• Why debating?

    Because what we say should matter just as much as how we say it

    If you're like the vast majority of people who seek out or discover debating for the first time, then you're probably looking to improve your public speaking skills and maybe even help your teams become better speakers too. So, why debating?

     

    Great speakers live by the time-honoured principle that it's not what you say that matters, but how you say it. In other words, delivery matters more than content. That works well when you just need a little help expressing yourself, but what about when your audience starts asking you tough questions or a competitor puts forward an opposing point of view?

     

    This is what debate training will equip you for more than anything else - how to be a great speaker whose ideas can also stand up to scrutiny, whether from an opponent or from your own audience, especially when there is a big decision to be made.

     

    In short, being a great debater will ensure your audience has as much confidence in the quality of your ideas as they do in the quality of your presentation skills. That's why I want my clients be known for what they say just as much as how they say it.

  • Services

    Group workshops

    Popular group workshops with past clients include:

    • Concision and Clarity
      How to condense large amounts of information into talking points and headlines by thinking like a news reporter.
       
    • Mock Boardroom
      A problem-solving exercise, where participants are divided into two opposing teams and required to reach agreement on how to advise a CEO trying to make a difficult decision.
       
    • Tailor your Message
      Participants are given polling data from live debates hosted by the Great Debaters Club and taught how to engage with the viewpoints of their audience in accessible language.

    Consultancy and one to ones

    Popular sessions with past clients include:

    • Media debate coaching
      One to one preparation for a media appearance where you will be expected to debate on air against an opponent.
       
    • Panel debates
      Advising organisations on how to use debate formats to innovate panel discussions, creating an enjoyable and engaging experience for both participants and spectators.
       
    • Presentation and interview training
      One to one preparation for speaking engagements, pitches, and job interviews - includes mock Q&A, objection handling, and crib sheets for key messages and talking points.

    Speaking and moderating

    Past experience includes:

    • TEDx Goodenough
      Delivered a TEDx talk at Goodenough College in 2016 on creating a safe space for debate on university campuses.
       
    • Public debates
      15 years of speaking in public debates on 3 continents in front of audiences of 50 to 1500 and on live television.
       
    • Moderating
      Chaired more than 200 public debates since 2009 including an EU debate in the Houses of Parliament, a debate on the use of personal data for a thought leadership conference, and an international development debate for PwC.

    The Great Debaters Club

    Membership includes:

    • Training workshops
      A combination of masterclasses in key debating skills and mock debates in which to practice and receive feedback.
       
    • Speaking opportunities
      Bi-monthly public debates in front of live audiences with post-debate focus group and trainer feedback summaries.
       
    • Debater network
      Join a community of trainee barristers, corporate directors, journalists, economists, healthcare practitioners, teachers and entrepreneurs. Work together and learn from each other in group exercises and by teaming up for debates.
  • Rates and prices

    May vary depending on the specific requirements of the project - all workshops customisable

    Group workshops

    £1500 for half-day workshop - 20 delegates maximum

    £2500 for full day workshop - 20 delegates maximum

    Consultancy and one to one

    £150 per hour for a minimum of 2 hours

    Fixed price consultancy fees negotiable

    Speaker and moderator fees

    These vary depending on nature and duration of event

    Great Debaters Club membership

    Details of membership tariffs available on club website

  • The Great Debaters Competition 2017

    The annual competition of the Great Debaters Club hosted by education charity, Goodenough College, and delivered in partnership with 8 different campaigning charities. The aim of the event was to put the learnings of Great Debaters Club members into practice by testing the arguments for and against controversial propositions submitted by our partner charities. A full write-up of this event can be read here.

    Debate training for military officers

    A repeat of the same workshop delivered a year before, but this time for a different group of officers and for a different purpose. The officers were selected to represent the Ecole De Guerre as speakers and debate judges in the annual competition of the Great Debaters Club. This workshop was dedicated to preparing them for those roles with one of their two speaker teams reaching the final of the competition despite being the only team that spoke English as a second language.

    Communicating and engaging with stakeholders

    This one-day workshop was delivered for the finance team of renewable energy team, Low Carbon. The objective of this workshop was to help finance specialists communicate clearly with both internal and external stakeholders from non-finance backgrounds. This involved exercises on how to reduce detailed reports into talking points and headlines as well as advising senior decision-makers and anticipating likely objections.

    Thought leadership debate on personal data

    A 1-month project with advertising agency, Vizeum, to plan and moderate a debate on the use of personal data for the company's thought leadership conference. This was quite different from most panel debates as the aim was not to ask the speakers for their personal opinions, but to train them to be advocates for the diverse range of perspectives shaping the debate. This involved facilitating teams of C-Suite speakers to prepare their cases, writing training materials, and moderating the debate itself on the day.

    The full write-up of this fascinating project can be found here.

