Debate Format

A) Format

Format is a plan or structure that will guide your debate. If debate is a game, format is the rules. Formats are important because they ensure fairness (balance the time and responsibility of both the teams and all the speakers) and provide a guide to determine the winner of the debate.

There are many different debate formats (you can even create your own!) but all formats have

  • A topic

  • Restrictions on time

  • What speakers can and cannot do in a speech

  • Different teams and sides

But remember, formats are a very small part of the debate, these are the only absolute rules that you will have in a debate!

 

All-Asian Parliamentary Debate Format

Format

  • Usually 3 topics will be provided and the teams will have to choose one between them. The topic is sometimes called the “motion”. Motions usually start with the words “This House...”, which refers to the history of parliamentary debate – the House of Parliament.

  • There are two teams in every debate, the Government and Opposition. The Government must defend the topic and the Opposition must oppose the topic. Each team has 3 people.

  • Each speaker has 7 minutes to speak. The Government team speaks first, followed by the opposition team. After all 6 speakers have spoken, each team can give one more concluding speech, called a reply speech. This is given by either the first or second speaker of each time and is 4 minutes long.

  • Between the 1st and 6th minute of each speech (except the reply speech) speakers from the opposing side can offer questions to the person speaking. The person speaking can choose when to accept a question, and should accept at least one question during his or her speech. Only once the person speaking has accepted the question, the speaker on the other side may ask the question. The question should be short. There will be knocks or claps to represent the minutes (1 clap at 1 and 6, two at 7).

 

B) Roles

Debate is a team sport. For a team to win a debate and effectively persuade their audience, each speaker has to fulfill his or her responsibilities. Here is a guideline of what each speakers responsibilities are (however, these are NOT rules. These are what is the Best Thing to do when persuading in a team, so it is something you can do whenever you are persuading in a team)

 

Government

Opposition

(PM) Prime Minister

(LO) Leader of Opposition

(DPM) Deputy Prime Minister

(DLO) Deputy Leader of Opposition

(GW) Government Whip

(OW) Opposition Whip

(GR) Government Reply

(OR) Opposition Reply

Order of speeches : PM > LO > DPM > DLO > GW > OW > OR > GR

Government

Opposition

(PM) Prime Minister

  • Define the debate

  • Outline the gov case

  • Develop 1-2 constructive points

(LO) Leader of Opposition

  • Accept definition or else redefine

  • Outline the opp case

  • Rebut the gov case

  • Develop 1-2 constructive points

(DPM) Deputy Prime Minister

  • Reaffirm your team stance

  • Defend the PM’s constructive matter

  • Rebut the LO’s case

  • Develop 1-2 new constructive points

(DLO) Deputy Leader of Opposition

  • Reaffirm your team stance

  • Defend the LO

  • Rebut the DPM and PM

  • Develop 1-2 new constructive points

(GW) Government Whip

  • Reaffirm the team stance

  • Defend the DPM and your team case

  • Rebut the DLO

  • Organize the key issues/question/clashes

  • Summarize & reaffirm the team stance split

(OW) Opposition Whip

  • Reaffirm the team stance

  • Defend the DLO and your team case

  • Organize the key issues/question/clashes

  • Summarize & reaffirm the team stance split

( G/OR) Government/Opposition Reply

  • Organize and summarize the issues and/or dynamics of the debate, with commentary on why your side should win. This include reaffirming your own team’s case and rebutting the other team’s case within the overall context of the debate. But don’t get tied up in specific rebuttal points