It is an old cliché that communication is the key to success, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Few professionals can survive in their posts for very long without mastering the art of ‘the pitch’ and many pay through the nose just to overcome their fear of public speaking as the day of a big presentation approaches, but why?

The best advice on how to speak in public has been out there for centuries encased in the works of Aristotle and the history of Demosthenes. All you really need to do is practice those skills by putting them to the test in front of an audience of your peers. In other words, you need to re-discover debating, a unique form of argument that combines deductive reasoning with factual argument and rhetoric.

Why debating?

  • Evaluation and persuasion – deductive reasoning enables us to distinguish a good idea from a bad one, while factual argument and rhetoric help us to persuade others of the virtues of those ideas
  • Confidence – proving to ourselves we have the ability to make our case and pass the test of collective scrutiny within a supportive environment gives us the confidence to assert ourselves in the wider world
  • Consensus – the main reason a speakers fails to persuade their audience is by ignoring their comments or not answering their questions; successful speakers address the concerns of their audience and incorporate their best ideas into their own presentation

What makes a good debater?
Some people are naturally confident. Some are naturally talkative. No-one is born a good debater. Charm, confidence, and charisma are just the icing on the cake. The foundation of debating is structure, content, and technique. These skills are acquired through education and practice, which means anyone can do it if they’re willing to put in the effort.

Where can you go to take part in a debate?
Anywhere! All you need is a room and a group of people willing to listen and participate. There is nothing stopping you from setting up your very own debate club tomorrow. I know this to be true because it is exactly what I did when I founded the Central London Debating Society three years ago. If you live in London also, visit the London Debating Hub to see what public debates are taking place near your area in the coming weeks. If none are, then you know what to do. Start your own and if it takes off, let me know and I will add your club to the Hub so others can find you too.

Tony Koutsoumbos is the CEO of CLDS Debate Training Ltd

Tony is running a FREE workshop on how to set up your own debate club on Wednesday November 28 in central London. You can find out the details and sign up for it here today.

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