How to Become a Debate Master

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Marlon M., Staff Writer

     Lol, cya, brb. These are phrases and acronyms that we hear daily. However, there will be at least one point in your life where you will have to debate and speak in person. In situations like this, when you find yourself in a political discussion or a debate on gender equality, you will know what to do.

     The first step to becoming a master at debating is to evaluate whether engaging in the debate is worth it. Many times, people run headfirst into a debate, knowing nothing about the topic and not realizing that the opponent is close-minded. You have to assess whether the debate is worth your time. If so, proceed.

     The second step is to get your arguments together. If you find yourself debating about a topic that you don’t know much about, secede from the debate. It will save you from looking like a fool. The rule of thumb is to have about 5 points and arguments that you present, and at least one counterargument. 

     The third step is to start debating. Begin by stating what you agree with, and notice whether your opponent stays open-minded, or starts showing signs of aggression and malevolence. 

     Lastly, defend from your opponent’s unfair tactics. One of these strategies is going after your character. Point this out, and move on. Another tactic is called straw-manning, which is the act of creating a caricature of your ideas and then attacking those. This is often started by saying,” So you’re saying…”. However, some people make genuine assumptions about what you’re saying so distinguish those from the ill-willed attacks. 

     The last attack you might encounter is called “Assuming the sale” from the technique car salesman use to get you to buy a car. They will often ask if you want the leather or fabric interior. This also happens in the debate. “So you’re saying that women should put up with it”. If you answer at face value, you are indirectly saying that there is something to put up with, which is a hidden question. Another example is when someone asks questions that can be interpreted in many ways. These questions include, “Do you think that a transgender man is a real man?” These questions are framed so that you don’t know how to answer. What is a real man? In these cases just ask for clarification. 

     To note, do not use any unfair tactics against your opponents, this just makes you a hypocrite. Other than that, if you implement these tips into your debate routine, you are well on your way to becoming a debate master.