Primary school debate club 2

Duration: 15:28

Transcript – Primary school debate club 2

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TONY DAVEY: Hi, there. So, welcome to week two of us going through different debating skills with you guys and then posting little videos about stuff so you can keep up your debating experience while you're in lockdown. And hopefully when lockdown lifts, you won't have missed out anything in terms of being a great debater or public speaker.

So, this week, what we're going to talk about is your manner. Manner is one of the three M's that you have to concentrate on every time you're giving a speech. And manner is the one that's about the way you look and sound in the debate. So, anything that isn't something you're saying or isn't part of your planning, it's about your manner, the way that you look and the way that you sound.

Before we kick off, one really important thing to understand about manner. And that is it's not really that important. It's certainly not as important as the stuff that you're saying in the debate. So, you had to say to yourself, hmm, should I pay attention to what I'm saying and my ideas and explaining them well? Or should I devote some extra brainpower to making sure I look and sound really good definitely focus on your ideas.

Still, there's some little things that are worth knowing about manner, whether you're in a debate or giving a public speech. And we're going to run through them now. In fact, there are basically four different things that you need to try to get right every time you stand up in front of people to give a speech in terms of how you look and how you sound.

So, the first one of those things that you need to pay attention to, the first thing that you need to think about is what happens when you stumble or stuff up, or you have a sentence that goes nowhere? And then you have a 15 seconds little catastrophe in your speech. And then hopefully you get back on track.

We actually think that that is a really good thing when you're in a debate. And that's why rule number one of good manner is to say, 'um.' When we say that, we don't just mean that you have to say 'um.' Your little word might be 'like'. Or they might just be a little pause there. Or they might just be you staring off into space and thinking for a second and then getting back to it.

However you choose to fill that space when you get into trouble, that is great debating. So, debating and public speaking, for that matter, is not about you turning up and giving this perfectly prepared speech that it feels like you're reading it off for the 1,000th time like a robot. And you're not making up anything on the spot. You're not reacting to anything that's happening. You're just doing this really prepared boring speech.

Everyone in the audience will notice that. Plus, the main reason kids worry about saying 'um' and stumbling is they think that the grown ups in the room will go, uh, kid, what is wrong with this kid's brain? The truth is, those grown ups who are watching you are probably much worse at debating and public speaking than you are that will look at some kid saying, 'um' was stumbling a tiny bit and say to themselves, now, I hate this kid.

They look at these kids, and they say, wow, this kid is like, way braver than I was at their age. I guarantee you I would have gone up there with everything written out so that I could read it off and get out of there as quick as possible. This kid's actually thinking, trying to communicate with me. That it's one heck of a debater. So, great debaters don't rely on everything that's written down.

They don't hope that they get out of there without any stumbles or any faults. They follow rule number One, which is, they make some stuff up on the spot. They don't freak out if they have a little pause or a palm card that doesn't make sense midway through.

They are fine when they say 'um.' So, that's the very first thing you need to keep in mind. And it's a pretty easy one. It is. Don't try to be perfect. Say 'um' and stumble a little bit. That's actually what a great debater looks and sounds like.

All right. So, the next one we want to talk to you about when you're in a speech is what to do with your eyes. This one is really easy. You just need to try to look at as many people as possible. So, when you're standing up in front of everybody, it's fine to glance at your notes occasionally. But for the most part, we want you to try to look at pretty much everyone there from one end of the audience to the other from the back to the front.

The thing is, lots of kids get super nervous. And they don't want to look at people while they're giving their speech. Adults are aware of this. And they give kids insanely unhelpful advice about what to do in that situation. When there's not a COVID-19 lockdown, I get to travel around New South Wales and talk to, like, primary school kids everywhere about different ways they avoid looking at people. And it's nuts.

All of them sound like something out of a weird horror movie. They're like, I pretend everybody there is a prawn. That's very strange. It feels like you're about to rip the heads off of everybody and eat them. They're like, I pretend that none of them are there. That's also really creepy. I stare at the top of their heads. Or I just stare at their noses.

