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Debate chamber

A debate chamber is a room for people to discuss and debate. When used for legislative purposes, it may also be known as a council chamber, legislative chamber, chamber of parliament, or similar term. Debate chambers are used in governmental and educational bodies, such as a parliament, congress, city council, or a university, either for formal proceedings or for informal discourse, such as a deliberative assembly. Some countries, such as Wales and New Zealand, use the term "Debating Chamber" as a formal name for the room that houses the national legislature.

Debating can happen almost anywhere. Whether informal or structured as a discourse between select individuals or small groups with an audience, debates often occur with an audience. The debate does not directly involve the audience as they are not participants - they may even be remote, watching on television. The debating chamber is where the debate participants engage: the stage, panel or council table, or the presentation station. The audience is separate, even if the lines between participants and audience are not always distinct. The positioning of the debating participants is normally oppositional (to each other) or side-by-side in a fan-shape with the focus being the moderator's table (or audience). If there is an audience present, the moderator is normally positioned to the side or with their back to the audience (or cameras). For this style of debate there are more than 2 and rarely more than approximately 15 participants. More than this typically involves a formally debating body or organization, such as a legislative body, which usually meets in a designated place or chamber, often purpose-built for this function.

The configuration of seating affects interpersonal communication on conscious and subconscious levels. For example, negotiations over the shape of a negotiation table delayed the Vietnam War peace talks for almost a year.

Interpersonal communication involves both visual and aural senses. Our eyes and ears (our receptors) need to face our focus of interest. Our faces are important senders of both visual and information (e.g. expressions and voice). We confront and communication directly through "face to face" interaction with our facial sensors and projector "tools" aimed at our communication partner, whether friend or foe. The geometry of position can support or influence a position of opposition/confrontation, hierarchy/dominance, or collaboration/equality. Position can be locational or attitudinal, both, and be supportive or a determining factor of the other. The more direct this is, the more potentially oppositional the position. The less direct, the more "shoulder to shoulder" the position. A two-person (or two-group) meeting can be face-to-face (participants are 180 degrees apart, in opposition), side-by-side (participants are 0 degrees apart, in partnership), or between the two (participants are, for example, 90 degrees apart, in collaboration). Geometry dictates that a circular gathering with three participants provides the only non-oppositional configuration of more than two persons that allows equal sightlines (all 120 degrees apart). The more participants, the greater disparity of sightlines between those sitting immediately adjacent and those more directly across, whose position in turn becomes more oppositional.


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