Creative commentary plus crafty composition

Debate Do’s & Don’ts

We have seen, perhaps participated in, debates in one format or another over the years. (I can recollect my first was while a youngster in school.) In the political arena this has become a vital part of the election process.

As we get older, and especially if the stakes get higher, we should expect to incorporate life experiences or lessons to handle ourselves more effectively. Making a positive connection while speaking is paramount to feeling confident and performing better, whatever the stage.

Of course, this implies there are behaviours we should avoid if we don’t want to undercut our bearing and impact.

Here are some Dos and Don’ts when it comes to debating:

  • DO put on a degree of feel good, sartorial splendour; DON’T go for the informal, airy hospital gown look
  • DO check out your speaking area and microphone beforehand; DON’T throw tacks on the other side of the floor or put glue on the lectern of your opponent(s)
  • DO greet your opponent(s) with a smile and a handshake; DON’T include handing out a gift card(s) for unsightly hair removal
  • DO be respectful of the moderator’s questions; DON’T contort your responses to leave the questions choking on dust
  • DO speak in a clear, articulate manner; DON’T substitute bombastic non-sequiturs or frenetic hyperbole
  • DO listen to assertions of your opponent(s), and respond with reason; DON’T listen and respond with a trail of made up facts
  • DO be aware that your body language sends messages; DON’T assume you can be effective by imitating Morse code
  • DO remember there is an audience on which you are trying to make a positive impression; DON’T try to overwhelm attendees with verbal effluence
  • DO respect time limitations on responses; DON’T pretend time stands still when you are speaking
  • DO pace yourself to handle a mental marathon; DON’T act like an inquisitor from MARATHON MAN


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