Florida Blue Key Speech and Debate Tournament
2022 — Gainesville, FL/US
Congress Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
My favorite event is Extemp, so I treat all debaters like I would a national finalist in Extemp. Talk at a human pace so that the audience can understand the debate, but feel free to extend your impacts as far as possible pending you keep up the warrants for each claim. Impact turns make debate more fun, try to turn them. Work to cross apply your contentions to your opponents impacts. Making voting claims that I missed during the round won't be used to judge the round. The speakers have a duty to communicate what they want the audience to hear, the judge has a duty to listen to the best of their ability and shouldn't feel burdened by advanced debaters who go beyond the judge's means. I've got a PhD in Communication Studies and embrace a qualitative perspective, values matter. Be smart, be concise, and be respectful. If you can deliver the argument well, feel free to also be creative. For what it's worth, demanding language is a peeve, as opposed to suggestive; in voters, please tell me what I should(n't) do rather than what I can't do.
I am a rising junior at the University of Florida studying political science and journalism. Having been involved with speech and debate for my four years of high school and becoming my team's congress captain, there's a lot to think about when giving your speeches. In short, my recommendations are as follows:
- There should be a logical structure to what should be a 3 minute speech, it will be hard to give good ratings for people trying to shout over gavel tapping.
- Part of that logical structure entails utilizing sections of the legislation in conjunction with your point as to why the legislation is good or bad. Cite the legislation!
- Following your logical analysis of your claim or evidence, there should be a strong impact proving your point - if the legislation could cause people to die (like a military aid bill, for example), talk about how significant those consequences could be whether they are positive or negative.
- Decorum is super important. There are ways to poke holes in other people's arguments without becoming disrespectful.
Overall, I made some of the best memories of my high school career in congress, so come prepared and have a good time.
My Email: email@example.com
Hi! I'm Isaac. I am a rising junior at George Washington University in D.C. and I competed in Congressional Debate for four years as a student at Pennsbury High School in Pennsylvania. I competed extensively on the national circuit, obtaining 11 bids to the TOC and I was lucky enough to place/final at tournaments like Harvard, Princeton, Sunvite, Blue Key, Barkley Forum (Emory), Durham, UPenn, and Villiger.
Now that I've given some of my background as a competitor I can discuss what that means in terms of what I like to see as a judge. In my opinion, this can best be summarized like this;
stick to 2 points
don't speak too fast
try to get to 2:50-3 minutes
arguments flow in linear way and flow broad to narrow with a terminalized impact (human beings should be your impact)
use refutation after 1st cycle
I like well 2 well developed arguments over 3 poorly constructed ones
Stick to legislation what does the legislation do
cite good sources
present links clearly
Don’t spread (speak so quickly I can’t understand you)
use good sources (try not to use news articles, stick to research)
arguments flow in linear fashion (I should be able to see where you go from point A to point B to point C)
give me a human reason to vote for your side (this means establish the human impact why the issue directly impacts a human person)
no theory please (stick to arguing the facts, data, and information of the issues at hand in the motion)
Please sign post arguments (tell me that you are about to make a big point before you do)! I need this for flowing purposes
Hi, my name is Justine Asman. I am currently a student at the University of Florida. I have a background of 2 years of High School Duos and Congress but currently compete on the Mock Trial Program as a UFLitigator. My best advice is to be confident, concise, and calm. For Congress stick to two arguments and have a clear statement in mind.
Hey everyone, my name is Gianna and I'm a freshman at the University of Florida studying political science and journalism. I competed in PF and Congress during high school. During the round and when asking for sources be respectful to your opponents. Give clear analysis, impacts, and implications. Talk at a human pace but feel free to extent your impacts keeping in mind your warrant stays in tact. Tech > Truth.
Email for docs: Gianna.firstname.lastname@example.org
- I have taught communication and/or coached competitive debate and forensics since 2011.
- I judge on state and national circuits.
- I serve on the NSDA committee for Arkansas.
- I like clash, clear argumentation, and make sure to warrant and impact your claims.
