Debating Skills: 3 tips from our latest workshop

Mental Agility: One important skill is being able to argue a position that you may not personally agree with. In our first debate we asked children to decide their viewpoint on whether or not self-learning AI should be developed. We then directed a few of them to argue the opposite. This skill encourages searching for opposite viewpoints and considering and assessing every side of an argument – a useful skill when trialling new ideas, preparing school essays, or working in teams.

What to do when you have a ‘mental blank’: Our advice in this session was simply to go on to the next point, rather than allowing the silence to lengthen and then panic as the audience tensely waits. We provide a supportive and friendly environment, where children can experience the pitfalls of public speaking and practise techniques to get past them.

Body Language: We looked at the importance of eye contact in this session. When making a point, it is important to address the audience, rather than the tutor/facilitator, or down at your notes. Our actor, Seb, ran an exercise to increase awareness of body language, where participants had to act out some of the positive qualities that you would want from a speaker, and then some of the negative ones to avoid, as they put forward their points.