Extra-curricular activities are important for developing a good resume. Students participate in a range of activities to add brownie points to their skills, and one of the most popular activities is debating. Most universities across the globe run debating clubs or societies which invite candidates for membership, organize intra university contests, and send representatives for inter-university contests. Debating skills are consequential to your merit irrespective of which field of study and universities acknowledge that.
Debating, like any other activity, requires more than just a flair for speaking confidently. There is a world of things you must work on if you intend to improve your abilities and perform better in debate contests in and outside the university. Keep a tab on the things I have mentioned here in this article and you shall be fine.
- Overcome Stage Fright
Many students have the fear of stage. The moment they climb up the stage to speak, they end up hesitating or sweating. This is very normal and it happens to even the most skilled debaters in the world. Nervousness before a stage performance is normal because you are going to address an audience. You will not overcome stage fright overnight; it takes consistent exposure to public speaking. If you are serious about overcoming stage fright, you must never step away from an opportunity to step on the stage and speak. If you don’t want to fear the stage, conquer the stage. The more you stay on the stage, the more control you will command on yourself.
- Develop a Coping Mechanism
In a follow-up to the first tip, you must consider developing a coping mechanism to handle the on-stage stress. For example, I fixate my vision at a far corner of the room and begin my arguments with my attention focussed on that corner. Once I get a hold of myself, I return to the audience. It is a to and fro process. Similarly, you can craft your own mechanism. You may bring along a small plushie to compress then and now to channelize your stress. Or, you can imagine the audience being a gathering of mules—a friend of mine does that, and he says it works marvelously.
- Read, Read, Read
Debating is definitely about how you speak, but it is equally about what you speak. Learning is a continuous process and debating is all about learning. Read as much as you can. Stay updated with the current affairs, read articles, opinions, and hold informal discussions with your friends and batchmates. The more you read, the more substance you will add to your arguments. A good debater does not talk in abstract language; he focuses on stating facts and using them to his advantage.
- Understand the format of the debate
If you are participating in a debate contest, read and understand its format. There are many formats of debates: Asian parliamentary debate, parliamentary debate, turncoat debate, etc. Each format has a different set of rules and requires different ways of arguing. Make sure you read through the rules and prepare accordingly. Your performance will be affected if you are reckless about the same.
- Reaction is different from response
If you are one of those people with a strong emotional responsive mechanism, then you will tread far away from sportsmanship. A debate is about disagreements, and which of these disagreements are stronger is a matter of the opinion of the judge. Your points may be not preferred at all. You can lose. Moreover, you may not find the points of the other team acceptable. In all these situations, you must maintain your temper. It is a competition, not a fight. Understand the difference. Failing to do so, you will be anything but a good debater.
- Do not Lose track
Debating is a strenuous activity. Even those who are most passionate about debating will tell you how much mental effort is needed to do it. In the course of debating, therefore, it is not uncommon to find participants deviate from the main theme of the argument and talk about ancillary matters. You lose points for doing that. Moreover, judges would notice that you are trying to deflect attention or buy time. Try to make your arguments relevant—and you can only do that unless you deviate from the theme.