top of page

How to participate

Are you interested in public speaking or debating? Members of the Toronto Debating Society enjoy refining their persuasive speaking skills and our guests enjoy watching our entertaining, lively and heated debates on a variety of topics. There is never a fee to attend!


We have explored debates on politics, science, medicine, religion, Looney Tunes and a wide variety of other topics.


Here are 3 easy steps to get to the podium:

Step 1: Observe

Attend a debate as an observer.

Step 2: Speak Freestyle

Participate in our impromptu speaking session. All members and guests will be invited to speak for one minute on a predetermined topic. Speeches will not be evaluated.

Step 3: Debate as Government Supporter

Browse upcoming debate topics and sign up to be the Member of the Government. (You will need to become a member at this point as only members are allowed to sign up for official debating duties.)


  • This is generally the easiest of the four debating positions. The government defines the resolution before the debate, thereby enabling some control as to which direction the debate takes.

  • Communicate with your partner to define the resolution. Establish the specific arguments that you and your partner will put forward. Plan for three distinct arguments for the Prime Minister and 2 – 3 for the seconder.

  • Be sure to find evidence to support each of your arguments.

  • During the Leader of the Opposition’s speech, take notes and find one or two points of rebuttal.

  • Make one or two comments in support of your partner.

  • Finish by asking the audience to support your point of view.


Listen carefully to the feedback and comments of the adjudicator after your debate. Discuss the debate with other members, all of whom can provide feedback and suggestions for improvement.


Watch your debate on video. Take notes on what worked and what didn't, including tone, body language and eye contact.

Step 4: Debate as Opposition Supporter

Sign up for the role of Member of the Opposition.


  • The MO is the last role to speak and therefore has the most time to prepare after the resolution has been publicly defined.

  • Before the debate starts, with your partner, consider what arguments the government might propose.

  • Prepare 2 -3 arguments to negate the stance of the government.

  • Listen carefully to the Member of the Government to prepare one or two points of rebuttal.

  • Remember to find one or two points to support your partner.

Step 5: Debate as Government Leader

Sign up for the Prime Minister position.


  • The PM, with the Member of Government defines the resolution.

  • Since this is the first role to speak, this is the one debater who can actually completely prepare prior to arriving for the debate.

  • Remember that the PM speaks twice, once at the beginning to outline the governments strategy, and again at the end to summarize
    With your partner, define the resolution.

  • Prepare three main individual arguments to support the resolution. Ensure all three are unique.

  • When speaking, first define the resolution then outline the three arguments and expand on them. Be sure your arguments are supported by evidence.


  • Finish by asking the audience to support your motion.

  • Listen carefully to the Opposition members to prepare your two minute summary for the end of the debate.

  • Listen carefully to the feedback of the adjudicator.

  • Discuss your performance with other members and solicit feedback.

Step 6: Debate as Opposition Leader

Sign up for the Leader of the Opposition position.


  • This is arguably the most difficult of the four positions, and thus the last to tackle.

  • Prepare with your partner for what you expect the government to present as a definition. Since this is a bit of an unknown factor, be prepared to “change horses in mid stream” if the definition does not meet your expectations.

  • Listen carefully to the PM and get the definition copied down clearly.

  • Pick out the PM’s three arguments and try to come up with a rebuttal for each.

  • When you speak, rebut the PM first and then state your arguments.

  • Ask the house to support your position.

  • Listen carefully to the other speakers and prepare your two minute summary.

  • Do not introduce new information into your summary.

Step 7: Continue Experimenting

Continue debating, but also try one of our non-debating meeting positions: Timer, Speaker, Imprompu Organizer, and Debate Adjudicator.

bottom of page