Spicy discussions. They’re fruitful for every organization. And an event is a great context to facilitate this: by means of a panel discussion or a debate. A good discussion starts with a well formulated statement. Easier said than done. That’s why I’m happy to share 8 tips on formulating powerful statements.

1. Formulate positive:

A statement that is formulated negatively, easily raises confusion. E.g. “Alcohol commercials shouldn’t be prohibited”. Instead formulate “Alcohol commercials should be prohibited”. The last statement is clearer and therefore easier to answer!

2. Be controversial:

It’s simple, a statement that everyone agrees with, won’t spark a discussion. Try to be on the edge. How about “In Amsterdam all museums should be freely accessible to everyone”?

3. Stay objective:

Prevent misunderstanding and formulate objectively. Words like “often”, “beautiful” or “difficult” are subjective. “The beautiful city of York should be protected from mass tourism”. What is beautiful for you, might be ugly to somebody else. Therefore and in this case, leave out the word “beautiful”.

4. Prevent doubles:

It easily happens that, without being aware, you put two statements in one formulation. E.g. “Employees should be able to decide on their own working times and days”. In this case you could agree partly: maybe on Friday you find colleagues can decide on their own working times, but not on a Monday. How now to vote? Scan your statement on these types of double statements.

5. Keep it short and simple!

The shorter, more controversial and clearer your statement, the more passionate the discussion with your speakers and audience will be.

6. Let somebody check your statements:

Once you’ve formulated your statements, you might want to ask somebody else to read them. The last thing you want during your event is a discussion or misunderstanding amongst your audience about the formulation of your statement.

7. Brief panelists in advance:

Now that you’re satisfied with your statements, you can brief your panelists ahead of the actual event: this way they can prepare what to say and how to contribute. However, this might be different per occasion: if you want to keep the panel discussion more spontaneous, then obviously don’t do this.

8. Engage your audience:

Panel discussions can easily become static, therefore engage the audience frequently. When introducing a statement among the individual panelists, first let the audience vote ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’ through an interactive voting tool like Sendsteps. Before showing the results, ask a panelist on how he/she thinks the audience will react. Then show the results and either confirm the panel in their reasoning or confront them. For sure you now have an energetic kick-off of your debate or panel discussion!

Need more help to formulate strong statements? Feel free to contact me.From here I wish you insightful and spicy dialogues!