Guidelines for Lyceum Debates

The objective of Lyceum Debates is to restore civil discourse in the United States. Our format aims to reward solution-centric discussion and offer an alternative to conventional political debate formats that argue either-or resolutions. Lyceum debates are conducted virtually and take about 30 minutes to record, giving each of 3 or more participants equal speaking time. The final videos are edited and produced to guarantee equal speaking time.

Advice for Participants

  • Debates will be conducted and recorded over an online platform (Riverside) 
  • Participants should be dressed formally — the same as a television interview.
  • Participant camera (laptop or otherwise) should be at eye level.
  • Use strong front lighting for your face, and a professional background.


  1. Structure. Three people make three recommendations aimed at one problem. Each participant gets three minutes to make their main points, two minutes to cross-examine the other participants (and two minutes to be cross-examined), and two minutes to summarize.
  2. Time. The total duration is 23 minutes
    1. Strict enforcement will make sure each participant has equal talk time
    2. If a participant exceeds their time during the live recording, their remarks will be edited down to fit the allotted slot for the version that is recorded and released. 
    3. Edits will never be made for content, only for time.
  3. Format. There are three parts to each debate: main remarks, cross-examinations, and closing remarks. Debates will open and close with a brief intro and outro. The primary format for the 3-person debate (with speakers A, B, and C) will be:
  • 3 min  – Main Remarks by A
  • 2 min cross-ex  – B&C question, A answers
  • 3 min  – Main Remarks by B
  • 2 min cross-ex  – C&A question, B answers
  • 3 min  – Main Remarks by C
  • 2 min cross-ex  – A&B question, C answers
  • 2 min  – A final remarks
  • 2 min  – B final remarks
  • 2 min  – C final remarks
  1. Cross-examinations. Each speaker will be asked questions by one participant immediately after their main remarks. The questioner can pose 2-3 questions, but must be brief in the questioning (taking no more than 30 seconds total). The speaker will have  roughly 30 seconds to reply to each question. The entire cross-examination should take 2 minutes, and answers will be edited during post-production accordingly.


Following the debate, viewers will be encouraged to (1) vote for the top ideas that were presented. Importantly, they will be able to vote for a mix of ideas from the different debaters. Votes will also be taken for (2) the most persuasive speaker and (3) the most educational speaker . This wide array of votes will enable us to reward debaters with more than just a win/loss in traditional formats.