- Respect each other.
- I do not tolerate bigotry or racism in a debate.
- Spreading outside of policy or progressive LD
- One sided debate in congressional
- I take a tabula rasa (clean slate) approach.
- When it comes to the material of the case, I look at who can best present the argument and why their case outweighs their opponents.
- I use a combination of evidence, argumentation, clash, speaking skills, etc... to determine the winner.
- I do not disclose the win/loss at the end of a round unless directed by Tab.
- Delivery should be extemporaneous in nature. A smooth cadence with interaction with the chamber is great.
- Be sure to maximize your allotted time.
- Evidence should be used for substantiation.
- Decorum should simulate that of a congressional chamber, that being said it is good to remember to have fun as well.
- I use a combination of delivery, evidence, analysis, decorum, and speaks to determine both speech value and rankings.
In general, my Paradigm includes strong arguments that shows inherency to why you made that claim. You must have well-constructed and organized speeches, with strong evidence to back up any claims that you make. You must also be able to present your argument well with a strong speech. I look for debaters who are able to properly convey their argument while being articulate. You should be able to convince me that the claim that you make regarding the bill is solvent and overall show why that side is the side to support.
My pronouns are they/them/theirs. Please do not call me ma’am. I know it's a southern respect thing but it's icky to me. If you need a title for me, I unironically like being called judge, Judge Contreras is fine, just Contreras works too. My students call me Coach, and that's also fine. Teens, please don't call me El (that's one southernism I stand by!)
Head Coach and social studies teacher at L.C. Anderson High School in Austin, TX since 2022.
San Marcos High School- I competed all four years in high school, I did extemp, congress, and UIL Policy.
I will not rank a triggering performance first. I just won’t do that. There’s no need for you to vividly reenact violence and suffering at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning (or like, ever). Triggering performances without trigger warnings will have their rank reflect the performance. Use your talent to tell a story, not to exploit pain. Also, normalize giving content and trigger warnings before your performance!! Give people a chance to take care of themselves. If I'm judging your round and another competitor triggers you, you are welcome to quietly get up and walk out during their performance. I will not dock or punish you for this, your mental health is the most important. Please take care of yourself and each other!! I'm in a "you should do a different piece" mindset on this issue and if you can't reenact that narrative without exploiting suffering, something is wrong.
Debate comments (PF, LD, CX, World Schools)
Just disclose. I know LD's norm is sending 30 minutes before round, I think that's a great norm.
In PF, send case docs. Don't be secretive with your cards. Your opponents should not have to disclose a disability in order to get you to send docs. I also think sending a speech doc for rebuttal and summary is a good norm. This is not (necessarily) something I'll down you for but it could be, if you're intentionally being harmful.
I will evaluate anything as long as it's warranted and extended. I won't make arguments for you, tell me why and how you're winning. I'll vote tech over truth unless the truth overwhelms the tech. Sticky defense is so fake, extend your arguments if you want to win them. Unextended = dropped. Proper extensions, tag and cite, claim, warrant, impact!!
Both partners need to participate in grand cross. PF is a partner event! No, you can't skip grand cross. I'm listening to cross and waiting to hear the questions from cross brought into round.
Please do a www.speechdrop.net room, it is a fantastic site, and I will definitely pop in and read cards and cases if you have the speechdrop room set up. Always send case, always send speech docs. I am #notsponsored, just a fan! My email is down below.
Spell out all the abbreviations you use in round. Don’t assume I know what you’re talking about. People know what the UN is, the EU, etc, people may not know BRI, any random trade agreement, etc.
speed: You don't have to go at a conversational pace but nobody should be full-on-spreading in PF. When you're off the doc, you have to go slower. I try not to flow off the doc but I will use it as support if you're faster than I can follow. I'm not in a debate round to read off your case doc, I'm in round to hear YOU. Slow down on taglines, analytics, authors- basically anything you think is vital to my decision.
