When debating you should never raise your voice. You should remain calm at all times. The louder you talk, the louder your opponent talks – and the end result is a yelling match. And of course, it goes without saying that you should definitely not resort to violence. You can even try to talk quieter than normal – as this can draw people in to you and it can make you appear wise. An argument is not won by the person with the loudest voice, it is won by the person with the most compelling arguments.
4. Get Your Opponent On Your Side
It is a good idea to try to get your opponent on your side by making statements that you know he agrees with – this puts you in the strong position in the debate. You don’t even need to use a fact relating to your debate – you could, for example, in a debate about the existence of God state “I am sure you agree with me when I say that petrol is overpriced”. As soon as your opponent agrees, you have won a psychological battle. You are no longer the opponent – you are a comrade. This technique is so effective it is used by telemarketers all the time.
3. Don’t Attack
It is not a good idea to blatantly tell your opponent that he is wrong – instead you should show that he is wrong through good counter-arguments. Telling a person they are wrong merely annoys them and does nothing for your argument as (at least until you can prove it), it is a subjective comment. Be humble in the debate and show good will – not only will it make you look good if you win, it will show that you are a worthy opponent even if you lose.
2. Don’t Play Dirty
Never resort to name calling – even if your opponent does. You must attack your opponent’s argument – not their person. As soon as you begin to criticize your opponent, it becomes obvious that you have run out of ways to defend your view. These types of insults (ad hominem) are a sure way to lose a debate. You should be pleased if your opponent resorts to this feeble attempt to escape the real debate as it means you are close to victory.
1. Define The Fundamentals
When arguing, both parties need to agree on fundamental “truths” to begin with – if you don’t, there can be no debate. What is the point of arguing that the Bible was written by God, when your opponent doesn’t even believe in God? First you should debate the existence of God. If you both agree that He exists, you can then debate the smaller points. If your opponent convinces you that God can not exist, there is little point in arguing about the authorship of the Bible. This is the structure seen in the Summa Theologica by Saint Thomas Aquinas – he starts with the basic points, presents arguments and counter-arguments, and moves on when each point is “proven” by logic.