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6-step formula to help kids win a debate competition

By Mansi Jain,

Encourage your child to build a strong argument for his upcoming debate competition.

Help your budding debate champion win a competition hands-down with these tips.

Participating in extra-curricular activities like a debate competition helps students develop oratory and leadership skills, builds their self-confidence and analytical as well as critical acumen. Help your budding debate champion win a competition hands-down with these tips.  

Keep the central idea simple 
Every good argument has a central point of focus upon which the whole case rests. That one central idea should be conveyed in clear and simple terms so that there is no room for misinterpretation. 

Clarify assumptions  
When a claim is made, it rests on certain assumptions. These assumptions can be very obvious or need to be built through the duration of the allotted speaking time. Clearly stating these assumptions lends credibility to the argument. 

Collect evidence  
Research the issue in depth, using primary, secondary, and tertiary sources. Use personal anecdotes, back up the claim with formal research studies and findings, and double-triple check sources. The important thing to keep in mind while gathering evidence is keeping the audience in mind. Choose sources that will increase the credibility of the information.  

Consider key objections  
Think about other viewpoints related to the argument. There are always two sides to a story and there are always opposing views to any claim. A compelling argument can’t be made unless the reasons why someone might oppose it are understood, anticipated and countered. 

Avoid generalisation 
Platitudes and generalisations are rarely persuasive and stand to annoy the audience more than anything. They don’t provide any new useful information and eat away at the already limited speaking time provided. Instead, shine a light on specific case studies and humanising the issue by giving it a solid narrative. 

Beware of logical fallacies 
On the hierarchy of argument, fallacies lie very close to the lowest rung of the ladder and are the easiest to demolish. Fallacies are invalid or faulty reasoning that may seem compelling on the surface but only really serve as diversions and deceptions without adding anything substantial to the conversation. Logical fallacies like ad hominem which are directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining are also very common. Teach your budding debate master to stay away from it.  

Tie it all back to the main point  
With all the information presented, there is a good chance some tangents were ventured into to explain certain nuances. It is important that by the end of the speech, the audience hasn’t lost sight of the original central idea. Restate that main point in different terms and connect them to all the evidences that have been presented.

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