Oh, I Do Like a Good Debate!

IMG_5862In Toastmasters we are accustomed to delivering most of our speeches without interruption.  As David Calder (a member of Haymarket Toastmasters) and I found out last week that isn’t the case in organised debates!

We were kindly invited by Edinburgh Junior Chambers International (JCI) to join them in a good ole debate – our respective speaking skills were to be pitted against each other.

Two teams of three were formed.  David and I joined a team captained by Patrick Hughes to speak ‘Against’ the motion that “Scotland Deserves A Better Capital City Than Edinburgh”.  The dedicated JCI team of Dan, Ken and Amy were speaking ‘For’ the motion.

After 10 minutes planning time we decided what were our strongest arguments, who was going to say them and roughly in what order.

The respective captains then stood up in turn to deliver a 3 minute opening statement, setting out the main points that would be made by the team and seeking to quash counter arguments before they were even stated!

The speech craft skills of the captains in this endeavour were impressive.  The scene was set for an interesting, intellectual and oratory challenge.

Team members then speak in turn for 2 minutes.  Easy, I thought.We practise 2 minute impromptu speeches known as Table Topics at Toastmasters and here I was with some preparation time.

What I hadn’t fully prepared for, although I had been warned, was that after 30 seconds into the speech, the other team could interject with ‘Points of Information’ (challenges), which you could accept or decline.

If declined, you would look weak.  If accepted, the opposing team’s point would be made and then you had to address that point as well as getting your other arguments across.

I was certainly no match for Amy, who on several occasions pounced on me like a little terrier biting at my trouser legs, shaking me about a bit and not letting go!!

After 1 minute 30 seconds I had some respite as no more challenges are allowed in the last 30 seconds – I was back in my comfort zone, able to say what I wanted, in silence, without interruption.  David too put up a valiant performance and enjoyed the challenge.

It certainly stretches your off- the-cuff speaking and it is all conducted in a good, light hearted spirit.

After the 2 minute closing statements from the captains normally there is a vote from the audience, but on this occasion they called it an amicable draw.

Very gracious and very generous –they gave all the participants some refreshments of the grape variety.  I definitely needed a drink.

So I was pleased that JCI follow the Waverley Communicators custom of inviting members and guests to the pub afterwards – I had no argument with that motion!!

JCI Edinburgh is a self-development organisation for people in their twenties and thirties, who offer a stimulating range of activities to enable members to develop communication, presentation, leadership, project management, networking and business skills. Further details can be found at: http://jciedinburgh.org.uk/

Post written by Brian Duffy

IPP Waverley Communicators

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