- I'll vote on anything but getting me to vote on framework in a PF round is an uphill battle, especially if it's not fully developed. saying "we have a framework" is not sufficient to win on framework
- extensions are not just saying "Extend my contention 2", you must extend the card tag/cite and the claim, warrant, and impact! Let me hear the link chain again!!
- speaker points- these national tournaments keep giving me a rubric to use and I'm trying to apply that to all the realms I judge in. Points start at 28 and I adjust from there. Points will only be below a 27 if you did something harmful or rules/norms were horribly broken.
- yes I'll vote on anything, but no I don't want to hear K's 95% of the time. If you read a K, I still expect you to interact with your opponent's case. There is not a lot of room for theory in PF. I reject the policy debatification of PF.
- PFers, please read cards with actual taglines. "furthermore", "and", are not taglines. A tag is the thesis of the card, it is the summary of the content. I've been seeing a lot of that lately- it's lazy and bad practice.
- I don't judge LD often, not as comfortable with LD speeds but I'll use the doc
- I will evaluate k's, as long as they're well-developed and defended. i know theory is normative in LD and I'll do my best to evaluate it fairly and wisely
- I know this event is generally more technical but again, don't assume I know what you're talking about!! spell out all your abbreviations, provide definitions (especially if you're reading a K), do your best to make the round and the space more accessible!
This message is specifically for competitors in debate events; I value respect in the round. Please don’t be rude in front of me. It doesn’t make me laugh, it reminds me of uncomfortable/unpleasant rounds where my competitors were rude to me or my partner. That has no business in a debate space, please don’t bring that energy into a round. This goes double for people in privileged positions who make women and gender/racial minorities uncomfortable or unsafe in the debate space. Not only will I chew you out and tank your speaks, but I will also let your coach know about the harmful practices. it's on all of us to make the debate space inclusive and equitable.
TLDR- be nice, be kind, and be self-aware.
I did congressional debate all four years I competed in high school, I really enjoyed it and love watching a good Congress round. I have a lot of respect for a strong PO and usually reward that with a higher ranking. POs that struggle with precedence, maintaining decorum, and Robert's rules of order will have that reflected in their rank.
Clash, clash, clash! Put the debate into congressional debate.
There's a line between sassy and rude. Tread it carefully.
something that I genuinely appreciate in every event is a trigger warning before potentially triggering performances and speeches. controversially, I care about all of your experiences in a round and would like to give everyone an opportunity to opt out. If you’re a spectator or a competitor in a speech room, you deserve the opportunity to step out. If you’re competing in a debate round, you have every right to ask your competitors to read a version of their case that excludes the triggering material. As a judge, I reserve the right to step out/turn off my camera for a moment before you give your performance.
In a debate round, I’d appreciate that triggering material cut out. I don’t think intense/graphic depictions of human suffering add much to your overall case anyway, I’d rather you extend cards in that time or frontline or do anything besides exploit human suffering.
If I correct your pronunciation of a word in my ballot, it’s genuinely to educate you. It’s hard to know how to pronounce a word you’ve never heard aloud, just read (looking at you, Reuters!)
I have a degree in history, with a focus on Latin American history. Keep that in mind when discussing issues focused on Latin America. Feel free to ask me for a reading list to better understand conflicts, revolutions, and government suppression (including US intervention) in Guatemala, Argentina, Honduras, El Salvador, and more.
If you are spectating an event and are fully texting in front of me or attempting to talk to/distract a competitor, I’m going to ask you to leave. I will not warn you once, I have a zero-tolerance policy for disrespecting competitors or interfering with competition in that way.
My email: email@example.com
Hey, everyone! My name is Faith Corbett and I am a Junior at the University of Florida. I competed in Congressional Debate all four years of high school and dabbled in public forum and lincoln-douglas during my senior year of high school. I am a sitting student senator at UF, so I understand robert's rules pretty extensively.
I've competed both locally and nationally (go panther district!). Some of the bigger tournaments I've attended were Blue Key, Princeton, Harvard, UPenn, etc. I have also been able to attend NSDA and NCFL nationals on multiple occasions.
