Lesson 2.8

Moderating Debate & “Debatestorming”

Dive into this topic by watching the video, followed by key concepts below:


Key Concepts:


A debate moderator (or responsible debater)’s job is to make sure the following happens:

  • Make sure everyone in the debate fully participates. (Or else why did you invite them?)

  • Gently enforce the rules of good debate (see Lesson 2.6).

  • Gently call out derailing behavior—from topic-switching to fallacies to rhetorical tricks—and reset the debate.

    • We’ll go over these kinds of behaviors in the next few lessons.

For a Debate Type 3, where the goal is to Explore and discover new ideas and insights, it pays to follow the Scientific Method, which is how scientists systematically discover information. It goes like this:

  1. Make an observation.

  2. Ask a question based on that observation.

  3. Make a hypothesis that potentially answers the question.

  4. Try to DISPROVE the hypothesis by running an experiment or gathering data.

  5. Analyze the results and make a conclusion.

  6. Go back to any of the above steps and repeat, depending on what you learned!

We might call an idea-generating debate a “Debatestorm.” (Kind of like a brainstorm, but more powerful.) Here’s the step-by-step process to follow, whether you’re going to host a formal “Debatestorm” or generate ideas in a less formal way:

(If you’d like a spreadsheet to organize your own Debatestorm in a formal way, feel free to copy this Google Sheet here.)

No matter your setting or process, as a debate facilitator or participant, the #1 thing to keep an eye out for is when things start to get personal.

We’ll practice dealing with that in the next exercise…