Debate is part of civil discourse; it allows for airing various viewpoints about topics ranging from politics to religion. The keys to a successful debate are respect and civility. Dale Deloney stresses the importance of seeing different perspectives as opportunities to grow and learn. Too often, people shut out conflicting ideas, worried they will cause turmoil, but realistically, a different point of view can open the door to a deeper understanding of your position.
However, being receptive is not the only essential of debate; you also need to know how to structure and establish your argument. It is not enough to stand in front of a crowd proclaiming authority. Where’s your evidence? What is the relevance of your topic?
Debate Strategy According to Dale Deloney
People have less of a stomach for civil debate than they once did. Today, when a person expresses an unpopular opinion, society automatically vilifies the individual. It is no longer enough for a person to stand up and speak. You cannot say that you believe something because it sounds right to you or because your family believes it. Society now expects evidence-backed opinions; everything must have a reason.
Before you enter a debate, organized or otherwise, prepare. Take the necessary time to research your position. Survey a prospective audience or schedule a community meeting to discuss your findings. Dale Deloney urges all people taking on a debate to know personal blind spots and try to debunk evidence before sticking to arguments in public.
While performing research, provide proof in the form of data from legitimate sources. Your opinion is excellent for one-on-one chats, but it means very little in a debate.
While some people in the room might understand the topic, perhaps they are experts in a particular field, not all audience members will have the same level of education or experience. Create comparisons and analogies that can help simplify the dialogue, allowing all listeners to connect and learn from the process.
Maintaining flexibility during the debate is also important. While debate prep might give you an idea of how the other side will argue, Dale Deloney suggests that flexibility helps you maintain control in a high-pressure situation.
Debate Is About Seeking Truth and Common Ground
While it might seem strange, debate is not entirely about argument. Yes, the skills of rhetoric are largely at play in every debate forum, but the arguments are for a purpose.
Debates make the viewer think about their worldview and question it. The forum allows for civility and a coming together of the minds. In the grand scheme, debate is about truth-seeking and evidence-based opinion.
According to Dale Deloney, organized debate establishes civil discourse, giving differing viewpoints a chance to share the spotlight. With mutual respect, even vocal opponents can find common ground.