Tuesday, May 29, 2007

the use of "intimidation" in debate

When debaters feel competitive they usually employ the power of "intimidation" on their opponents. This is done on the belief that a debate is started not on stage but backstage or when you come face-to-face with your opponents for the first time.

In one inter-school debate we had participated, the debaters were asked to stay in one room about an hour before the debate started for briefing and clarification of debate rules. The debaters were introduced to each other and they got to "see" and even speak with their opponents. One of my debaters was really nervous to meet her opponent who looked like he had read all the books in the world because of his thick scholarly glasses. She later on learned that those glasses were gradeless and only served as "prop" to give him that "look". Indeed the debater on the opposing side succeeded in intimidating one of my debaters.

In order to avoid these tricky traps debaters use to make the other side feel "inferior", let us try to walk through the different things that intimidate debaters:

1. the look

Do not be deceived by looks. Thick glasses? Earnest facial expressions? Big books? nice suit?Most likely, he or she is just trying to cover up what she does not have in there. Good looks, fair skin, height, beauty----they have nothing to do with debating skills, relax. We are notlooking for a Miss Universe here but good debaters.
2. big voice

This one really intimidates. If your voice sounds like the squeak of a baby rat and youropponent's voice registers like a lion's roar, you can be in trouble. Work on your volume.Take advantage of the microphone, project your voice, speak with a punch.

3. many sources---books, magazines

This can be tricky. The piles of books could either represent the bulk of their research or they are there only for display. A good debater does not take chances. He or she preparesthrough extensive reading and research.

Again, if you are prepared, nothing can shake you ---- not even looks, books, or voice.

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