Think of the debate as not only the exposition of fact and
an investigative activity, but also as a persuasive discourse "in
Keep in mind the Pillars of Persuasion:
Pathos - emotion
Logos - logic
(includes knowledge-systems, symbol-systems, signs)
Ethos - tone (includes the credibility, believability,
and appropriateness of the speaker and/or the mode of delivery)
If you think of this as a kind of theater, or as though you were
watching yourself in a kind of pageant (or as Guy DeBord puts it,
as a "spectacle"), then you may have more insight on how to manage
the order and presentation of the various aspects of your case.
As a presentation that revolves around the presentation of material
by various individuals (actors), it is important to realize that
they are, in essence, enacting roles, and the audience will respond
to them in the way they have been guided or coached to respond to
them. For that reason, it is vital to keep the presentation
high-impact, which requires individuals to maintain separate and
instantly understandable roles. The cast of characters for this
particular debate can be shaped around the roles described below.
Format for Debate
PRO -- in favor of the issue
CON -- against the issue
MEDIA -- questions both sides
PRO team -- 10 references per group
CON team -- 10 references per group
MEDIA team -- 5 references PRO, 5 references CON
*Include Bibliography page for our references, with 1/3-1/2 page
description for each reference.
Opening - 10 minutes
PRO - 5 minutes per person in both groups = 25 minutes
CON - 5 minutes per person in both groups
= 25 minutes
Closing - 10 minutes
Press asks questions
Each individual writes a 1-2 page response to the debate, and their
final analysis of the issue after contemplating all sides, plus
the press's questions
One-sentence overview - should be direct, with lots of impact
Three major reasons WHY this position is desirable
Brief overview of each
debate team member & presentation to the audience
Expert Testimony (Expert)
Testimonials - Emotional Appeal (The Emotor)
Tell impassioned story
Describe emotional impact on family, friends
Show huge picture of victim
Community Builder: Who Benefits? Who Loses? (The Community
Make audience members stakeholders; pull them into the community
Describe impact on community
Show maps; before-after scenes
Jobs & Schools
Concessions to the other side, with refutations (The Compromiser)
Looks at opposition's points & concedes that there may be some
Shows the half-truths in the opposition's assertions
Summary / Conclusions (Spokeperson)
One sentence overview
Major emotional reason why NOT, with "evidence" support
II. Testimonial / Case Studies (The Expert)
III. Statistics (The Emotor)
IV. Alternate Community View (The Community Builder)
V. Paint scenario of what might happen if PRO wins (Expert)
-- Doomsday scenario (fear) (Emotor); Concedes points, but refutes
them at the same time (The Compromiser)
VI. Summary / Conclusions (Spokesperson)
Expose underlying assumptions & demonstrate how shaky they are
Question validity of statistics, evidence, case studies, testimonials
Undermine biased arguments
Impugn credibility of testimonials
Question character of general spokesperson and/or "face" person
Impugn credibility of the expert
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Spokesperson: Fair-minded, calm, and clearly
able to communicate the primary points. This should be a person
who projects a likable persona, who will make the audience feel
both comfortable and confident regarding the content and the entire
The Expert: A serious person, "all business," who doggedly investigates
statistics, facts, and figures, with a relentlessness usually reserved
only for nerds and academicians. Can be slightly eccentric.
Can be absent-minded, but never with respect to the numbers.
Carries around piles of books, papers, reports, documents.
The Emotor: A highly sympathetic person, who fervently presents
the human side of the issue, and tells a story of a person or persons
who have been affected.
The Community Builder:
A warm executive type, with soul. A highly connected person
who sees the big picture, who works hard to bring jobs and opportunities
to community members, but who can be a bit overly protective if
he/she perceives that something will be harmful to the community
businesses, individuals, groups, and future stakeholders.
The Compromiser: Soft-spoken, thoughtful, deliberative, willing to look at all
sides, concerned with justice and ethics, then makes conclusion.
Comes across as something of a worrier, perhaps too deliberative,
but all the same, very credible and ethical.
Should our state set up workshops (participants to receive
free safety glasses, respirators, equipment, etc.) in rural areas
on safe handling of chemicals (avoid some of the ghastly accidents
and environmental issues with do-it-yourself meth labs)?
Should we expand the patriot act in order to put video surveillance
in every home where people fit a certain profile?
Should PetSmart set up a research center to genetically engineer
animals so that they are more unique
Do reptilian aliens exist?
Should we put the ten commandments in every school and courthouse
in the southern U.S.?
Should we set up English-only schools and communities in the
Should we establish dress codes (or requiring uniforms) in
Should all students be required to take a course in comparative
religion (from an Islamic perspective) taught by an Imam?
Should the U.S. eliminate the electoral college?