Debate 101

Posted at June 09, 2021 by Bryan Henry

Debate, activity that has a simple concept of two sides that will face each other to prove each of their arguments. But in the execution, this concept may not be simple as it seems. Therefore, this article will help you to explore through the lens and expound some meaningful aspects from debate! But, before going any further, let’s take a look at these types of debate. 

1. Parliamentary or Assembly Debate

This type of debate happens in executive, legislative, or judicative levels of a state. This type of debate usually discuss about law, state’s policy or things that related to state administration.

2. Cross-Examination Debate

This type of debate is done to recheck and find the truth or fact from the previous inspection. This type of debate contains many questions that are related to defend each other side’s position. Usually this type of debate is found at the court between attorney and lawyer.

3. Formal, Conventional, or Educational Debate

This type of debate is to improve and widen the knowledge between two sides in terms of explaining their argument as logic, clear, and structured as possible.

After knowing several types of debate, let’s move on to its aspect. In this article we are going to elaborate each role from participant, judging, motion, argument, rebuttal, and scoring criteria.

1. Participant

In debate, participants are called debaters consist of 2 teams that will face each other. The first team are called affirmative or government team, this team will be supporting or confirming the topic of the motion. The second team is called opposition team, this team will oppose the motion. Each team will consist of 3 debaters.

2. Judging

In debate, number of judges always in an odd number to prevent “draw” situations. Judges in debate are called adjudicator. There are also chairperson or moderator who will lead the debate and timekeeper to track time. Usually the standard duration given to each debater is 7 minutes.

3. Motion

In debate, the topic that will be debated between 2 teams is called motion. The motion can only be defined by the affirmative team, while the opposition team have the right to agree or against the motion. If the opposition agree with the motion, the debate will proceed with the given motion, but if the opposition team deny or against the motion, they have to challenge the current motion and give a new correct motion, this act is called challenge definition.

4. Argument

Each debate argument must contain “A-R-E-L”. A represent Assertion which means a sentence that consists of a statement of the argument. R represent Reasoning which means reasons that support the argument. E represent Evidence which means proof or evidence that supports argument. And lastly, L represent Link back which means sentence that link back the main discussion (theme line).

5. Rebuttal

Rebuttal is a statement to refuse the opponent’s main argument. Usually rebuttal is based on error facts, irrelevant proof, and illogical matters. Point of Information (POI) is used when declaring rebuttal.

6. Scoring Aspect or Criteria

There are 3 aspects that will be considered as scoring criteria, they are:

  • Manner (40%)

Manner covers several other things, such as delivery (how arguments delivered), vocal style, language usage, notes usage, eye contact, gesture, stance, clothing, humor, and personal attack on opponents.

  • Matter (40%)

Matter will determine whether the materials or arguments delivered is relevant, meaningful, and logical enough or not.

  • Method (20%)

Methods consist of structure and organization which will determine the sequence, structure, and systematic when a team deliver the argument, lastly method also cover whether the team overtime or undertime when responding to opponent’s argument.

In general, debate is an activity that involves 2 sides (pros or cons). The main purpose of debate is to find the best answer to acknowledge and indicate factuality towards the topic (motion) between 2 team’s arguments based on fact. A good and structured debate can be very beneficial for you because it improves your focus, critical thinking, and problem solving.


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