By: Cameryn P.

We have all argued with our siblings before and if we have not, congrats on being the only child. Did you know there is a difference between arguing and debating? 

The difference between arguing and debating is that arguing is casual and more driven by emotions, while a debate is more formal, where ideas of a more intellectual discussion are used.

Here are a few tips on how to debate constructively:

  1. Do research. Do it ahead of time.

    1. Have a claim (your argument), evidence (anything that supports your claim) and impact (how your claim and evidence is relevant to society).

    2. Know your facts before arguing your point of view. When researching, look for relevant points that connect to the topic.

    3. Learn your opponent’s rebuttal and find evidence to dispute their claims.

  2. Do not be driven by your own opinion.

    1. Provide evidence and credible information that help justify and support your claim than merely your own opinion

  3. Know your audience.

    1. Learn about who will be listening or judging your debate.

  4. Confidence

    1. Speak with eloquence.

    2. Remain in a composite posture.

    3. Know what you are talking about.

  5. When talking, do the following.

    1. Diversify your tone.

    2. Maintain eye contact.

    3. Use dramatic pauses.

  6. When talking, avoid the following.

    1. Falsifying evidence.

    2. Attacking the opposition with your personal emotions.

    3. Interrupting your opponent.

    4. Being offensive.

    5. Using filler words. (We all know them and um…use them.)

    6. Overusing words and phrases.

  7. Beware of logical fallacies

    1. Logical fallacies are flawed or false arguments that can be proven wrong.

    2. Some include:

      1. Ad Hominem

        1. Using emotion and personal attacks rather than logic.

      2. Straw Man

        1. Attacks a different subject or topic rather than the one being discussed.

      3. Slippery Slope

        1. Assumes that a certain course of action will lead to a chain of future events with no supporting evidence.

      4. Bandwagon Fallacy

        1. Assumes something is true because others agree with it.

      5. Red Herring

        1. An argument that uses confusion or distraction to shift attention away from a topic and toward a false conclusion.

        2. Contains an unimportant fact that has little relevance to the topic.

Now you can have your Elle Woods moment and successfully debate with anyone. (Do not try this at home with a parent, there will be consequences.)


15 logical fallacies you should know before getting into a debate. (2022, April 20). Retrieved May 12, 2022, from 

How to debate: An art worth learning. University of the People. (2020, February 13). Retrieved May 12, 2022, from 

Keys to successful debate. South Dakota State University. (n.d.). Retrieved May 12, 2022, from 

ShendArt. (2020, November 11). Debating club concept discussion important vector image on vectorstock. VectorStock. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from 

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