Principle of parliamentary debateOrder Of Procedure The motion for each team will be drawn by lot so that each motion is debated only once. The order of procedure for each debate will be as follows: - Discussion of the topic 5 minutes - Proposal of the motion 4 minutes - Opposing of the motion 4 minutes - Seconding the motion 3 minutes - Seconding for the opposition 3 minutes - Open debate with Intervention from the floor 8 minutes maximum - Summing up for the opposition 3 minutes - Summing up for the motion 3minutes
The teams next in turn to debate will leave the auditorium after the open debate. The motion will be then drawn leaving 5 minutes for discussion. At the end of the debating session, debaters and spectators will be asked to leave the auditorium to allow the judges to confer. After reaching their decision judges will announce the winning team and the runners- up. Before announcing the winners, the panel of judges (or one of its members) will offer constructive criticism and advice to the speakers.GeneralThis is a debating competition and not a competition for public speaking. Judges shouldwatch out for speakers who give little or no evidence of initiative as debaters. Thesumming-up speeches are important tests of debating ability.
CRITERIAJudges will assess teams principally on the basis of three criteria: Strategy, Content,and Style. These three headings are not mutually exclusive: there will inevitably besome overlap.1. StrategyThe main aspects of this are teamwork and rebuttal.TeamworkThe two speakers should complement rather than duplicate each other’s arguments. Itshould be clear that their case has been well co-ordinate in advance. Competitorsshould remember, however, that arguments and rebuttal will develop quickly andperhaps unpredictably in the course of the debate.RebuttalApart from the opening speaker in favors of the motion, all the debaters are expected torebut the case of the opposing side at the same time as forwarding their ownarguments. It is not sufficient simply to state that the other side is wrong; there must befrequent reference to what has been said and an explanation of how points introducednow counter those previously made. In short, the ability to think on one’s feet should berewarded highly. The summing-up of speeches should deal with significant points fromthe floor debate and summaries the major arguments of the team by highlightingprincipal areas of disagreement and showing why they can only be resolved one way.
2. Content1. It should be evident from a good speech that the team has carefully considered the motion. Each speaker should demonstrate an understanding of the issues involved in the case being argued and support it with carefully selected and relevant evidence. Irrelevance or disregard for the motion should be penalized2. Each speech should develop an argument rather than rely on a series of assertions. Logic, clear structure and consistency of argument will be rewarded.3. The opening speaker of each side is responsible for establishing clearly the terms on which the case will be conducted. Weak or frivolous interpretations are unlikely to be successful and teams should be careful to avoid touristic or tautologies definitions. (See also note on definition under specific criteria for judges).4. The summing-up speeches must not include new material except by way of rebuttal.3. StyleStyle may be defined as oratorical skill. It does not cover what is said but how it is said.The following areas are all relevant. Speakers who do not use oratorical skills will bepenalized but an unnecessarily flamboyant or pretentious style is unlikely to besuccessful. 1. The speaker’s ability to express him/herself persuasively. 2. The extent to which the individual develops rapport with the audience. 3. Variety of voice. 4. Use of humour. 5. Diction: choice of language and fluency. 6. Use of notes
Comments on the use of notesSpeakers who read a script or recite a memorised piece will be penalised. Notesbrought into the debate should therefore primarily be for reference purposes and aspeaker should not be tied to them. Good debaters will, however, need to make andrefer more closely to notes during the course of the debate in order to rebut theopposing case.The Floor DebateThe open period before the summing-up of speeches is an opportunity for members ofthe audience to react to the debate so far.Points should be kept short and addressed to the chair. New arguments may, ifnecessary, be introduced to do so, but it is preferable to link rebuttal to an establishedline of argument.The floor debate is meant for students.
