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British parliamentary debate format

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# of people in the debate: 8

# of people in a team: 2

# of teams in the debate: 4 

Duration of the speeches: 5 or 7 minutes

Questions format: Points of information

Short description:The teams are divided into the “government” – affirmative and “opposition” – negative. The first two team, also called the first table start the debate, the second table teams have to extend the debate on a different level. This is also called extending the debate. The motions are normally plan motions, that means that the government has to propose a plan or a change in the policy. The adjudicators decide on the argumentation and style, also mostly important is the role fulfillment.

Used in: University student debate in the Europe and elsewhere. Europeans and Worlds are organized every year.

Asian Parliamentary Debate format

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This article has been rewritten. It now features a short description of the format, and then you can find a transcript of a longer lecture, if you would like to hear details about the Asian Parliamentary debate format. Don’t forget to Like this page!

# of people in the debate: 6
# of people in a team: 3
# of teams in the debate: 2

Duration of the speeches: Constructive and whip speeches 7 minutes, replies 4 minutes

Questions format: Points of information

This debate format is mainly used in the Asia (news Sherlock :D) and is also the basics of the World schools debate format.

The speakers speak in the following order:
Prime minister
Leader of opposition
Deputy prime minister
Deputy leader of opposition
Government whip
Opposition whip

All these speeches are seven minutes long. Prime minister presents the case, Leader of opp presents its own arguments and rebuttals the gov’s, Deputy PM has also his own argument(s) and makes some rebuttal, of course he/she should not forget that she has to speak about the arguments of the PM and reafirm them. Deputy leader of opp has the same task, meaning new argument(s), rebuttal, own previous arguments. The government whip is allowed to present “new matter” but is advised not to, and the opp whip is not allowed to do that.

Now follow two reply speeches,  first the oppositional and then the governmental reply. The speeches are given by the first or the second speaker from each side. The speeches should focus on the great ideas, arguments, clashes in the debate and present them.

Lecture on the Asian Parliamentary Debate Format

Today we are going to talk about a format of a debate. Debate is basically a structured discussion. So you have some debate formats, that are more open, like a presidential debate, or a town hall debate, where groups of people debate against each other or you have debate formats, that are far more structured. They carefully tell you how much time each person has to speak and so on. Every format has some kind of rules, because those rules serve to preserve order, and try to create some balance. The rules don’t really determine who wins and loses a debate. Debating is not about the rules. The rules are there to create balance, to tell people how much time they have to speak and so on. So in every debate format there will be some direction about the topics, about the timing, about the speaking order and maybe some stuff about the judging criteria, about how do you decide which team wins and which team loses.
Today we are going to focus on the Asian Parliamentary debate Format. This is a format that is widely used in Asia, among University and High School students and I think is a good format. I am going to talk about the teams and the order of speakers, about timing and talk about topic selection and finally talk about points of information.


Teams and speaking order in Asian Parliamentary

First let’s talk about the teams and speaking order. In the Asian Parliamentary debate format you have two teams. One team is called the government team, and the other team is called the Opposition team. Sometimes it is referred to them as the Affirmative and the Negative team. The names don’t really matter that much, but just for you to understand the terminology.
The Government team will always support the topic and the Opposition team must oppose the topic. You usually won’t have a choice whether you are the Government or the Opposition on a topic. Each team will have three speakers. Three in Government and three in Opposition and they will speak in alternating order. So first you will have one speaker from the Government, and then from the Opposition, and then the Gov. and then the Opp. and then the Gov. and then the Opp. Each speaker will speak for seven minutes. So an entire debate will take 42 minutes. But hold on. At the end of those 42 minutes, both the teams will get to make an extra speech. How exciting is that? It is kind of a summation speech, where you are comparing the teams, and you are trying to persuade the judge Why my team wins over the other team. So it is not really a speech where you are making new arguments. But we will get into those details later. So at the end of those six speeches, the teams get to make a reply speech. This one is shorter. Remember, the earlier speeches were seven minutes long, this speech will only be 4 minutes long. And if you remember, the government team started the debate by making the first speech, this time the Opposition team will start, by giving the first reply speech. So in essence, the Government team always start the debate, and they always end the debate by having the last reply speech. So that is the two teams, the speaking order and the timing.

Topic selection

Now we come to the topic selection. Every debate needs a topic. In the Asian Parliamentary format, what happens is, you will usually be given three topics, to choose from. So you and the other team can compare and choose the topic which you both like. How this is done is the teams will rank the topics, so the Government team ranks the topics 1., 2. and 3. and Opposition ranks 1, 2 and 3 and then you compare your rankings. The topic which you ranked third will not be debated. They will cancel each other off. The remaining topic will be debated. In the situation where the teams rank the same topic third, but reverse the other two rankings, then you have to flip a coin to decide who gets to debate their first choice. And if both teams rank the same topic as first, then you debate that topic. The only other thing with Asian Parliamentary debate topic format, the last thing I’ll talk about are the Points of information.

