Often, the most difficult part of any debate is trying to end it. With complex topics and moral or ethical considerations, it can be almost impossible to get either side to yield. But there are a few practical techniques you can use to try and draw the debate to a close, effectively silencing the politicians.
Get Everyone's Attention
Get the attention of the room by either raising your voice or standing up. Outline the need to end the debate by listing reasons simply. These could be anything from a lack of time to the need for an urgent resolution.
Set a Time Limit
Inform all opposing sides they will have a few minutes to summarize their arguments before the close of the debate and give them a specified time to discuss their arguments and gather information. Set ground rules for the summary, such as no interrupting of an opposing side. If necessary, outline the consequences if they do not follow your rules.
Time the Summary
Use a stopwatch and time each speaker as they give a summary of the main points of their argument. This way, all speakers get an equal opportunity to close and they won't be able to dispute that any side received an unfair advantage. If one person passes the time limit, politely interject and ask for a quick summary so the other party will have time to speak. Although debaters don't have to stick to the limit by the second, it's important to avoid one person talking endlessly at the expense of the other.
Take an Audience Vote
Make a visible list of the main points of each perspective as they summarize and display these, side by side in the same format, so it is easy to distinguish each perspective. Ask if there can be a resolve to the debate by a show of hands for a simple yes or no decision. If the majority votes no, conclude the debate with the reasons why not. If the vote is yes, give extra time for each side to create a list of concessions. To speed things up, agree on a number to list.
Come to a Final Agreement
Set a time limit for extra discussion and count down at regular intervals until each party has reached a common ground. Time and verbalize the final agreement. If the debate consists of many minor details, determine a future timeline to have any necessary documents or drafts completed.
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