I created this paradigm for my rounds at Blue Key, so these guidelines are specifically for congress.
I appreciate when the first round of debate is pretty informative on a bill's topic. Going further into the round you should include more of a refutation style. I think that speed hurts you more in congress than it does other debate forms, make sure your arguments are clear and concise. Impacts are really useful in congress even though we don't see them often, I encourage this.
Understanding the context of congress has always been interesting, it's a role-playing event; make sure you're having fun with it and utilizing this role to your advantage.
Hi! I debated Congress in high school for four years and have judged a couple times. I am super excited to judge every round! I understand that it can be nerve-racking, but I am here to support you and just offer ways to become a better debater in my ballots/outline what you can work on. Try to be active in rounds and have fun! <3
- Definitely a fan of structured speeches, I would like to visualize/know where you are in your speech (for instance, CWDAI), moving between points is helpful!
- DEBATE THE BILL NOT THE PROBLEM.
- PLEASE HAVE A WARRANT. You should be able to explain logically why your point is true, then back it up by necessary data, I do not like when the premise of a point is made and it is not furthered logically and is assumed that the data will make up for it.
- Have an analysis to your data. After stating your data, explain how it relates to your claim/warrant and fit it into the scope of the debate.
- Impacts are very important! Please weigh both sides of the debate and why your viewpoints are better.
- For every speech after the authorship/sponsorship, you should have refutation (please be respectful while refuting! As in do not demean them during it :( please).
- For authorship speeches, it is very helpful to explain the issue well (why did you make this bill?)
- For crystallized speeches, summarize the debate well and have ample refutations!
- I rank you if you maintain a good round!
- Please explain your procedures prior to presiding!
- Have good knowledge of the motions that people may provide.
- Keep recency, maintain a good flow of the chamber.
Hello! I am Geetha Dwarakapuram. I am a senior technology manager at Bank of America. As for public speaking and giving speeches, I speak on a daily basis in front of large groups of people as part of my job. I am also a volunteer at a local youth Toastmasters club. My son and daughter are both active competitors in Congressional Debate.
Congress: I like to look for concise speeches that support the argument with evidence contradicting the opposing side. I also look for senators and representatives that mention others to enhance their ideas. I highly frown upon rehash but enjoy listening to speakers who engage the audience with their take on the bills. While your speaking style and delivery are, of course, an important part of the overall package, it is congressional debate after all, so I'll always rank a less polished speaker with better arguments higher than somebody who's a great orator but isn't providing something new or doesn't have the same quality of evidence. For presiding officers, I mainly judge if they do not stick out to me during the session and run a smooth and steady round.
Speech: I look for eye contact and a powerful voice when talking. I should be able to understand what you are talking about and like to be engaged throughout the whole speech. I enjoy speeches that have a memorable ending, or " end with a bang" as I like to call it. For dramatic speech events, I should be able to feel the emotion that you are trying to show with your voice. Time limits are something I look at when deciding scores.
Hi, I have competed in Student Congress all 4 years of High School. I have experience competing in both the local and the national circuit. I am someone who enjoys listening to refutation and I like confrontation in direct cross-examination. I also expect after the first round of Aff-Neg I hear some refutation, I value arguments over rhetoric. I do not like rehash unless there is some continuation or update of the argument, and towards the end of the round, I would like to hear a half-ref or a crystal. I am someone who also ranks the PO for doing a good job. I view the round as through the macro-sense meaning when I rank someone it is dependent on their wholistic impact on the round on the confluence of their speaking, questioning, and being a leader. I rank people equally whether they give an early-round speech or a late-round speech so I do not give free ranks depending on how you speak on the round. Also, I am comfortable with reading and understanding in-round Amendment however if the Amendment is found dilatory I frown upon that, as the prerogative is on the author of the Amendment to make sure that it is relevant and is not contradictory to the legislation.
I am a former Congressional debater and previously served as the Head Coach of Speech and Debate at Oak Hall School.
