GOW Debating Rules


A debate takes place between two teams:

  • the proposition, who propose and are therefore in favour of the motion,
  • the opposition, who oppose the motion and are in favour of the status quo or a different course of action

The debate is moderated by the chairman, who ensures that the rules are followed.


The four members of the proposition will make the case for the motion. They take the position that the status quo is not acceptable and that something should change. At the end of their speeches, they will encourage the house to support the motion by “commending the motion to the house” or via another similar sentence, for example “I urge the house to support this motion”.

  • The first proposition speaker will define the motion and lay out the case (complete argument) for it. This speech is akin to a prepared Toastmasters speech.
  • The second and third proposition speaker will refute the previous opposition speaker’s argument against the motion. Whilst having some prepared notes, he will write much of his speech while listening to and in response to the first opposition’s speech.
  • After the eventual questions from the floor (audience) and the third opposition speaker’s speech, the fourth proposition speaker will make the final, short summation speech, explaining why the house should vote for the motion.

During the debate itself, it is perfectly acceptable, even desirable, to use notes, given that debating is about facts.


The four members of the opposition will make the case against the motion. They believe that the status quo or an alternative course of action is better than the proposition’s motion.

  • The first opposition speaker will make a clear case against the motion. The first opposition speech will be prepared, but the speaker may also choose briefly to refute the first proposition speaker. The first opposition speaker may find that the opposition’s interpretation of the motion is slightly different than proposition’s understanding of it. This is not a problem; it is simply a further topic of debate during the speeches!
  • The second and third opposition speaker will refute the arguments for the motion. After the questions from the floor, the third opposition speaker’s speech, the fourth opposition speaker will summarize why the house should vote against the motion.

During the debate itself, it is perfectly acceptable, even desirable, to use notes, given that debating is about facts.

After the summation speeches, the judges will vote to decide if the motion passes or not. If the motion passes, the proposition wins the debate. If the motion fails, the opposition wins.


When giving their speeches the proposition and opposition should observe parliamentary language. Insulting the other side is not allowed; however, questioning their judgement and understanding is. Speakers address other speakers as “my honourable friend” or “the member of the opposition/proposition”.

Use of Props

During the debate it is allowed to use props however the setup and clean up cannot interfere with the stage time of the other speakers. Speaker using props should leave the stage in a state he or she found it. Digital props like presentations or projections are not permitted.


The chairperson is responsible for keeping the debate running smoothly, and ensuring that the rules are followed. He or she will correct speakers if they stray, for example, through improper language or exceeding the allowed time. He or she will maintain order both between the speakers and also on the floor (audience).

  • At the beginning of the first debate, the chairperson will explain the debate format.
  • Before each debate, the chairperson will introduce the debate teams.
  • Then he or she will state the motion as neutrally as possible, to avoid prejudicing the floor (audience) in favour of either team’s argument.
  • After the first six speeches (three from each team) the chairperson will open the debate to the floor (audience).
  • The chairperson will moderate the discussion by acknowledging questioners from the floor, addressing the relevant debaters, and ensuring that the floor debate finishes on time.
  • The chairperson will then introduce the summary speeches.
  • The chairperson will close the debate at the end of the proposition’s summation speech, and call for a house vote.
  • Once the ballots are collected, the chairperson will entertain the audience until the result come.
  • Chairperson will announce the teams going to the next round of the debate.
  • The chairperson shall always be addressed as “Mister Chairperson” or “Madame Chairperson” as appropriate.

Managing Points of Information

The chairperson will not interfere with overly long points of information, he or she will only cut off the points in which the person offering the points is harassing the speaker.


The vote will be decided by ballots. The votes shall be counted by two ballot counters.


The timer indicates when each speaker should begin and end, and when points of information are permitted. The Timer will indicate to the chairman if the time is exceeded. The timer will use a bell to indicate the following:

  • A single bell – to indicate that a speaker may begin (S)
  • A double bell – to indicate the end of the allotted speaking time. (D) Moreover, at time limit the timer should start to clap, the audience will follow to interrupt the speaker.

Points of information

Points of information are possible only during the 3rd Round of the GOW Debate. Single bell (S) is used to indicate the beginning and end of the period where points of information can be delivered.


The floor (audience) will have the opportunity to question the speakers after the first six speeches are over. Like the speakers, floor members must address their questions to the Chairperson and respect the rules of language. The questions should be short and precise. Judges are not allowed to interfere with the Debate.


Judges attend the debate and evaluate each speaker individually, based on a number of criteria. Each judge keeps personal notes and assigns scores. Judges won’t grade the Use of Rebuttal of the 1st speaker of the Proposition and Opposition. In the end each judge selects the winning team (via overall score). The team that is supported by the majority of judges is announced to be the winner. If the number of judges is even, a tiebreaking judge is required. Each judge is optionally allowed to provide verbal feedback after the announcement of the result.

Judging Criteria

Each evaluation criteria is graded by a score of 1 to 10.

Criteria 0 – 2 points 3 – 5 points 6 – 8 points 9 – 10 points
1. Organization and Clarity:
Viewpoints and responses are outlined both clearly and orderly.
Unclear in most parts Clear in some parts but not over all Mostly clear and orderly in all parts Completely clear and orderly presentation
2. Use of Arguments and Facts:
Reasons are given to support the viewpoint. Examples and facts are given to support reasons, with references
Few or no relevant supporting examples/facts Some relevant examples/facts given Many examples/facts given: fairly relevant Most relevant supporting examples and facts given
3. Use of Rebuttal:
Arguments made by the other teams are responded to and dealt with effectively.
No effective counter-arguments made Few effective counter-arguments made Some effective counter-arguments made Many effective counter-arguments made
4. Presentation Style:
Tone of voice, use of gestures, and level of enthusiasm are convincing to audience.
Few style features were used; not convincingly Few style features were used but they were used convincingly All style features were used, most convincingly All style features were used convincingly
5. Penalties
Respect for the protocol, appropriate language, no insults, respecting the time
A lot of reprimands given Many reprimands given Some reprimands given Few or None