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Speaker for Parliamentary Style Debating


The Speaker of the House is widely viewed as symbolizing the authority of the House. The Speaker's most prominent role is that of presiding officer of the House. In this capacity s/he is empowered by members to administer proceedings on the House floor, including the power to recognize Members on the floor to speak.


The Speaker (Chair) presides over the House and ensures that everyone respects its rules and traditions and must be impartial and apply the rules to all Members equally. The Speaker is responsible for ensuring that the debate is conducted in an orderly and effective manner. The Speaker is required to know the rules and procedures of debate and to assist and direct debaters who deviate from these guidelines. The Speaker must remain impartial during the entire debate.


The Speaker may introduce the club to the assembly and explain the process of debates and debating as conducted at the Toronto debating Society.


Part of the introduction should include:

  1. an introduction to the debating style

  2. the times of speakers (7, 7, 5, 5, 2, 2)

  3. points of order (ask teams if they agree to this)

  4. club view of heckling and audience participation.


Here is a list of terms and references which may be given to the audience. Obviously, what you wish to say will depend on your style as much as the level of experience in the teams and visitors to the House.


The Speaker of the House has these duties:

  • Chairs the debate

  • Calls each debater to the podium

  • Rules on procedural violations (i.e. tight case, tautologies in definition, points of order, points of personal privilege)

  • Calls on judges to give critique

  • Concludes the debate


You may explain Debating Terms (Optional)

  • "Be it resolved " .......................................................:.

  • The Government, the team in favour of the resolution

  • Opposition: the team against the resolution

  • Evidence: the proof used to support your case

  • Rebuttal: dispute other team's evidence by showing what is wrong and why


Explain Team Responsibilities (Sometimes Usefull)

- Define the resolution
- Present a case in support of the resolution
- Prove that the resolution is necessary and beneficial ! Refute the arguments of the Opposition


- Refute the arguments of the Government

- Prove that the resolution is not beneficial, or necessary


Before the debate begins, the Speaker should ensure the following:

  • Ask for the video equipment to be turned on

  • Ask both teams if Points of Information are to be taken

  • State the Date, the Proposition and introduce the Prime minister



Speaker's Script

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. My name is NAME and I am going to be your speaker tonight.

First I am going to introduce the speakers, and explain proceedings, rules and regulations. That will be followed by the actual debate. 


Tonight’s resolution is “___________________________”.  


On my right side is the Government team lead by the P.M. NAME, and seconded by NAME. The government team is in favour of the resolution.


On my left is the Opposition team lead by the Leader of the Opposition, NAME  and seconded by NAME. The opposition team is against the resolution.


First the P.M. will introduce and define the resolution.

Once the resolution is defined it cannot be changed.

After defining the resolution, the P.M. will introduce the arguments in support of the resolution – and will provide evidence to substantiate those arguments.

The PM will speak for 7 minutes. 


The L.O. will respond to the PM – and will try to refute the arguments of the gov’t in an attempt to show that the resolution is not true.

The L.O. will also have 7 minutes to speak. 


The Member of Government will try to rebut the arguments of the L.O. and advance some new ones in support of the resolution. The MoG will have 5 minutes to speak. 


And finally the Seconder of the Opposition will have an opportunity to refute the previously advanced arguments and come up with new ones against the resolution.

The Opposition Seconder will have 5 min. to speak.


Following these presentations the LO and the PM will have an opportunity to speak to us for 2 minutes each. They will attempt to summarize their arguments and shore up support for their position.


That will conclude the first part of the debate.  I will explain the final part of the debate after both leaders have concluded their 2-minute summaries.


Before we start the actual debate I will ask you to turn on the Video. 


Welcome tonight to the Toronto Debating Society. It is “DATE”. This is a ...(Regular) Parliamentary debate.

Our resolution is: be is resolved “___________________”.  The P.M. for this evening is (NAME)___________, who will speak to us for 7 minutes now.


Thank you …. Next there will be a Leader of the Opposition. S/he will also speak to us for 7 min. Please welcome (NAME) ________________.

Thank you …. Now the seconder for the Gov’t  will have an opportunity to speak for 5 minutes. Please welcome (NAME) _______________.   


Thank you …. And finally the seconder for the Opposition  will conclude the first part of the debate. S/he will also speak to us for 5 mins. Please welcome (NAME) _______. 


