Moderator Duties for a Debate

by Louise Balle
A business meeting in a boardroom.

A business meeting in a boardroom.

Any organized debate, from a political discussion to an event at a school, needs to have a moderator. The moderator acts as a and neutral party who maintains the focus of the debate. Important skills include time management, organization, and the ability to communicate effectively. It also helps for the moderator to have some level of knowledge on the topic up for debate.

Introduce Debaters

At the start of a debate, the moderator must introduce both parties by name. He must have background information about each debater, including educational accomplishments, awards, and the organization the debater represents. Once the introductions are finished, the debate moderator must lay down the rules, such as time limitations for responses, and then give the floor to the first debater.

End Petty Arguments

The nature of a debate is to present arguments, but sometimes the discussion gets out of hand. For instance, if the debaters start to call each other names or throw insults, the moderator must step in and admonish each offender. This helps keep the debate from going off-topic and devolving into a fruitless war of words. It is important for the moderator to be impartial when moderating the discussion and handling petty arguments between debaters.

Redirect Discussion

It is not uncommon for a debater to go on a tangent when discussing his point. If he manages to integrate a slightly off-topic point with his main point that's fine, but if he stays off-topic that's a problem and could degrade the quality of the debate. If the debate moderator feels that the discussion is going too far off of the topic, she can interject and redirect the discussion by either asking the person to return to his original point or moving on to the other party's response.

Monitor

One key duty of a debate moderator is to watch the clock during a debate. If a debater goes over his time limit, the moderator must interrupt and give the floor to the other side. The moderator must firmly ask each debater to respect time limitations if it is a recurring problem.

About the Author

Louise Balle has been writing Web articles since 2004, covering everything from business promotion to topics on beauty. Her work can be found on various websites. She has a small-business background and experience as a layout and graphics designer for Web and book projects.

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