Choose a definitive formulation of the thesis you are proposing, and communicate
this formulation to your opponents at least several days beforehand. (Proponents
and opponents should be clear about the thesis that is being debated.)
State this formulation of the thesis at the beginning and end of your presentation,
and several times in the middle. (The audience should be clear about the
thesis that is being debated.)
Make it clear what the theoretical background of your argument is. (E.g.,
in ethics: utilitarianism, Kantian ethics, etc.)
Attempt to trap your opponent, by anticipating his arguments beforehand
and showing what is wrong with them.
Do not be afraid to use visual aids (blackboard, handouts, overhead projector)
to make your point.
For Proponents and Opponents
Include a conclusion in which you demonstrate how you have established
or refuted the thesis.
Avoid lengthy and repetitive presentations of facts or stories. Avoid mouthing
a familiar party-line. Concentrate on arguments and on thinking
through to basic presuppositions.
Use notes. If you attempt to write out every word of your presentation
beforehand it will sound wooden.
Speak loudly and clearly, and address your remarks to the audience.
Speak confidently; always sound as if you believe absolutely in what you
are saying, always maintain a consistent front.
Always prepare more notes than you think you will need. If you think
you have said enough, move directly to your conclusion. Do not leave the
audience with the impression that you have not said enough.
Leave your personal views and your personal experiences out of account;
what is important is exclusively the quality of your arguments.
Never concede that you agree with the other side or suggest compromise
positions. Preserve a clear opposition between the views of proponents
and opponents throughout.
Use radical and imaginative gambits to keep the attention and sympathy
of your audience. For example: pretend to agree with almost everything
the opposing side says, but then reveal how what your opponents say implies
that they are in fact quite wrong. Or use the method of reductio ad
absurdum (i.e. show that, if the opposing side were correct,
then this would have absurd consequences).
Do not use ad hominem arguments. Even morally degenerate people
can have good arguments. The qualities of the person presenting an argument
are irrelevant to the quality of the argument he presents.