‘Welcome Back’, to the experienced WoWers out there – and a hearty ‘Hello’ to our new students!
So, for the newbies, what is WoW all about?
War of Words (WoW) places individual candidate students in front of a live audience of student judges to argue a one minute defence of a controversial topical position, such as ‘That the UK should abolish its monarchy’. The student has volunteered for the position by commenting ‘I volunteer’ on a blogpost which advertises a number of positions per session, and the position and student is paired-up at random. The candidate will then have a few days to prepare their argument.
On the day of the WoW, the candidate presents their one minute defence from the front of the courtroom, in complete silence from the audience, and is then subjected to questions from the audience, who have prepared impromptu responses while the speaker is presenting, designed to throw the candidate off-balance and test the student’s preparation and resolve.
After around 10 minutes of questioning from the audience, the Chairperson (normally Dan) calls a halt to proceedings and asks the audience for feedback on the candidate’s performance on the following grading criteria; (i) content – what the candidate argues initially and subsequently in response to questions; (ii) presentation – how the candidate presents the argument, how persuasive they are, and how well they control the crowd; (iii) popularity – the public vote.
The judge’s decision will be based on (a) his/her own assessment of the candidate; (b) the feedback on the first two grading criteria; and (c) on the public vote outcome – (a)-(c) are weighted equally.
Candidate students are discouraged from using statistics or empirical ‘facts’ in their arguments, which are hard to verify in the room on the day, and are not generally persuasive in any case. Students should attempt to use subjective ‘everyday’ analogies to make their points and successful students tend to seek to use gently persuasive verbal and body language. Audience members should not be too polite – this is ‘War’ of Words, NOT ‘gentle conversation’ of Words – and candidates will do well to keep clam and stay on-point! However, bullying rhetoric from either candidate or the audience will never be tolerated by the Chairperson.
So, that’s WoW.
The first five positions for the first Weekly WoW session on Thursday 6th October at 6pm in N001, will be posted a few days prior – volunteers will be required, so don’t be shy…