Points of information in Asian parly

When speakers are speaking, between the first and the sixth minute of every speech, speakers from the other side have the opportunity to rise up and offer a question. So you can say Point of information, Can I ask a question, On that point, or something to that effect. If I’m speaking, I can choose, whether or not to accept this interruption. So I can say Yes, go ahead, ask your question, Or make a statement, you can say anything you want. But it usually has to be short, about 15 seconds long, that is about two sentences. So you can get up, you can say your statement, or ask your question and then I have to respond to it. I don’t have to accept every question, but if I accept a question, I must respond to that question. So this adds a huge element of interactivity to the debate. So every speaker, Government speaker or Opposition speaker has the chance to be questioned by the other team during their speech. You can only ask points of information to the other team, and not to your own team. And you should take at least one, preferably two points of information in your speech. There are no points of information in the reply speech. So only points of information in the first six speeches in the debate.

Those are the essential parts of the Asian Parliamentary debate format.

This video is a transcript of a lecture, that you can see here.

If you would like to know more about Points of information, there are several articles on this website. A one hour lecture by Sarina Selleck, a lecture by Alfred C. Snider, a lecture by G. Rhydian Morgan and a short article on POI’s by me.
If you like this article, like it, or leave a comment, I love to hear your thoughts!

Time allocation and sign posting

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Im going to do two articles in one, because the both things, that I’m going to write about, talk about what you should do in your speech.

A good time allocation means that you will do all of the roles, that you need to fulfill within your speech. Being the first government speaker means, that you have to present a problem, a solution, a model and arguments. If you plan your speech good, you will use around four minutes for your arguments, and the other time will be used to present the problem/solution/plan, and a half minute closing of your speech. The time allocation gets more interesting, when you need to do more in your speech. First opp speaker has to present own arguments and negate what the frist speaker has presented. For the first opp speaker it is more important to present own arguments than to negate. That means, that in a seven minute speech you will use up to four minutes for presenting your own arguments and the other time will be used for negation and for other things that you do in your speech (introduction, closing).

The same goes for the next two speakers. You need to think about your time allocation before you start your speech. You need to know at what moment you would like to be where. Plan, that you need to be at the start of the second argument at 4,5 minutes, and if you are not, you need to finish whatever you are doing and go to the next argument. Time allocation gets more interesting on the second table. Third government speaker has a lot to do, because presenting an extension will take a lot of time of her speech, and he also needs to take time to go through the first tables and make some more rebuttal of the previous opp speaker. The best way to do it is that you start with your most important stuff, in this case you need to start with your extension. After you finish, you will have time to do the rebuttal. You can decide to do it the opposite way, but it happens often, that people get just too much involved into negation, and with that they do not present the extension clear enough, and this will cost you a good placement in the debate.

The most important thing, that you need to do is the extension, and if you waste time on the other things, that are not that important, you will show, that its not you, who makes the decisions on the speaker floor, its the speech, that takes you, where it wants and that is not a good sign. As Im just at the extension speaker of the government, this is a good place to explain the sign posting idea. Sign posting means, that you should always explain the judge, what you will do in your speech. You need to do it at least three times. In your introduction you have to tell the judge, how your speech is going to look like. That does not mean, that you need to come up and start “Ladies and gentleman, I am the third speaker of the government and my role in the debate is to negate what was already said in the debate and to present an extension”. Most judges have a good idea about what your role in the debate is, so don’t repeat that, because you will bore the judge, and you don’t want to do that in the first sentence that you make. What you need to do is that you, while make your introduction tell the judge what your arguments will be about.

It is easier for the judges to follow, and it is fair to the opposite teams, so that have an idea, what you will speak about up front. In your speech, you should always tell, when you from one argument to the other, when you go from the negation to your own substantive material, when you go to your extension. Most of the judges wait for you to do your job, so they will react on you saying to them, what you are doing. So this is the second sign posting,that you need to do. The third sign posting that you need to do is at the end of your speech. You should sum up, what you have said in the debate. Do not repeat it too much, just go through the one most important thing for each argument.

To make the sign posting clear in one sentence: You need to tell, what you are going to do, than do it and tell what you are doing, and at the end you need to tell, what you have done in your speech. If you follow the ideas presented in this article, you will have a better structure, you will do your job as a speaker and the judges will follow what you speak about and it won’t happen, that you think you said something, but the judge just won’t get it. Comments to this article are welcome!