ADDITIONAL GUIDANCE FOR JUDGESApplying the CriteriaThe judges’ task is to determine which team or teams were best. If two teams are to beselected they may come from the same debate or from different debates. The decisionmust be based on the presentation of arguments and evidence by the team as outlinedin the three criteria of Strategy, Content and Style, which have equal status. Since it isnot easy to predict how a debate will develop, judges are strongly advised to takedetailed notes for later reference. In the end, however, it is the overall impression ofwhich team(s) made the most convincing case that will determine the verdict. Thejudges must base their decision on the evidence and arguments raised by the debatersand on nothing else. The judges’ own views on an issue must be set aside. The teamsare to be marked according to how they would impress a reasonable and impartialobserver. Such an observer can be assumed to have an adequate general knowledgeof the issues but the judges should not penalise debaters who are guilty of a flawunobserved by any other speakers and only apparent to someone exceptionally wellversed in the topic.
Specific criteriaThe judges should not impose too heavy or too unreasonable a burden of proof on theProposition. Debates are not criminal cases in which the prosecution must prove thecase beyond a shadow of doubt. Anything that can be proved in so short a time as acompetitive debate round is probably a truism. In genuinely debatable cases there isalways some doubt. If the motion is of an absolute nature the proposers are onlyexpected to show its validity as a general principle. It is completely invalid or wrong toclaim ”I simply have to give one example, one exception, to destroy the proposer’scase”. Similarly the Proposition should not have to provide lots of specifics. As long astheir definition is clear, then it is logic and values that are at issue. Judges shouldbeware of Opposition teams whose speeches consist primarily of ”They have not toldus exactly how it would work”, ”Make them show exactly where the money would comefrom”, etc. These are questions or objections but do not constitute compellingarguments. Whilst an Opposition team is not obliged to put forward a positive case of itsown, it is effective to present a cogent negative philosophy in response to theProposition case.A Note on Defining the MotionThe first Proposer must explain clearly his/her team’s interpretation of the motion.Intelligent and straightforward definitions are expected. The Opposers should acceptthis definition unless they can demonstrate that it is faulty. Such a challenge must bemade by the first Opposer challenging the motion, then the second Proposer must dealwith the question of definition. If not, the Opposer’s new definition will be considered tohave been accepted. It should be emphasised that it is far preferable to avoid adefinitional clash. However, the Opposers must be penalised heavily if they adopt a newdefinition without explaining why they have rejected that offered by the Proposers.
SOME NOTES ON DEBATINGThese notes are not a substitute for the official guidance given to judges andcompetitors. They should not be applied too rigidly. However, it is hoped thatthey will help all speakers to prepare effectively.1. TeamworkBefore preparing their speeches the two members of the team should spend some timediscussing the motion and working out how best to divide their material. The twospeakers should complement one another and not simply repeat the same points.Each speaker must have a clear idea of what the other intends to say before the debatebegins.2. LogicThough good factual knowledge is expected, you will above all be assessed on qualityof argument. Make sure what you say is clear and logical. If possible, develop a line ofargument rather than rely on a series of unconnected points.
3. DeliverySpeeches should not be read as this reduces rapport with the audience. In any case, ina good debate only one of the four speakers (the first proposer) can know in advanceexactly what to say. It is often helpful to use notes written on small cards. Vary the toneand pace of your speaking. Look at the audience.4. RebuttalThis is the most demanding and most interesting feature of a good debate. Afterthe opening speech, each speaker must spend some time attacking what the opponentshave said. You should try to pick as many holes as possible in the other side’s casewhile consolidating your own defense. Treat it like a sport. Debates where each sideconcentrates on its own case and ignores its opponents are dull. More specific adviceon rebuttal is given below.5. Structure of speechesThere are no firm rules in English debating about how speeches are constructed butthese guidelines may help:The First Proposer should explain how the motion has been interpreted as clearly aspossible. There should follow a description of how the Proposer’s case will be dividedbetween first and second speakers. The first part of the case, which will probably be thelarger part, follows:
The First Opposer should begin by dealing with any difference of opinion over what themotion means. If there is an argument over definition, the Opposer must explain whytheir interpretation is better though it is always preferable for the Opposers to argue onthe Proposer’s own ground. After this, the first Opposer describes how their argumentswill be divided and gives the first part of the case. During the course of this one or twomajor points made by the Proposer should be rebutted.Seconders on each side should divide their time about equally between replying topoints made by their opponents and completing the case for their own side. At the endof each speech a brief summary of the whole argument should be given.Summing-up speeches. No new material may be introduced at this stage except byway of reply. A good summing-up speech will deal with points from the floor, willsummarise the essential differences between the two sides and will explain clearly whyone side is superior to the other. In the absence of worthwhile points from the floor it is agood tactic to rebut more of the points offered by the main speaker on the other side.6. PreparationIt follows from the last section that speakers will be better prepared if they have tried toanticipate what arguments will be used by their opponents and how they can berebutted.
