The Skills I Learnt from Debating

The Skills I Learnt from Debating

May 29, 2019 10:15 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Our President Fee Francis shares the skills she developed from taking part in debating:

Earlier this month, I took part in the JCI English debating competition at European Conference 2019 in Lyon and our team won! I’ve basically spent the last week telling everyone and anyone that we won the debating competition and we are now European debating champions. Not to brag (okay maybe to brag a little bit) but mainly because I am still completely in shock! It’s occurred to me during these many conversations about debating that there are so many skills learned during debating that are relevant to working life.

1. Working well under pressure It’s something we all put on our CV but do we all have the practical examples to back it up? In debating, you have 15 minutes to prepare your topic so it is vital that you use that time well to prepare your argument, research facts and try to predict any possible counter arguments your opposition could make.

2. Working as part of a team. In debating, you work as a team of 3 people. Much like in the world of work, you are only as strong as your weakest link so making sure you choose your team wisely and work well together is important. Points are gained by showing good teamwork – communicating together, referring to each other’s arguments and supporting each other.

3. Being concise and to the point. In debating, you have 3 minutes to give your argument. This means you must be concise and make sure you get all of your points across before you run out of time. While at work, you may not have a timekeeper holding up signs telling you to finish speaking, it’s always good to bear in mind that there is no harm in keeping things short and simple when trying to get your point across. As George Orwell once said – “Never use a long word where a short one will do”.

4. Separating the argument from the person. A crucial part of debating is being able to disprove your oppositions arguments. This can often get quite brutal and your opponent can use personal insults and tear your argument apart in order to gain support for their argument. As someone with a relatively thin skin when it comes to criticism, I had to quite quickly learn to separate the criticism from opponents from my own emotions. This has really helped me in the world of work as well as the majority of the time, criticism (constructive or not) is aimed towards work or situations rather than towards you personally and being able to make the distinction saves a lot of upset!

There are tons more links between debating and work but in the interest of being concise and to the point (see what I did there?) I’ll finish here! I am more than happy to discuss debating or anything else JCI related at any point so as always, feel free to drop me an email to [email protected] – let’s chat!

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This post was written by Zoe Toseland

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