Last week we focused on how to write a good speech, and this week we want to focus on another aspect of public speaking: debates. A debate is different from a speech because its purpose is for two sides to compete to prove which point is more valid. Teaching kids how to debate is important because it not only teaches kids how to be good speakers, but also good listeners.
A debate is not just a speech where you can prepare word for word what you are going to say. Debates require their participants to actively listen to the other side, and to come up with a response, on the spot, to what the other has argued. So, here are some tips for your students to exercise good listening and speaking skills to become the best debaters!
Teach kids how to debate by making sure they know their facts, and know them well
In any form of public speaking, it is important to be well researched and know what you are talking about. Specifically, when you start teaching kids how to debate, it is important to make sure the student understands what their points are so they don’t contradict themselves. Just like a speech, have your students practice speaking their points out loud so that they can be confident in what they are saying.
Teach kids to know the other side of the story beforehand
Not only do students have to research their own topics, but they should also make sure they have an idea of what their opponent will be arguing before they go into the debate. While they are researching their topic, also have your student look up what the other side might say, so that they can have some rebuttal points ready. Knowing what the other side could say will allow your child to respond quickly, and they will have a lesser chance of being caught off guard.
When debating, think clearly and logically
When teaching kids how to debate, it’s important for them to know how to think clearly and logically to prove their point in a structured way. Have your students make a list of all their points, then prioritize which ones are most important. This way, they can clearly see in front of them what points they should focus on. It will also help them if their opponent says something they were not prepared for. They won’t forget what their main point is and can use that to find a way to bring it back to the importance of their main point. Also, this way their points will not be out of order or confusing. Having a clear and organized train of thought will add to their confidence in public speaking and make them appear more professional.
Pick interesting debate topics that relate to your students’ studies
If you are looking for topics your students or tutoring subjects can debate about, just pull topics from whatever it is they are studying right now in school. If they are learning about the renaissance, have them debate about whether they would prefer to live then, or now in modern times. Or, if they are learning about the human body, have each child pick an organ or system in the body and argue that it is the most important, or does the most work.
Having your students do a debate is also a great way for them to learn about a totally new topic because it forces them to research and really get to know something they didn’t before. So, including a debate in your lesson plans can be a fun way to teach your students their next lesson.
Have fun picking interesting topics of debates for kids. Once you have a topic, help your students practice these tips. Then they will be great public speakers and listeners in no time!