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Authored by Emily and Thaddeus (who is newly married), so that mysterious “I” voice will be one of us.


Time and time again, every Ethos coach answers the same question. “Why Ethos?” The question usually insinuates one of two things:

1)      Why should I get coaching period?

2)      Why should I choose Ethos over the other options available to me?

Have you ever asked that question or a similar one? What’s the BIG deal with Ethos?

The short answer is this:

For every student, there comes a day, when competitive debate is over. The student debates their last high school or college round. After that day, all the skills so carefully curated during the competitive season must be transferred into adult life or are lost forever.

Invariably, there are a set of skills that people derive from just existing inside and competing in a debate league; rhetorical skills, analytical skills, presentation skills, speech crafting etc.

But usually, those skills are masked by what the competition or the league required of the student. Real life never looks like a high school debate round.

I (Thaddeus) had a good friend in high-school who won nationals in impromptu and we ended up going to the same college together. Our freshman year of college, we both competed in AMCA (Moot Court – a grueling forensic- which mimics the supreme court, the debaters present in front of lawyers and ex-judges, and these parties cross-examine your entire presentation). We were prepping with a group of students and my friend expressed how nervous she was that she might get up in front of the judges and forget what she wanted to say or be tongue-tied. I quickly reminded her that not 6 months prior she had won a national award, beating out many thousands of other competitors, in the category of speaking off-the-cuff and with almost no prep time.

She sat there for a second, and all the sudden the light bulb came on.

She was so caught up in tying her skills to the RULES of impromptu speaking that she forgot she had developed an entire skillset centered around public speaking. She went on to go to finals in AMCA.  

See, here is the cool thing. ALL the arguments and skills used in debate rounds are successful because they mirror something much more potent in the real world.

Ethos seeks to teach students the real version of what will help them in their career. As a side benefit, it will also help them win debate rounds, and sometimes nationals. Other coaching institutions will merely teach the student great strategies and practices for winning debate rounds. That is absolutely great, and we support that. However, we focus on leading the student towards becoming a more mature and persuasive communicator, who can win rounds, and then also better their relationships and career. The longer we exist in the debate community, the rarer we realize our philosophies and methods are.

How do we accomplish this? Ethos fosters real-world communication through three concrete ways:

  • We teach debate ethics. Ethos coaches have a long history of teaching only the highest order of professional communique, procedure, and ethical standards. We teach students to treat their opposition and audience not as opponents, but in the same way they will need to treat future colleagues.
  • We encourage utilizing all aspects of the 7 forms of proof/evidence. In normal relationships and day-jobs, humans are called on to present evidence that proves their point and also is attractive to the audience. The right evidence for the wrong audience is the wrong evidence. Choosing evidence by which your audience will be persuaded, however, can be cherry-picking if you are refuting an opponent’s arguments. Where do you draw the line? Ethos coaches will help walk students through these dilemmas instead of merely training them to win at all costs.
  • We teach how, not just what. Sadly most persuasive communication in the real world isn’t done by what the student says but by how they say it. Non-verbal communication tactics and psychology plays a huge part in judge bias and future relationships at work. Basic eye contact strategies, hand gestures, vocal intonation, etc. can all communicate a very confident, assertive tone, which is persuasive to future bosses, and general audiences.  

And more. In all we do, we teach our students HOW to think and HOW to communicate: not WHAT. Debate coaches all around various leagues and companies will say this. While it’s an attractive moniker, it’s just thrown around sometimes. Regardless of the cost, Ethos chooses to coach ethics, out-of-the-box methods, and critical thinking: stretching the student’s mind to not only think more divergently (thinking about an issue from multiple points of view), but also more rapidly.

We teach divergent thinking by broadening our student’s knowledge base via research and analytical techniques (The Fridge Drill). Then, we drill impromptu and rapid analytical argument creation. The combination allows students to create persuasive and attractive arguments with deep ties to reality, as well as do it much more rapidly and effectively than their opponents.

Should debate just be considered a sport? Should coaches just exist to help students win more? Or is critical thinking and alluring oratory a greater skill that helps the individual as well as those around them?

Ethos exists to make the student a more persuasive communicator. That’s why Ethos is not like any other debate company. Any coach can teach you CX. Any coach can teach you 4-point refutation. Any coach can improve your speaker points. We do what other companies cannot. Ethos is a unique blend of real-life communications professionals and experts, offering much more than mere debate knowledge. While other coaches may focus their efforts on winning debate tournaments, we show our students that winning debate tournaments is a piece of cake when you master communication and rhetoric as an art.  We get it. It’s not about debate. It’s not about winning tournaments. It’s about becoming the best. It’s about remaining the best even after your high-school glory days are dead and gone. We teach students how to become masterful communicators for the sake of truth and persuasion, not their own glory. When you learn how to win over hearts, first-place trophies are just icing on the cake.

Ethos teaches students to become effective communicators. It’s time to become the best communicator you know.


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