    Debate training for marketing strategists

    My most recent project and hopefully an ongoing one after a successful first phase. Dentsu Aegis Network, a collection of global marketing agencies under one umbrella, took the step of creating their own debate club to discuss important issues and trends in the marketing industry. I assisted them by judging their in-house debates, and offering personalised feedback to speakers, to complement the one day workshop I delivered on how to structure and analyse different types of arguments.

    Speaking with concision and clarity

    A two hour workshop for a staff way day with a specific goal. The manager who sourced this training session wanted to help his team condense large amounts of data into clear and concise presentations without emitting key details. I used the example of newspaper stories to show them how to turn detailed reports into headlines and talking points.

    Debate training for military officers

    A one-day intensive workshop for a group of 16 French military officers, from the École De Guerre in Paris, to complement their own training programme. The aim of the workshop was to help the officers quickly generate and articulate arguments in spoken English in preparation for a competition against their UK counterparts, which they duly won.

    Leading Difficult Conversations course

    Three successful 8-week courses on debating and its applications for the Lambeth Adult Learning Service. The course was designed for unemployed adult learners, some with language or learning difficulties, to show them how to apply debating skills in their everyday lives. This included dealing with disagreements at home, applying for jobs and conducting themselves in the workplace, and reacting to extremism in the community.

    Dealing with disagreement in the workplace

    A two hour interactive workshop for an enterprise client of the School of Life on how to use the principles of debating to navigate unavoidable disagreement. The client, a well known media agency, wanted to know how to manage disagreements over strategic decision making or ethical dilemmas without damaging valuable relationships. The workshop provided them with a framework for detecting and preventing the mis-representation of their opinions along with advice on how to install the values and customs required to facilitate respectful and constructive debate in the workplace. 

    Debate workshop on Scottish Independence

    The University of Aberdeen flew me up to Scotland for this half day workshop in September with a group of research scientists and PhD students. I carried out an analysis of the arguments made by both sides and then took them through a step by step guide to debating the issue for themselves, using my bespoke methodology. 

    Debating for Toastmasters

    A long-standing friendship became a valued partnership when Canary Wharf's Toastmasters clubs combined to host me for an evening of debate training. After a short presentation on how to write and deliver a persuasive speech that can hold up under scrutiny, a panel of volunteers put theory into practice in a series of quickfire debates. Another workshop with the London Athenians in Hammersmith followed later with more on the horizon in the future.

     

    Debating Masterclass for international students

    Regent's College is one of the few educational institutions to offer public speaking as an accredited course. I have been invited on several occasions to deliver a masterclass in debating as part of the course with a view to Regent's one day becoming the first British university to formally offer debating as a recognised qualification. 

    Young Mayors Training Programme

    A six week leadership course for the 25 applicants to become Young Mayor of Tower Hamlets, aged 15-17. My remit was to develop a fun and engaging programme on how to be an active and responsible Young Mayor. This consisted of six 2 hour workshops on all the key skills required for the position, including: public speaking, community engagement, lobbying policy makers, time management, and event planning. My assessment of the applicants will inform the council's short-listing of the 15 candidates who will contest the election next January.

    Youth Council Debate Training

    After hosting a public debate on the proliferation of betting shops in my home borough of Tower Hamlets, I was invited to work with the Youth Council. My remit was to help them articulate their views on the key issues facing their communities, from tackling knife crime and substance abuse to reforming education and the reducing the voting age to 16. Following a successful review, I look forward to continuing my partnership with this impressive group of young men and women.

  • Resources

    Great Debaters Competition 2017

    The results of a day of a collaboration with eight campaigning charities designed to confront bias and challenge taboos.

    Structured debates v panel discussions

    A case study and comparison of structured debates
    and panel discussions as thought-leadership tools.

    Analysing the sexual harassment debate

    Review of a C4 News debate on sexual harassment and advice on how to ask the right questions on sensitive issues

    Debating sexism in science

    Analysis of a TV debate on sexism in science and tips on how to win arguments when your views are being distorted.

  • About Tony

    Career history

    • Three years as a Press and PR officer for public and voluntary sector organisations, including: Association of Chief Police Officers, Healthcare Commission and Luton Council.
       
    • Five years as a talent acquisition specialist in the IT and telecoms industry and the voluntary sector, assisting hiring managers with interviews, training employees on company policies, and screening CVs and cover letters from candidates.
       
    • Five years as Managing Director and Lead Trainer of the Great Debaters Club, the UK's only debate club and year-round training programme.

    Speaking experience

    Causes and interests

    • Led a team of volunteer debate trainers to Rwanda in 2013 and 2014 to run a national debate training programme with youth advocacy charity idebate Rwanda.
       
    • Currently volunteer for International Debate Education Association (IDEA) as a mentor in Lambeth College, working with students to set up their own debate club and run weekly training and practice sessions.
       
    • A former council candidate in the London Borough of Camden and  parliamentary Campaign Executive Secretary in Hampstead and Kilburn Liberal Democrats in 2010. 
  • How to contact me

    Email works best for inquiries and will be responded to the quickest