Six steps you can do to improve your manner

Here are 6 easy steps you can do during and outside of your debate practice to enhance your speaking manner.

Manner, or style, deals with how you present your speech. It includes body language (if applicable), the pace of your speech, volume & tonal variations, choice of vocabulary, and your eye contact. Ideally, style does not include accents. A speaker’s accent (foreign-ness or familiarity of an accent, or perceived harshness or pleasantness of an accent) should never be considered when scoring for style. It is also not about your voice’s immutable characteristics, such as the tone or frequency of your voice.

At World Schools Debating Championship, manner (style) consists of 20% of your overall score. Meanwhile, it counts for some of your overall score in other Asian Parliamentary tournaments. However, it may differ according to the system each competition adapts.

‘Manner’ may not be one of the biggest factors of your overall score, but a poor manner might damage your well-thought arguments. Mumbling, speaking too loudly, or speaking too quickly to be understood in a poor manner typically hinders the intelligibility of your speech. Inefficient sentences and ineffective choice of words could also make your arguments less persuasive, not as optimal as they could be. This is because judges are humans too, and the harder it is for them to listen and convey your speech, the harder it is for the judges to understand your case.

Here are 6 easy steps you can do during and outside of your debate practice to enhance your speaking manner.

Increase your fluency.

Make sure your pronunciation is accurate. How?

Example of how Google can help you correct your pronunciation.
  1. Google unfamiliar pronunciation.
  2. Practice tongue twisters speeches. You can look it up or use this reference as a starter: English Tongue Twisters

QUICK TIP: Start slow but steady. Acknowledge errors. Record/film yourself. Listen and cringe at your footage. Note & correct mistakes. Retake until satisfied. Repeat. Gain confidence over time.

Increase your diction and vocabulary.

  1. Ask questions. When someone (your teammates, coach, or teacher) explains unfamiliar terms, don’t be ashamed to ask questions. If you’re shamed/belittled, shame on them for shaming your learning process. You must keep learning and knowing more no matter what. Google “… meaning”. Ask your friends to explain complex terms that wouldn’t be easy to grasp only by googling. Ask them to give you concepts and examples.
  2. Read the news. Oftentimes, you’ll find unfamiliar political terms or scientific terms. Immediately search for the meaning and continue the reading. Why?
    1. It will help you understand the context of the article
    2. You learn new words as you’re absorbing important context!
  3. Use English in your daily conversation. It’ll help with your fluency. The more practice the better. Ask your friends or anyone to correct your pronunciation during conversations, don’t be scared of making mistakes (especially when English is your 2nd or 3rd language).
  4. Watch educational YouTube videos and make a summary. Find a 10-30 minute video explaining anything you’re interested in knowing (e.g. “Cryptocurrency, explained”) and then try to make a summary in your notes. This will help you make your understanding (in English as opposed to your mother language) and explanation to be more concise.

Imitate and modify.

Find your inspiration. Search “WSDC/WUDC [insert country/debater] speech”. Or, look up any “dino” debaters you know in your circuit. Imitate their style. If their style fits you, that’s great and you might want to keep doing it. If their style doesn’t fit you, change it or modify it to your liking. Eventually, you’ll find your preferred debating style that you’ll be comfortable in.

Video reference

Here are a couple of videos you can use as a reference to practice:

You can also check out Jen’s playlist that includes some Dan Lahav’s speech here.

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