• About

    Perspectives not personalities

    Debating London is a bi-monthly series of free public debates on topical issues that divide public opinion. Run by the Great Debaters Club, the UK's only debate club and training programme for adults, each debate presents the audience with a proposal (which we call a 'motion') facing real-life decision-makers that they must vote to accept or reject with the help of our panel, who must make the case for and against the motion.

     

    Instead of inviting guest speakers to sit on this panel, we spend a week training a group of our members to defend the competing perspectives shaping the debate in their own words. We then invite our audience to interact with those perspectives by asking questions and advancing their own opinions with our speakers staying ‘in character’ throughout when responding to them.

     

    By the end of the evening, we measure success not based on which side wins the debate, but by how confident the audience are to make their final decision. So far in 2018, the topics we have debated include: making Bitcoin a legal currency, nationalising utility companies, staying in the EU customs union, and holding consumers responsible for ending the plastic waste crisis.

     

    The series was launched in 2009 by Great Debaters Club founder, Tony Koutsoumbos, and Jason Maude, former President of the Nottingham Debating Union where the two met while students at Nottingham University. It began as a hobby with only a handful of people attending each debate and pre-dates the club and the training programme (launched in 2015) by six years, hence the two different identities.

     

    Today, Debating London exists to give members of the Great Debaters Club a platform to put their skills into practice in a live environment and to carry out the club's social mission of providing a safe space for disagreement that anyone of any means can attend at any time.

    Venue for all public debates

    FREE to attend and open to all

    Day and time

    All public debates on Wednesdays

    from 7.00 pm to 9.30 pm.

     

    Format

    Speakers make opening arguments after audience cast pre-lim vote.

     

    Audience responds to the speakers and debate judge offers analysis.

     

    Speakers make closing arguments and audience cast final vote before post-debate focus group

     

  • How we decide what to debate

    Turning a topic into a 'motion'

    We typically debate issues that divide public opinion, which last year ranged from driverless cars and a maximum wage to sexual harassment and fake news. Topics are expressed not as a question, but as a proposal that the audience must vote to accept or reject after hearing all the arguments. We call these motions.

    Selecting our speaker teams

    Putting our members in the hot seat

    Only members of the Great Debaters Club training programme are invited to sit on the panel of public debates. Six speakers are divided into two teams: one in favour of the motion and the other against. However, we pick the teams and the speakers must defend the position they are given even if they personally disagree.

    How we get the audience involved

    Asking questions and making decisions

    The audience play a crucial role at Debating London. After hearing from the speaker teams, they cross-examine both sides by either asking a question or explaining where they stand. They must then decide who they agree with most, voting both before the debate and after, so we can see how many people have changed their minds.

    Why we ask you for feedback

    Advancing the development of our members

    Debating London is a vital training ground for members to develop their communication and analytical skills. As a result, we like to know who you found most persuasive and why. So, we run small focus groups with five or six people at the end of each debate and write up the feedback in debate summaries for our members.

    How to watch Debating London

    Free of charge and open to all

    We don't charge for admission and we don't keep a guest-list, so it's very much a case of first come first served. All you need to do is register on-line (so we don't exceed the capacity of our venue). If you're on the mailing list, you'll be sent a link automatically, but you can also sign up here on the website, on facebook and on meetup.

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