In college, I could say the only thing worth remembering was debate. Of course I had a couple of really good Marketing professors (Sir Freddie Serapio, you’re beyond awesome!) and super smart Philosophy teachers (Rex Rola and Noy Tomacruz represent my tuition well-spent) but what really helped me advance in my career were the learnings I got through debate. I remember this now because July is about to end, and school clubs are still recruiting for new members.
Many would think that debaters are nerds who only want to hear themselves talk. Although that may be true for several people, there’s also more to look forward to in debate. So if you are still undecided about which club to be a member of, take a look at these awesome things you’ll get with debate. In this article, I will convince you that debate is the best pre-work preparation. You too, might be half-hearted about this but once you get to see its benefits, you’ll know it’s the perfect pre-professional training. So keep reading.
Debate works with arguments. Debaters argue, but not in the sense that they should quarrel. See, an argument, technically, is a series of statements that proves something correct. A rebuttal, on the other hand, aims to disprove an argument, but also works with the same principle as an argument (counter-argument). When you argue, you need to be confident, eloquent and you also need to be a fast thinker. Try doing these things everyday. By the end of the year, 2 years or your entire college life, you’d be one of the best, fastest and most eloquent thinkers your batch has produced. I’m not kidding.
Let’s take these factors in one by one. First, you need to be confident. As what the trainers always say, debate is half-acting. Sometimes, even if your argument is half-baked, be confident that the right words will come out of your mouth. Be convinced that you have the solution, that your answer is the best answer, that your proposal has more net benefit. In work, you’re going to need this because you have to constantly prove yourself in the workplace. Confidence is an attitude. Wear it with pride but don’t let it overpower you. Of course there’s a difference between being confident and being a braggart. Confidence puts more credibility in you and your output so make it count. If you stay a meek mouse who just does his/her job in quiet, I’m afraid you’re going to advance very slowly. Like a….meek mouse.
Aside from confidence, another great perk of debating is eloquence. To be understood better, you need to have the right words at your disposal. In debate, you will be taught that the choice of words can make or break an argument, so you have to pick your words carefully. If there are 3, 8 or 13 judges staring at you from the panel, with the best choice of words, you can maximize your advantage. In work, you might be assigned with letters, formalities, paperwork, speeches, corporate copywriting and other things that require a fine touch to the written and spoken word. Own all of them. What’s more, you’ll actually appear like you’re always on top of the game when you make your way around social events. You’ll even get to earn a few bucks on the side doing hosting or extra written PR work. It’s a top advantage.
Lastly, I wasn’t exaggerating about debaters being the best and fastest thinkers in a group. See, in debate, arguments fling around. And you get to disprove the best and fastest thinkers of the other group (or school). No matter how flawless an argument is, you have to find a lapse somewhere and disprove it. You need to listen very well, not cut through a sentence. Because fast thinking should also come with quality. If you’re the one arguing and you get a rebuttal, you must also think fast to save your case. There are also times when debaters throw curveballs at you and give away really one-of-a-kind arguments that change the entire focus of the debate. So whatever it is that you prepared for the last 15-20 minutes? Be ready to scrap that and write a whole new line of argument from scratch. Happened to me so many times it hurt just thinking about it.
Also, remember that in debate, topics are only given 15-30 minutes before a round (15 minutes for British Parliamentary format and 30 minutes for Asian Parliamentary) so it helps to be a really wide reader. Topics would range from nuclear enrichment to politics to hiphop, feminism and Justin Bieber. I used to read everything—from the Bible, to the FHM magazine, to the back of a shampoo bottle. Contributed a lot to my information bank.
That said, I hope you’re convinced that debate is a great way to prep yourself for work and the life beyond it. I mean, even when you’re out in the dating world you’d also love to be confident, eloquent and fast-thinking, right?
Also, CONGRATULATIONS to Jonathan Yabut, a Filipino DEBATER, for winning The Apprentice Asia! You know how difficult that feat was, right? If you don’t, here’s a quick run of the numbers:
*30,000 applicants from countries all over Asia
*5,000 applicants from Philippines alone
*$200,000 contract with AirAsia executive Tony Fernandes
WE are proud of you!