[eDebate] Experimental NCA panel format

Mitchell, Gordon Roger gordonm
Fri Feb 1 20:46:45 CST 2008

The 2008 National Communication Association convention theme is "unCONVENTIONal," so NCA leadership is encouraging panel proposals featuring innovative formats:

"Program planners are strongly encouraged to try unCONVENTIONal and creative formats for their panels. While some programming constraints are inevitable in planning a convention of this size, every effort will be made to accommodate innovative formats."

For those debate folks inclined to innovate, you might want to consider experimenting with a debate-friendly panel format that was brainstormed and debuted by four very talented former debaters at the 2007 NCA convention in Chicago:


This format has "debate-friendly" virtues that facilitate cross-application of the debater skill set to academic convention settings:

- Multi-layered speaking turns simulate the constructive, block, rebuttal progression of contest rounds
- Interactivity encourages speakers and questioners to spin and pull common discussion threads
- Constant involvement by all panelists showcases debater multi-tasking talent

In addition there is the great added benefit of involving the audience right of the bat, and providing opportunities for audience members to contribute questions at the conclusion of any speaking turn (note that a check against bog-down comes from utilization of the parliamentary debate technique, whereby speakers field questions and note them, but wait to weave direct answers into their next speaking turn).

Again, Danielle, Kevin, Anne Marie and Rae Lynn were absolutely awesome in executing this format in Chicago. I am keen to see if anyone else tries this in San Diego, and if so, to learn of reflections and recommendations coming out of the experience.

* * *

Gordon R. Mitchell
Associate Professor of Communication
Director, William Pitt Debating Union
Deputy Director, Ridgway Center for Security Studies
University of Pittsburgh
CL 1117, 4200 Fifth Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Phone: (412) 624-8531
Fax: (412) 624-1878

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