I like a balance between speaking skills and debate. Please have clash in your speech if you are not the 1st speaker.
Also, do not rehash. If someone has already said the argument, there is no need to clarify and repeat what they meant in your speech - I got it, let's see something new.
If you are a good PO, I will rank you highly. If not, well...
If you have any questions please feel free to ask before or in between rounds.
I am a parent judge; however, I am also a 30-year educator in English. Speech and Theater, so I appreciate the art of a strong debate and the nuances of a strong speaker. What will stand out in a round?
Hubris: Check your ego at the door; pride that brings about a fall is called that for a reason. Humility is much more impressive; your skills should speak for themselves and your respect of your competitors will NATURALLY flow from a humble place.
Evidence: NSDA rules dictate that an author and year must be cited. Research that is not your own will be clear.
Rhetoric: This is what I love most about Congress; there is an element of theater to it. Many can spit facts and research like a robot; few can give impassioned arguments that not only persuade but also elevate and further the discourse on the topic.
Structure: Your argument’s structure should be clear. You are either discussing a problem and proposing a solution or you are refuting that proposal with solid reasoning and evidence.
Respect: It should be given and received. You should consider yourself on equal footing with everyone walking in the room to begin the round. If you prove in your approach to your competitors in direct questioning that they do NOT deserve your respect by your cutting them off or attempting to discount them or dismiss them just by speaking more loudly or OVER them, it will affect your speaker points and rank.
Round: Contribute what’s NEEDED to the round and not what you have. IE: If you’re the last speaker, I expect a crystal; if you’re the sponsor, I expect you to lay a solid framework.
PO: It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. The indispensable nature of a great PO to a round is not lost on me. Someone who banks on being a PO because he/she is unprepared for the round should think twice about running for PO. A great PO is fair, efficient and confidently runs the round so that fellow competitors can showcase their strengths; an ineffective PO can derail the round just as easily. I will always consider the importance of the PO in rankings.
The “It” Factor: If I am still thinking about your previous statement before you speak your next because it was THAT compelling, you likely have “it.” If your research is thought-provoking and catches my attention because it is the only approach to the topic I’ve seen in the round, you likely have, “it.” If your presence and power as a speaker is so strong that even your competitors stop typing on their laptops to simply listen to what you are saying, you likely have, “it.” And the “it” factor makes me remember your name from the first time you speak. The rank will reflect this. Do you have “it?”
I expect to see and hear a clear, succinct presentation of your work. I have a teaching background in healthcare and listen and judge clinical presentations. I appreciate positive, non-confrontational attitude from participants. Please try to avoid talking over each other.
Thanks, and good luck.
I mostly judge Speech and Congress. If you're competing in Speech and poring over paradigms, what exactly are you doing with your life?
I used to think Congress judging is in violation of the Eighth Amendment, but I've slowly come around from the dark side. Some things I look for: (1) I have my preferences as a Speech judge, so starting with an AGD (brief) is usually a good idea. (2) If you're an early speaker (author, sponsor, etc.), comfort with your speech is paramount. If you rely on your notes more than absolutely necessary, I'll hold that against you. If you cannot commit a three-minute speech to memory with weeks (or months) of notice, do not author/sponsor a bill or volunteer to go first/second. (3) Speakers that come later in the session must absolutely coopt or refute earlier speakers' arguments (and not just cursorily). If you do not do so, you will find yourself staring at a ballot closer to a 9 than a 1. (4) Beyond point (3), I place a premium on value-add for speakers 3 and beyond (i.e., what new ideas or arguments can you bring to the session that moves the debate (significantly) forward?). (5) I value data and evidence (shocking, I know). CD bills typically tackle current topics, so more recent cites are of greater value. (6) Every debate can be reduced to weighing impact. Most stats can be sliced using glass-half-full and glass-half-empty filters, so it's important that you parse your arguments properly and provide proper context. (7) I don't subscribe to tech-over-truth, esp. in CD. If I see a weak-sauce argument, I'll dock you even if no one refutes it properly. (8) How you respond in Q&A matters a lot. If you get bogged down in questioning, do not try to refute a fatal argument against, or try to let the bell save you, I'll not be happy. (9) I'm a sucker for humor (esp. the dry or sarcastic variety), but in a manner that adds to your arguments, i.e., your speech should not devolve into a three-minute standup act.
