered, it is called debating.

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Elements of Debating from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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