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Debate Chairs

Debate Chairs ensure our debates – both online and in person – run smoothly and in accordance with The Braver Angels Way!

If you are considering being part of the dynamic Debate Team, and want to help facilitate a space where people can have better conversations, you might be interested in training as a debate chair.

Debate chairs are the moderators for Braver Angels debates. They guide our encounters with one another during BA debates and ensure we engage in The Braver Angels Way – saying only what we truly believe about hard topics, treating those with whom we disagree with honesty, dignity and respect, and sharing and learning regardless of what side we are on.

Prerequisites

Get Started

Step 1

Enroll & Complete the Debate Chair eCourse

The first step of chair training is to complete the training eCourse. To begin your journey as a debate chair, please complete this form and you will be directed to the eCourse.

The course was designed by the College Debates and Discourse (CD&D) Alliance, which is a partnership between Braver Angels, The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), and BridgeUSA. As you complete it, you will hear many references to college debates, but rest assured that the training will be informative as you learn to lead community debates in other settings!

Step 2

Attend a Q&A Session

The next step is to attend a Q&A Session with an experienced debate chair! Please check the Braver Angels events calendar to locate and register for one of our upcoming Q&A Sessions. This session will be an opportunity to ask any questions you may have about being a debate chair.

Step 3

Mock Debate – Try your Hand at Chairing

The final step in the chair training process is trying your hand at it during a mock debate. Please check the Braver Angels events calendar and register for an upcoming mock debate. During the event, members of the Braver Angels Debate team and your fellow trainees will debate with one another and provide space for you to practice your newly acquired chairing skills.

Upcoming Training Sessions & Chair Forums

FAQ

Whether you’re chairing in person or online, you’re in the same role with the same rules, but the medium can make some difference in how you play the part. The differences come down to the way you interact with your participants online vs. off.


In this respect, the most concrete difference is the role of the whips. The role of a whip is to assist the chair, and while some chairs use whips for in-person debates (especially larger ones), many chairs go without them. On Zoom, the whips and the rest of the support staff are essential to facilitating communication between you and the participants.


The difference between online and off comes down to the way you gauge the feeling of the room. It’s your job to cultivate this in a constructive manner. We encourage you to give chairing a try both online and off and to develop your own way to shepherd the group through this collective, hybrid head-and-heart experience.

Some folks find completing whip training first to be helpful, but you are not required to be a debate whip to enroll in debate chair training. If you would like to get a look at what chairs do from behind the scenes, training as a whip is a great way!

The debate chair does not need to function as the debate organizer. As chair, you are in charge on debate night, but you aren’t expected to do everything yourself. You can also have debate whips if needed and it may be helpful to have greeters, observers, or other support staff.

You are welcome to chair debates in whichever format(s) you prefer!

You by no means must be an expert in the field, though most debate chairs find it helpful to have some context on the debate topic as they introduce the resolution and frame the event.

There are certain points that all chairs will want to hit as they facilitate a debate, but we encourage you to make it your own and insert your personality. For tips on what to say, visit this resource: Chairing a Braver Angels Debate.

No technical experience is required, though experience using Zoom or other online conferencing platforms may be helpful.

Please email the Debate Volunteer Team at debatevolunteerteam@braverangels.org if you have further questions about Chair Training.

Braver Angels Support