Updated: Sep 13
When you see job applicants with competitive debating on their CV, what is your first impression? Good at arguing? Intimidating? Let’s debunk what debaters do and how they can help your team’s performance.
So... What do debaters do?
In competitive debating, the ultimate objective is to persuade the judge to vote for your side. To win over the other team(s), debaters often do the following:
Define the keywords in the motion
Identify the problem hinted by the motion
Identify the yardsticks of success
Propose a solution to address the problem
Identify the key stakeholders
Explain how the solution-proposed maximize benefits
Mitigate the arguments from the opposing team(s)
Compare and contrast the views from opposing team(s)
Explain why the ideas from our side are better and more important
How can debaters boost the team's performance?
Analyzing what debaters do in competitive debating, we can expect debaters are:
Debaters are sensitive to what is happening in our world to tackle a wide range of motions. That is because every motion links to a societal problem/phenomenon with certain harms. We are used to coming up with potential solutions (i.e., models) to resolve the issues. When debaters are given a task, we are likely to dig deeply into the problem that the job is trying to fix. For example, getting to know what the clients' needs are or what dilemma the team is facing. We target the cruxes of the issue. Often, we may propose alternative solutions too. This would embark more discussions on what to do and how to do it. Even though that may take up slightly more time, we try to ensure that we do engage directly with the core concerns of our clients.
2. Goal Setters
Without a clearly defined success metric, it is difficult for the judge to decide which side wins over the other side. That is why debaters are trained to set goals and yardsticks. When you hire a debater in your team, they are likely to ensure that everyone is clear about the project's end goals. Goals are essential for three reasons:
They give team members a clear objective
They help to measure the process
They motivate team members
With clear goals and objectives, your team will execute the project more effectively because everyone shares the same focus by motivated members and the plan can be monitored along the way.
Debaters love analyzing. We analyze the status quo, the alternatives, the key stakeholders involved, the metric, the justifications... We ultimately try to answer three questions:
Is the claim valid?
Is the argument relevant?
Is the analysis critical?
We also adopt a wide range of techniques for analysis purposes. Just to name a few:
When we interact with your team, we contribute by analyzing the ideas systematically but in different layers and perspectives. This would be hugely beneficial to the planning and analysis stages, which is crucial to the success of a project. That is because these two stages are the cornerstones that guide the direction of the rest of the project.
Are debaters intimidating?
The reason why many people are intimidated after knowing we debate competitively is that "we are good at taking people's points down." However, disputing is just one of the many techniques we use to make our case more persuasive. From my personal experience with my debate friends, I rarely see one keeping their "debate mode" on during socials and other casual events. Most of us know the boundaries between debating competitively and having an everyday life. At the end of the day, we are still people who try to live our life to the best. That being said, scaring people off is one of the last things we want to do.