Bringing Back the Symposium
My friends had a spirited debate after too many drinks. I suggested bringing back the Greek-style symposium, and it lead to a far more interesting debate.
First, we agreed on time - two minutes. Then someone kept the time, and motioned to indicate when only thirty second remained.
Everyone felt heard, nobody interrupted each other (well they did a bit, but the timekeeper added more time to account for it), and we suffered far less repetition. When a subject arose I didn’t have any care for, I remained silent, which shortened the debate.
One important rule; once someone has said their piece, they should not raise the subject for the remainder of the night. Once you finish, you finish, and anyone who cannot state their point within two minutes shouldn’t say anything at all.
Since then, we’ve tried it again, and added that a new round can take place, with half the original time. All in all, the current conventions are as follows:
- The question has to be stated clearly first.
- Someone should be a timekeeper.
- Everyone speaks for a maximum of two minutes, then one minute on the next round, and so on.
- There is no turn order - whoever wants to jump in just starts.
- People don’t have to disagree, they can just expand upon others’ points, or speak in any way relevant to the question.
In general, the timekeeper sorts disagreements and reminds people when their time is running low. The timekeeper should also add extra time to someone’s answer if anyone interrupts.