All of that stuff is weird. But the most common tip kids get to help avoid looking at people is to just pick a spot on the back wall above everybody's heads and look at that spot. The problem is that doesn't look like you're looking at people. People in the audience don't say to themselves, huh, what a normal kid. Let's listen to their speech.

What they say to themselves is, why is that kid staring above my head right now? That's weird. Humans don't do that. And then they say to themselves, you know what. This is probably not a human. This is some kind of body-snatched kid alien. And he's looking above my head because he's waiting for the rest of the aliens to arrive and enslave mankind.

So, they don't pay attention to you. They just think up different ways to try to figure out why you look so strange today. The thing is you've just got to try to look at people as much as you can. It's going to be a little bit unnerving. But the more you get up and practise and the more you try giving a speech while looking at people, the better off you'll be.

And remember, if you do look up from your palm cards and look at people and then stumble a little bit because you lost your place on the palm cards, well, that's OK, because rule number one says you're supposed to be stumbling and saying I'm a little bit. So, remember, look up as much as you can. And when you do, don't stare at the ceiling like an insane person. Try to look at the audience. That's rule two, look at people.

OK, so the next thing that we're going to do is talk about rule three. Rule three is about what you should do with your voice. There's only really one thing you need to concentrate on with your voice. And that is to be loud. So, there are lots of other things that might happen with a voice, like you might talk too quickly. Or you might have a weird upsy, downsy voice.

The truth is none of that stuff really matters. In the history of debating, there's really ever been one primary school debater who actually spoke too quickly. But the truth is, almost everyone talks at about the right pace. Almost everybody's voice does the right thing, except that often times, they're not loud enough. So, rule three is be loud!!!!, !

The thing is if you turn up, and you're really, really loud and we can hear you, even if you're too loud, at least, we can hear you. If you turn up and you're a little bit quiet or mumbly or shy, we can't hear you. And that means you're just going to lose that debate. Like, seriously, if every adjudicator on earth from now on turned up to a debate and the kids literally shouted every single word of the debate at them, they would say to themselves, well, this is a strange turn of events. But I still prefer it to the days when I couldn't hear a thing that they were saying half the time.

So, you should just practise being as loud as you possibly can. Just a quick tip. A lot of kids find this quite difficult, right? As they're going along with their speech, they're thinking about other stuff. And they slowly get quieter and quieter and quieter. Well, the other thing they do is when they're not quite sure what they're talking about, they start to sound less confident. And they're not sure. So, they're a little bit quieter and a little bit quieter.

As a team, you might want to have a little strategic theme to help remind people to be as loud as they can. If your speaker's up there giving a speech, and they're starting to get quiet, a strategic sneeze or cough that reminds them to be louder, you could just be like, [sneeze]. And maybe that will remind them to get back on track and be a more shouty kid. So, that's rule number three. Try to remember be as loud as you can.

One last thing to keep in mind about what you look and sound like. And it's about how you stand and how you move. This rule is called rule four, look confident stillishly. Just before we move on, stillishly is a made-up word. So, don't use it in English or say this. You'll get in trouble. And you'll get bad marks.

But it perfectly explains what a great debater looks like when they're standing up there because they're not super still. If they were super still, we would be really scared and be like, is that some kind of zombie robot kid who's here to give a speech and then kill us all. So, you don't want to move a little bit. But you don't want to move like a crazy person.

So, stillishly means it's fine to take a step. Yeah. It's not OK to go for a run or pace around the stage. It's definitely not OK, by the way, to do dancing at any point during debating or public speaking. Stillishly with your hands means look, it's OK to move your hands a little bit. That's what normal people do when they're speaking.

But it is not OK to like, move your hands like a crazy person and move them all around the place and like, do jazz hands during the debate. That'll just distract people. They'll stop listening to you. And they'll kind of go to themselves, wow, now I'm watching this kid's hands because they're kind of freaky. And I'm worried they're going to poke my eye out at some point.

So, with your hands, here's the rule. You should imagine there's like a box in front of you like this, call the box of normality. If you can keep your hands inside that box and just move them a little bit, the audience is going to say to themselves, huh, what a great kid. They're hands a normal. Let's listen to what they have to say. I'm intrigued.

