Prime Minister

I explain the role of the first speaker in this format. There are 3 main responsibilities, to Define and Set-Up the Debate, to Present the Team Position and Case and to Make 1 or 2 Arguments.

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Questions and Answers on the Role of the Prime Minister
Activities in Class or Training Exercises
Example of this Role

Brief Notes on this Lecture 

The Prime Minister is the first person to speak in the Asian Parlimentary format. This is a very important speech as it defines the entire debate. This speech should lay down the groundwork for the entire debate and deliver the most important ideas. There are 3 important parts to this speech

A) Define and Set-Up the debate

  • What do you define? How words will be understood in this debate. You don't have to define every word, but words that might be misunderstood or words that have multiple meanings. Pretend you are the opposition and ask yourself what might confuse you. Don't provide dictionary definitions, but tell everyone how the word will be understood in the debate. Tell them what you mean, what you Don't mean, give them a similar meaning and give them an example.
  • set-up – how, where this debate will happen. What is the context? This is important because this is how the arguments will be evaluated. You need to explain why this debate is important, give some limites to the debate and answer any questions the other team or audience or judge might have.

B) Present Team Position and Case

  • What are you defending? What will you prove and not prove? Do you have a specific policy? Your position is your overall beliefs. Your case is a collection of your arguments, policy and theme.
  • What will you talk about and what will your second speaker talk about?

C) Make 1 or 2 Arguments

  • The first speaker must present the most important arguments. Do not save the best for last.


Transcript - Video Lecture on the Role of the Prime Minister

Now we are going to talk about the roles and responsibilities of each speaker in the team. Debating and especially in the Asian Parliamentary format is a team sport. Teams compete against other teams. And just like in any other team persuasion activity like a team presentation, each speaker has a specific role and responsibility. It's important to realize at the start that these are guidelines, these are not rules. It doesn't mean that if you don't do one of these things you will automatically lose the debate. However these guidelines are created in order to give you the most amount of efficiency when persuading. They will help you function as a team more effectively, and persuade more efficiently. 

So the speakers in the teams all have a specific kind of name or notation, in order to I guess, role play a little bit and make it more interesting. So in the Government team, the first speaker is called the Prime Minister (PM). And his or her second speaker is the Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and then the Government Whip (GW). In the Opposition the first speaker is the Leader of Opposition, followed by the Deputy Leader of Opposition (DLO) and the Opposition whip. I'm sure you see a pattern forming here.

We're going to talk about these roles in the order in which they will speak in the debate. The first speaker of the government first, the PM, and then the LO and then the DPM, DLO and so on. Let's look at the PM.

Now, as the first speaker of the debate, you have three essential things that you must do. Firstly you must define and set-up the debate, secondly you need to present your team's position and the team's case and thirdly you must make 1 or 2 arguments. Let's look at those things in turn.

Defining and Setting Up the debate. Both teams have a topic, the first speaker's job is to tell them how we are going to - or tell everyone rather - how we are going to define the topic. How we are going to use this topic in this debate. Now you should take the most literal and straight forward definition, but sometimes there can be words that need additional clarification, to help people know how they are going to be understood, in this debate. This does not mean you have to give the dictionary definition of every word. But you need to tell people how your team is going to understand and apply some of the words. 

For example, if the topic is "that we would ban smoking in the university campus", teams perhaps don't need to explain what smoking is, if everyone knows what smoking is. Smoking cigarettes, whatever's legally defined as smoking. But they might need to say what they exactly mean by ban and how they are going regulate. They might need to say also where is the boundary of the university campus. Are they talking about buildings, surrounding area of the buildings or over the fence. Not clarifying these issues at the start could lead to confusion. So you have to define the debate in a way that does not lead to confusion. You cannot define the debate in a overly narrow or small way, in order to give yourself too much of an advantage, because there still needs to be a debate. 

You also need to set-up the debate. Now setting-up the debate means, well just like setting up a stage, you are going to tell people what are the things they need to know in order for this debate to happen. That means giving them a context, why is this debate important? What is the background to this issue? Tell people how this debate is to be evaluated? So in this same example, I might say that there is a big problem, there is a rise of younger problem smoking, it's been very difficult to clamp down, a problem with littering and second smoking and so on so forth and what we want to do is to address and solve this problems. So that is defining the debate, and setting-up the debate. These things are important to create clarity, to avoid confusion and to help people decide how to evaluate the debate.

The second thing you would do as Prime Minister is present your Position and your Team's Case. The Position is how we are going to approach this debate. What do we believe in, what are we going to prove? And what is my team going to do? So do we believe that people need to have rights limited? Are we trying regulate people? What is our position and you present your case. Case means the arguments of the entire team. This means having to present your team's split. So what am I going to talk about, and what my second speaker is going to talk about. This makes your entire case more easily understood by the other team and most importantly by the judges and the audience. 

Sometimes teams will have a policy or a plan. The 3 things we are going to do, we are going to this, and going to do that and going to this. So you are going to explain in detail how you are going to implement your solution. That also needs to come out int his part, when you are presenting you position and case

The final thing the PM will do is present arguments, so the first reason and the second reason. And then you will summarize and close your speech, and emphasize what is important.

So brief recap - 3 things the PM must do - he or she must define and set up the debate, he or she must present a position, their team's position and their team's case - which could sometimes include a policy, and finally he or she must present one or two arguments.

Watch an example and see if this person does all of those things