________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 14 . . . . March 17, 2006


Talk the Talk: Speech and Debate Made Easy.

Alim Merali.
Edmonton, AB: Gravitas Publishing, 2006.
269 pp., cloth, $35.95.
ISBN 0-9738682-0-1.

Subject Heading:
Debates and debating.


Review by Erin Daniels.

**** /4


Why Debate is the Sport of the Mind

The sport of debate exists in the mind. It requires mental prowess, as opposed to physical prowess. Any injury is to one’s intellectual pride and sense of being right. A debater exerts mental energy and uses the power of voice, not the strength or agility of the body.

It’s a sport of the mind because you play to reach a higher standard. Better arguments. Better counter-arguments. Better style and structure. Like any sport, you can always outperform what you did previously. There’s a tougher opponent out there who will challenge you to debate more effectively than you once thought possible. No case and no argument will ever be perfect. There’s always something greater to achieve. A debater never says, “That’s the best I can do.”


The author, Alim Merali, a past Canadian Student Debating Federation National Champion, developed the debate training at The Speech Studio Inc., a speech communication academy. Merali, who serves on the Alberta Debate and Speech Association’s Board of Directors, has coached speech and debate at high schools as well as directing the Alberta Debate Championships and the Alberta Model Legislature. Talk the Talk is an excellent reference book for students who want to excel at public speaking or for the teachers and coaches who work with debaters. Merali’s treatment of this complex subject is accessible and useful for a variety of readers. His primary audience is the senior student, but it would be equally effective as a resource for those who coach a debate team or those who want to incorporate debate into the regular classroom.

     The structure of the text is easy to follow and logically arranged with chapter previews and summaries. As well, main points are highlighted in bold. and a variety of tips are interspersed as sidebars on many pages. The author covers a comprehensive range of topics in three sections: Part 1 - Road Map: Gear up to Talk the talk, Part 2 - Speech Savvy: Dazzle with a Dynamic Style and Part 3 - Discover Debate: How to Win an Argument. Finally, there are extensive appendices, a glossary and a bibliography. These are helpful in that there is a list of ideas for debate resolutions, judging criteria, and a list related links and resources.

     Especially helpful for the teacher or debate coach is a detailed explanation of several debating warm up games, and reprints of entire debates with commentaries and summary evaluations of what worked and what didn’t. This book covers the basics of speech preparation, organization and delivery as well as the specifics of the parliamentary cross examination and forum types of debate. The author lays out very specifically the types of arguments and rebuttals one can consider adding to his or her debating repertoire. It is a treat to see the logical underpinnings of a winning argument or counterargument explained so cogently with the use of specific examples and illustrations. It is easy to read this book cover to cover or as a manual where you might go directly to the topic or section you need.

     Talk the Talk is an insightful and thorough resource, written by an expert, for the novice and advanced reader alike. It will surely help the novice to become more familiar with the sport of debate as well as help the more experienced debater to win the big championships. This book should also be required reading for anyone interested in helping students at the middle and senior levels become more confident and competitive debaters. I will definitely use the exercises and ideas in found in this book with my own students.

Highly Recommended

Erin Daniels, who has coached debate for six years, is a language arts and social studies teacher at Charleswood School in Winnipeg. MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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