Choosing a Debate Format
Other than the academic level, debate formats should also be considered when deciding on a topic. When choosing the format, consider the audience and course objectives – some formats, like the persuasive format, will help students develop their ability to give presentations where they have to sell an idea to the audience.
Likewise, argumentative formats develop the students’ negotiating skills. In contrast, controversial formats allow students to grow used to discussing subjects that might not be popular or comfortable. In the next section, we’ll take a look at these formats.
As the name suggests, the main goal of persuasive debate topics is to persuade the audience. These topics have to involve a subject or problem that people care about and must also be something that all debaters are personally interested and knowledgeable in.
When preparing for a persuasive debate, participants must study the subject carefully and compose a powerful base of facts and arguments to prove their opinion’s validity.
Argumentative debates cover certain problems, issues, subjects, or phenomena that can be deliberated. When choosing these topics, debaters must prepare study materials, do comprehensive research, and pick arguments from reliable sources to support their ideas.
Controversial debates are characterized by topics that are challenging for the debaters. They generally discuss powerful and relevant issues that have plenty of room for deliberation. These topics may have two or more totally different public opinions.
Therefore, they also assume intensive and prolonged public discussion. Good controversial debates bring up different opinions amongst the people and forces them to ask questions that cannot have a single answer.
The three formats discussed above are different in nature and purpose. However, irrelevant of the format that you choose, you should follow these rules when determining an appropriate topic:
1. Must be something the debaters and the audience personally care about.
2. Must be relevant.
3. Must not be too narrow or too broad.
4. Must be interesting.
5. Debaters must be able to collect sufficient supporting materials.
6. Must have value.