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  • Simon Lamsal, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Learning the Art of Argumentation

A lot of us think debate is an activity that is primarily two teams in a room arguing to a judge about a topic for hours. However, Collegiate debate is one of the most transformative and challenging activities any student can participate in. There are a lot of skills you learn and will help you not only as a student, it will also help you in your later career. Primarily, four key elements that are vital to almost any career you will enter are: argumentation, research, public speaking and persuasion. Understanding these elements and using these will make you excel in a world which thrives off competition.

Argumentation and debate go hand in hand. Argumentation is the art of reasoning in support of your idea. Why is this necessary? Realistically, in instances where you disagree with other people on various points, your argumentation skills will come in handy when you try to get your point across. The goal here is not to always win or change the other persons opinion or idea, it is to try to come to a common conclusion or ground in which the ideas can coexist. This will be more practical in our lives, especially when you propose a plan in your career. Your fellow colleagues or supervisors might disagree on various points. You might argue why you think the ideas and the points are justified under your view and more over, better than other alternatives. Building this fundamental skill will really help formulate arguments in such a way that you, get your point across but more importantly-win some debates. Not only is getting your point across necessary, proper justification is also a key element. In order to justify your arguments, you may need to rely on research.

Among other things, research is very important. Knowing your facts and tailoring it better to suite the conversation is always advantageous. For instance, if you are going to be talking about the harmful effects of plastic on soil, it will be better to have research and evidence that talks about why it is harmful for soil versus providing evidence that plastic is bad in general. We all know that plastic is harmful for the environment but why is it specifically bad for soil might be necessary to emphasize your point. This ties into justification of your idea and why arguments you make are justified or should be taken into consideration. This also gives you an edge over others because you are more versed to present evidence for and against any given topic. Learning how to research and catering it towards your audience will make the difference between having a broad idea versus an idea that really narrows down your plan and how executing your plan is a better idea. Once we are well researched, we will most likely be more confident and will, to an extent, help us speak with clarity and finesse.

Public speaking-don’t we all love it? No? That is at least true for most of us. We have an innate fear of what people will think of us, especially in front of large crowds, that stops us from volunteering and speaking at events in our lives. Engaging in debate helps you get over the fear, primarily through experience but moreover through understanding the content and context behind the point you make. Gaining momentum is key to getting over the fear but more importantly being a better persuasive speaker. By far the most important skill and arguably the most key skill that anyone can gain is persuasion skills. Convincing someone is not as easy as we think and which is why a lot of us fail to do so. Learning how to persuade someone and convince them that your idea is good or possibly better than other ideas will really make you stand out among the crowd.

You do not need to necessarily join your debate team at your school to learn argumentation. Every day, we make decisions and take action. Sometimes, we need to justify these actions. In these moments, you could apply these skills and learn what works best for you and how you can make speeches easier for you. Not only will these skills help students in their college life but will help them far in their career.

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