7. ConclusionAnybody who met all the criteria here would be a world-class debater. Do not beintimidated. At least you have an idea of where you should aim. Above all, regard adebate as a competitive challenge: you should go in absolutely determined not to let theopposition better you in argument. Even when not presenting your speech you can keepinvolved by passing notes to the other speaker and by offering points of information.Taken in that spirit, debating is very enjoyable.DUTIES OF TIMEKEEPERS1. Make sure you have two reliable stopwatches.2. You will need an audible signal, preferably a bell. This should be loud enough to be heard clearly by the speakers and the judges but not so loud as to cause a disturbance.3. Each main speech is allocated a maximum of 4 minutes. After the floor debate, a further 3 minutes will be allowed in which either team member will sum up. An audible signal will be given after three minutes of each team’s first speech and again after four minutes to mark the end of the speech. In the summing up: a signal will be given after 2 minutes and again after 3 minutes.4. Make a note of the time any speech runs over.Remember to stop the clock for any other interruption such as point of order orintervention by the Chair.
THE JUDGES’ MARK SHEETSMarks awarded should reflect the judge’s decision; they should not make that decisionfor the judge. Marks, however, are not irrelevancies; they exist as a guide to the judgeand to the competitors as to the nature of the judgments that the judge has made as thedebates progress. For categories marked out of 10, excellence should receive 9-10,good quality 7-8, average quality 5-6, below average quality 3-4 and poor quality 1-2.These values are halved for reply speeches, except for strategy, which is again markedout of 10. These marks apply to the standard of the competition, not to any notionaluniversal dimension of debating skills. The best speeches of the contest should begiven 27-30 marks out of 30 and the worst 3-6 out of 30. For most debates the rangewill be narrower, but there is no point in having marks available that are never used. Inshort, every effort should be made to separate teams. Judges are asked to writeexplanatory and constructive comments on the mark sheet, not merely unhelpfulcriticism. Judges must remember that the competition is also an opportunity to learn andimprove debating techniques and that judges are central to this educational process.Judges are encouraged to discuss their decisions with competitors after the debateprovided that competitors and coaches do not abuse this openness and see it as anattack on what they regard as a wrong decision. Written comments on the sheets maybe kept brief in the interests of expediting the adjudication
Principle of parliamentary debate Order Of Procedure •The motion for each team will be drawn by lot so that each motion is debated only once. •The teams next in turn to debate will leave the auditorium after the open debate. The motion will be then drawn leaving 5 minutes for discussion Criteria •Judges will assess teams principally Strategy on the basis of three criteria: • The main Strategy, Content, aspects of this Style. These three are teamwork headings are not and rebuttal. mutually exclusive: there will Perliamentary inevitably be some Debate overlap Style •The speaker’s ability to express him/herself Content persuasively. •It should be evident •The extent to which the from a good speech individual develops •Each speech should rapport with the audience. develop an argument •Variety of voice. rather than rely on a •Use of humour. series of assertions •Diction: choice of language and fluency. •Use of notes
Principle of parliamentary debate Teamwork Conclusion Logic Some Notes On Debating Preparation Delivery Structure of Rebuttal speeches