Debating is an excellent way to develop critical thinking, public speaking expertise, strong research skills and to expand general knowledge. The Toronto Debating Society practices parliamentary style debating. A debate round has a Speaker and two teams with two debaters each. One team represents the government, while the other represents the opposition. Depending on your role in a debate, you may be for, or against, a resolution (aka proposition, or motion). There are many different ways to construct an argument. Most are straightforward and accessible. The ideal way to master these techniques is to take on various roles that compel you to defend a proposition you are not inclined to believe in.
The PM is the first speaker in favour of the resolution being debated. The PM is responsible for defining the terms in the proposition, establishing the Government’s lines of reasoning that supports the motion and setting the foundation for the Member of the Government’s (MG) arguments.
Leader of the Opposition
The LO is the first person to speak against the resolution. The LO should address and attempt to dismiss each of the PM’s points one by one and also provide alternative viewpoints and examples to build and support the Opposition’s case.
This Member of the Government [MG] is the second speaker in favour of the proposition and is responsible for countering the LO’s arguments point by point, while expanding the PM’s points to support the Government’s position.
This Member of the Opposition [MO] is the second speaker against the proposition and, as the final speaker in the “constructive” portion of the debate, is the last person allowed to put forward new arguments. The MO will counter the arguments of the MG and further develop Opposition arguments.
We strongly enourage each member to debate. However, we also have several additional meeting roles available. Each will help you grow as a public speaker, communicator and leader. Many will help build your critical thinking skills.
Our meetings cannot run as well as they do without these roles being filled. Consider signing up for one today!
Arguably, the most important person in our meetings is the Timer. S/he keeps the meeting running efficiently by ensuring that everyone who speaks adheres to time limits.
Although this is a time-consuming role (pun intended!), it is also a straightforward and an easy way to participate in our meetings.
At every meeting there is an opportunity for each member and guest to speak for one minute on a pre-determinded topic. If you would like to be the person who chooses the topics and steers the session, volunteer for this role.
Choose a theme, organize approximately 20 topics on individual slips of paper, and bring them to the meeting. This can include thought-provoking ideas, humour, and/or frivolity.
Each debate is hosted by a Speaker.
Ensures that the definition of the Government's resolution is "debatable" and fair;
Introduces each speaker and the Adjudicator(s);
Moderates the post-mortem conversation about the debate while the Adjudicator(s) ascertains how each speaker and team performed;
Ensures that each debater follows the rules of debating;
Awards the "People's Choice" award to the debating team who persuaded the audience to agree with their point of view.
The Debate Adjudicator judges the debate based on a set of criteria.
Adjudicators work in pairs to determine who won the debate, based on our scoring card (club-designed judging sheet).
During the debates, Adjudictors listen carefully, record notes, and ponder point allocation.
Immediately following the debate, they retire from the room and have ten minutes to decide on a winning team. They also select a debater who was the most persuasive, and the most compelling, to win the coveted "Best Debater" award.
Once the decisions have been finalized, Adjudicators return to the meeting. One Adjudicator presents a seven-minute presentation that explains the judging rationale for both awards. It's capped off by announcing the winning team and the 'Best Debater'.