If you put your hands outside the box, people are going to say to themselves, what is going on with this kid right now? It's very strange that that's happening during the debate. I am no longer listening to what this kid has to say. So, keep your hands inside, take maybe one step, look confident stillishly.

One last thing about that, and this is really important for public speaking and for debating. A lot of kids think that debating and public speaking is an adorableness contest. So, they want to turn up to their speeches and be as cute and lovable as possible.

Let's face it. In the rest of their life because they're small, they can get away with like a lot of crazy stuff just by being adorable and being really huggable and making adults think, whoah, I really like this kid. It doesn't matter that they were terrible right now. That doesn't work in debating. So, you don't want your grandparents to rock up to debating and not take you seriously and just say to themselves, oh, I want to hug this person and give them cake. They're so adorable.

The thing about being a debater is you want to be taken seriously. And even at the end of your speech, people just want to hug you. That's probably not what's happened. You want your grandparents, on the other hand, to turn up to a debate and say to themselves after your speech, huh, that was amazing. I didn't even know my grandkid had a brain. They're so smart because I was listening to their ideas instead of concentrating on how adorable they are.

All of that basically means don't turn your speech into a cuteness contest. When we say have little hand gestures in front of you, we definitely don't mean that you should be acting out your speech in an adorable fashion. So, for instance, slowly pointing at yourself when you say I is weird and cutesy. It doesn't make us want to take you seriously.

We sit there going like, dude, I know who you are. You're the guy talking. Why are you pointing at yourself? Often, kids think it's adorable to like, indicate the audience and go, I know you all love puppy dogs. The problem is, again, while that might get you a cake afterwards or a hug or some chocolate or something, it doesn't get you taken seriously.

So, it's really important that you come across as a down to earth serious, little bit funny, but smart kind of kid that people want to listen to, not a cutesy person who's just out there trolling for likes. OK? So, that's basically what you need to keep in mind when it comes to what you should look and sound like. Say 'um' and stumble a little bit. That's fine. That's what great debaters sounds like.

Make sure that you're looking at pretty much everybody there. Look at them as much as you can. Next, make sure that you are really, really loud, the loudest you've ever been. And finally, try to stand pretty still just moving your hands in front of you a little bit. That's everything you need to know about what to look and sound like.

Maybe two last things to think about with your manner. The first is that we know manner is going to be tricky. And it's going to be a little bit scary sometimes. But don't devote too much brainpower to it. Remember, the stuff you say in a debate or a public speech, it is way more important than whether you're a tiny bit shy, or you come across a little bit nervous. So, don't worry about that stuff.

The second thing to remember about your manner is this, there aren't any really good tricks you can use to get better at it. You can try filming yourself. It doesn't really work. You could try looking at yourself in a mirror. Maybe you'd pick out something outrageously weird that you were doing. But honestly, it doesn't work that well either.

The way to get good at manner is to get over your nerves so that you're more relaxed and down to earth every time you stand up. And the way to get better at like being relaxed, the way to get over your nerves, it's really just to do this over and over and over again. Every time someone in class is like a teacher, and they're like, hey, who wants to give this speech in front of the class?

You should be like, yes, I want to do that. I'm scared stiff. But every time I do it, it will be slightly less scary. And the more you speak in front of people, the more you appear in debates, even if you start off a little bit shy, the easier and easier it will get. There aren't any shortcuts. There aren't easy tricks.

But I promise every time you get up to speak, your manner will improve because you get a little bit less nervous each time. You're a little bit more relaxed. And you just become a proper, down to earth, sensible version of you. OK? That's everything you need to learn about now. Remember later in the week, we're going to workshop a definition with you so that you can see that one of our very best coaches and how they would define one of last year's most popular topic.

In fact, it was last year's literally most popular topic about teachers having to play school sport with kids. And then later in the week, we'll also have one of our best coaches go back and watch their old selves in their state final and rebut themselves so you can see what super advanced rebuttle looks like. That's for now. If that's everything, stay safe. And yeah, we'll see you next week with more tips on how to be a great debater.

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