Choose an issue to debate that the group has different opinions on. It could be ideas for next term’s sessions, a local issue, or a hot topic in the national media. You could choose the topic as part of an earlier session, giving the group different options to choose from.
Roles and structure
Choose one person to chair the debate and one person to present a motion setting out what they think should happen. The presenter starts by explaining the motion, the chair should give them a time limit, say 3 minutes. Everyone else can then raise their hands to speak for or against the motion. It’s the Chair’s job to remember the order in which people put up their hands, and make sure they get a fair chance to speak. When everyone who wants to speak has had a chance the Chair should give the presenter the ‘right of reply’ so they can answer any questions or criticism raised. Finally, the chair asks everyone to vote for or against the motion with raised hands.
Check in with the group about how it went. Did anyone change their mind about how they would vote as a result of the arguments put forward in the debate? What were the most successful tactics people used? What was less pursuasive?
How and when do people use these sorts of skills and tactics in day to day life? How and when could you use them to get your voice heard?
Take it further
If you have enjoyed learning some debating skills and thinking about getting your voice heard, you could explore British Youth Council and get involved in their work.