Now the LO and the PM will have an opportunity to speak to us for 2 minutes each. They will attempt to summarize their arguments and shore up support for their position.


This has concluded the first part of the debate.

In the second part I will first open proceedings to the audience. You will have an opportunity to speak for about one minute on the resolution. You may express your opinion on the debate, voice your opinion on the subject, even criticize or judge the speakers.


At this time you will also have an opportunity to vote on the debate. The ballots have been distributed, and I will announce the results at the end.


This will be followed by an adjudicator, who will speak for 7 minutes.


We now you have an opportunity to speak on tonight’s subject. Who would like to go first?



An overview of Speaker's remarks relating to Debate


The following is intended as a guide for introducing Speeches from the Floor after the debate (while the adjudication is underway) and during subsequent voting for the 'people's choice' award.


Speeches from the Floor


Ask for the Video to be turned off.


“We have just heard the Government and the Opposition state their cases. Now it is the audience's turn to speak for or against the resolution as the Government has defined it.

If you are speaking, please stand and state whether you are supporting the resolution, opposing the resolution, or if you are undecided.

Please keep your comments brief and restrict yourself to a single argument."


-- comments from the floor.


Ask for the camera to be turned on.




We have heard the entire debate. Now it is the Members' turn to decide which side has been the most persuasive.


When you are considering how to vote, please ignore the speeches from the floor. Simply base your vote on the cases that were made by the Government and the Opposition.


Also keep in mind that this vote is not based on what you think about the resolution. Instead, your vote should indicate which side you think has been the most persuasive tonight. In other words, imagine you do not have an opinion, one way or the other, and ask yourself which side has presented the most compelling case.


By show of hands, who believes the Government has been most persuasive? (# votes) _______________

By show of hands, who believes the Opposition has been most persuasive? (# votes)   _______________


“I declare the motion Carried (gov't wins) / Defeated (opposition wins)”

The Speaker may now make some remarks concerning the speakers presentation.


© 2016, Toronto Debating Society



Rules and Procedures The Speaker Needs to Knows


The Toronto Debating Society Points of Information

What are Points of Information?


Points of Information are an opportunity for a member of the opposing side to interject with a question or comment during a speech.


A Point of Information is not intended to give rise to a dialogue nor is it intended to be a speech that allows the opposing member to dominate the current speaker’s time allotment. (Note that the time allotted for the speech is not increased to offset the interruption.)


Are Points of Information Mandatory?


No. The Government and the Opposition must agree before the debate begins to allow Points of Information during the debate.


How are Points of Information Made?


Points of Information can only be offered after the first minute and before the last minute of a speech.


There is a 4 step protocol:


Step 1: The member wishing to make the Point of Information stands


Step 2: The member speaking has three options:

                                                                                <  accept the POI by saying “yes”

                                                                                <  defer the POI by saying “Just a minute please” (deferred until they finish their point)

                                                                                <  reject the POI by saying “No thank you” (or wave a hand as a gesture for questioner to sit down)


Step 3: Depending on the decision of the member speaking, the member makes his POI and then sits down, remains standing until the member speaking says “Yes”, or sits down.

Step 4:  If the debater who is speaking recognizes the point, then he or she says "On that point" and allows the questioner to give their point. At any time, the debater whose speech it is may stop the POI and tell the questioner to sit down. The debater who is speaking does not have to recognize or refuse the point immediately. She/he can leave the questioner standing until it is convenient for the debater who is speaking to indicate whether the point will be entertained.


Some debaters ask a special form of POI called a point of clarification. Clarification means that a debater does not understand the case or a particular argument. If possible, the speaker should try to answer the clarification to ensure a confusion-free debate round. Do not abuse the idea of clarification by asking too many clarification questions or disguising arguments as clarification.


Is a follow-up permitted?


DEFINITELY NOT. The intent is not to start a dialogue. The member making a Point of Information may start the protocol over again but the speaker is not obliged to accept the new Point of Information.


Is there a strategy for dealing with Points of Information?


The member making a Point of Information will usually try to either throw a speaker off his or her train of thought, or raise doubts about the argument in the mind of the audience.


Is the Speaker involved in POI’s?


No. Typically the Speaker does not need to become engaged in POI’s unless he/ she feels that the person requesting the POI has grossly overstepped their boundaries.

Speaker's Script Debate
Speaker's script Feedback & Voting
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