Thursday, April 17, 2014

Debate session for three persons

Here's a story of one of Lviv Toastmasters meetings that was about to become a failure, but became a success instead.

Due to different reasons Lviv Toastmasters club is having a shortage of people at regular meetings at this time, and it just happened so that at our last meeting most of usual members couldn't come, so we ended up having only 3 persons.

It sounds kind of impossible to have a club meeting of 3 persons only - who'd be evaluating? What'll be the performances? Tabletopic speeches for 2 volunteers? Doesn't sound good.

But we at Lviv Toastmasters have found out that meetings with fewer people are actually a good occasion to have sessions that require a lot of time, like game session or debates. And, believe it or not, it turned out that 3 is just the perfect number for having very interesting extended debates session.

The rules were made on the spot and are actually quite simple: 

  • two of the members engage in a debate with each other on a subject given by the third member, for example: legalising light drugs, implementing mandatory submission of body organs of people deceased in hospitals to a government organ donation pool etc;
  • members cannot decide on their own whether they'd like to support or oppose the idea given in a subject - they draw a lot instead;
  • the third member is also acting as a timer and an evaluator, deciding who was proving his point in a best way and thus won the debates, and also speaking on what could've been done better by both participants;
  • the debates take part in 2 rounds, 3 minutes in first round and 2 minutes in second round, where debaters could address each other's points given in first round. The members are also given 3 minutes to prepare before first round. The one who is to support the idea given in a subject - starts first.

As one can see, these rules allow to have a debate session for 2 members in no less than 15 minutes: 3 minutes for preparation, 3+2 talk minutes for each debater and a couple of minutes for judge's evaluation.

Since we have 3 persons at the meeting, we have 3 debate sessions turns - one member took a judge role while other two were debating, then next member became a judge etc. So we have spent at least 45 minutes for the debate session.

The subjects for debates were also quite imaginative, and "sharp" enough to sparkle a serious debate:

  1. Light drugs (marijuana in particular) should be legalised;
  2. Organs of people who die in hospitals should be automatically donated to government organ transplantation pool, without any request for consent from relatives etc.
  3. A government facilities should be created for centralised food production that would make food production cheaper and accessible for most of average people, who wouldn't need to have own kitchens in their apartments and prepare food on their own.

Some of the initiatives mentioned in the subjects were not so easy to support or oppose by debaters, making the debate session more challenging and thus more fun.

As a result, we managed to have a fun and interesting meeting while having only 3 people present.