• About

    Tony Koutsoumbos is the Director and founder of the UK's only professional debate training programme and membership organisation, the Great Debaters Club. Tony has worked with government bodies, multi-national companies, and chambers of court to deliver training on how to apply the principles of adversarial debating to resolving everyday disagreements, engaging with diverse stakeholder groups, and making strategic decisions.

  • Contact me about

    Group workshops

    Popular group workshops with past clients include:

    • Presenting to non-expert decision-makers
      How to condense large quantities of data into the concise talking points senior decision-makers need to know.
    • Engaging with stakeholder objections
      How to look at the same issue from different perspectives and think like someone who disagrees with you, so you can advise them from their point of view and not just yours.
    • Staff induction training workshops
      The delivery of standard induction workshops through the medium of interactive debate, simulating scenarios where employees must decide how to apply company policies.

    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.
  • Debating in the court of public opinion

    A one-hour interactive workshop for aspiring barristers studying at the Honourable Society of Middle Temple on how to bridge the divide between presenting legal arguments to a judge and defending them to non-expert audiences, such as juries. The group's priorities were to understand how the two debating styles differed and to learn how to deal with a biased audience and opponents who exploit those biases to win debates. After taking the group through some strategies for addressing these challenges (see presentation below), Tony facilitated an impromptu debate so they could put their skills into practice and received personalised feedback.

    Stakeholder engagement and persuasion

    A one-day workshop for a team of engineers from the Canadian Coast Guard, delivered in Ottawa, Canada. The focus of the workshop was to help participants stay calm under pressure when challenged and learn how to present evidence-based advice to non-expert audiences. This included facilitating debates in which one participant was required to always disagree with the others to see how they handled his objections, and role-playing scenarios where they would have to work together to help a fictional CEO solve a problem and critique each other's advice.

    Debate training for international scholars

    This one-week training programme was delivered entirely by Skype for two teams of international speakers for a debate on the impact of globalisation and technology. Regarded as leaders of their fields, including finance, journalism, and medicine, in their home countries, all the speakers were new to debating, so the programme included a webinar for each team for them to discuss their subject and agree on a strategy for the debate, followed by a one to one to help them prepare their individual speeches.
    A write-up of the debate itself can be found here.

    Offering expert advice to non-expert audiences

    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.

    Using public debate as a thought leadership tool

    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

    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. Tony assisted them by judging their in-house debates, and offering personalised feedback to speakers, to complement a one day workshop 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. Tony used the example of newspaper stories to show them how to turn detailed reports into headlines and talking points.

    Debating in English for non-native speakers

    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. Tony 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. Tony has 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. Tony's 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. Tony's assessment of the applicants informed 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, Tony was invited to work with the Youth Council, his remit 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. This led to Tony being asked to run the council's Young Mayor's training programme.

  • Resources

    How to respond to unconscious bias

    As experts work to improve the quality of unconscious bias training, what practical steps can we take to address it?

    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.

    Three things everyone should know about preparing for a job interview 

    What interviewing for jobs, interviewing others for jobs and coaching others for job interviews has taught me about how to prepare effectively and learn from the experience.

    How to write a persuasive cover letter
    in just fifteen minutes

    The most common mistakes people make when writing a cover letter and a step by step guide to giving yourself the best possible chance of securing an interview.

When you share your personal data on this website, you are consenting to being contacted by Tony Koutsoumbos for either: the specific purpose of finding out more about a specific event, product, or service on offer; or the general purpose of being added to a mailing list to receive updates on events, products, or services on offer. 
This business is operated by the Great Debaters Club Ltd, whose privacy policy can be viewed at: http://www.greatdebaters.co.uk?open=privacy-policy