As we are quickly approaching a new school year and a new debate season, there are some vital skills students will want to brush up on. Spending some time in these last few weeks of summer to hone in your debate skills will serve you well. Whether you are trying out for the team or returning as a seasoned vet, you will need to bring your A game. Below are a list of skills all debaters should spend some time practicing and thinking about before the school year begins.
Critical thinking is a vital part of every debaters tool belt. To argue any side of a topic, you will need to have sharp critical thinking skill. You can practice word puzzles, solve complex word problems, or critique a book or movie plot. No matter what, thinking about all sides of a particular topic will help you succeed.
All debaters know that the key to a strategic debate depends on your note taking abilities. You need to take accurate notes of what the opposing team says and be able to come up with a counter-argument on the fly. If you have struggled with note taking in the past, take some time to practice. You can watch debates on youtube and take notes during, then rewatch the debate and see if there was anything you missed.
Persuasion is another skill you will need to harness before the new school year. To practice persuasion, try to convince your parents to let you do or buy something they have said is not necessary for you to have – within reason. Come up with a strong argument for why you need to go to that concert or get a new phone and see if you can persuade them. Even if they say no, the practice was well worth it!
Clear communication is another essential debate skill. You need to be able to get your point across in a manner that is easy to understand for both the opposition and the judges. Spend time thinking very hard about the things you say to people and how you say them. If someone, at any point, doesn’t quite get what you’re saying – stop and try to figure out why!
Finally, problem-solving is the biggest skill you should continuously sharpen. You will be in situations where the opposition comes up with an argument you have not thought about before. Knowing how to handle this new situation under pressure and coming up with a solution (counter argument) is vital to your team’s success. Do brain teasers daily and try to expand your mind to think in different ways. The more ways you can think about one problem, the better chance you will have of solving it.