Having decided what sort of trial, where and when, the next step is to advertise the event to attract debaters to it. One big question to deal with is how large your nation is. This might seem silly at first, but when you’re trying to find the very best debaters to represent your nation, you don’t want to miss out on whole sections of the nation. Some nations don’t have a big problem because they are small and easy to travel across or they have excellent transport links but this may not be the case for everyone. Sometimes students get left out of trials and aren’t even considered for the team due to geographical constraints. While we certainly realise that flying everyone in for a tournament is out of the question for almost everyone, we would like to suggest a few ways you could ensure every debater is considered.
First of all, remember that most debaters have a coach; this will probably be a teacher within their school. Sending out notices to all coaches and getting their feedback is a great way to reach more students and perhaps weed through those with less potential. Trials don’t always have to be open to every single debater but we just want to make sure that the reason for not including some debaters has to do with quality and not which school they attend or what part of the nation they live in.
Principals or Head Teachers of schools, when they realise that the event is very prestigious, will benefit many students and could mean that a pupil from their school might represent their nation can usually be very enthusiastic and encouraging. Some organising committees have complied lists of international scholarships and academic achievements by debaters (and WSDC alum do tend to be very high achieving!) to send to the principals of schools to show them how important debating is and why a team from their school should be there. If you can get senior management within a school interested, it is far more likely that they will encourage their staff and students to get involved.
Alternatively, you can offer selection through an open invitation which can be done through making announcements in appropriate mailing lists or in your local media. As we are talking about students around the age of 14-19, you can also consider using other youth friendly methods, namely social networking sites such as facebook or Twitter. The debaters who are interested in participating can then arrange with their coach or school to come to the trials. Establishing links with other youth or educational organisations can also be beneficial as you can promote your activity at their events or in associate with any similar initiatives they might run.
The important thing is that everyone has a chance to compete. If, in the past, only one or two schools have been represented at WSDC, you might want to try contacting other schools to see if they have debating programs. Remember that your team is a national team and, despite the logistical problems involved, the more students who are given a chance to represent their nation, the better.