Earlier paradigm (when I was naive enough to believe PF/LD judging would actually add flavor to my life):
Parent judge and B-school faculty member, so not new to case discussions and classroom debate. Just relatively new to the organized version.
In the near future, I will hopefully learn to use "spread," "flow," other jargon, and linear combinations of them in a sentence, but for now, this should suffice: Please speak clearly, even if not slowly.
Stick to time. If you end early because you have nothing more to say and I don't have you clearly winning by KO or on points, I will hold that against you.
I evaluate based on flow. Stay topical and be respectful, but also provide clash. Jokes are appreciated.
Hello! I am a parent and an Assistant Coach at our High School. I judge Congress at both our state level and have done multiple national circuit tournaments over the past two years. In addition I judge speech events. I do not judge PF, LD or CX.
In judging congress I find the following important:
- Respect in the chamber, at all times, even during recess ( if you are in chamber and judges are present you are still being evaluated)
- you should be prepared to speak on either side of a bill - which also means you understand both sides of the bill and can ask well informed questions.
- I understand base 2 but that doesn't mean you will necessarily be able to give your favorite speech
- Sponsor speeches are critical and no one should shy away from them. As a judge, I know there are no refutations and this isn't a crystal speech. But if we don't have a sponsor we don't get the debate going. You can earn my top speaker score by giving a sponsor speech. Show me you can refute by asking good questions of the other side.
- I do not like to break the cycle of debate. As stated before you should be prepared to speak on either side of the bill.
- Congress is the perfect combination of debate and speech. I expect sources, relevant points, a well organized speech and I expect style. You are speaking to convince the chamber to vote with you and I expect to see some passion in your speech to do just that.
- I expect you to be involved in the chamber while the chamber is in session. When watching the chamber I want to see you listening to your peers and attempting to ask questions.
I look forward to a great tournament. I know how much work goes into this event. I applaud all of you!!
Hello :) I'm a parent judge, I've judged a few speech events and congressional debate.
I look for speakers to be able to communicate effectively and engage the audience when speaking. Ie: make eye contact, project your voice, reference your sources to show your preparedness. In cases of Public Forum, Lincoln Douglas, and World Schools I would like to see non-repetitive and unique refutation to your opponents. Respect the time limit. Be respectful of your opponent— attack the topic, NOT the opponent. Congratulations for making it into FFL Varsity States, I wish you all the best of luck!
- I have an undergraduate degree in philosophy, a graduate degree in English, and competed in college forensics. I appreciate a clear, concise argument that shows the speaker is well prepared and genuinely cares about the work.
- My rankings will be based upon the notes I take during the session. Please help me by speaking loudly and distinctly, and by respecting all competitors at all times.
- Enjoy the event! You've worked hard to be here. I'm glad to be here too.
Speech (interp, info, oratory, extemp, impromptu, etc.):
Pacing, passion, and and complexity score highly with me.
I care a lot about proper decorum, especially with respect to interaction among members in the chamber. For example, if you're asking questions to the congressperson with the floor, please do not preface your question for an inordinate amount of the questioning block. Use questions to get your prefacing in. Prefacing is fine, but excessive or unnecessary prefacing is not.
Question and rebuttals are the heart of what makes this event something more than just people going up to the front of the room to read a static speech then sit down 15-20 times in a row.
For speeches, make your arguments and supporting evidence clear with sign posts. Don't read so heavily from your speech that you rarely (if ever) look up.
If there is a one-sided debate going on (two or three affs/negs in a row) please know that I will be expecting a better than normal speech with arguments that have not already been made along with clear rebuttals.
I love congress and I'm excited to hear your speeches and give you feedback in comments.
CONGRESS PARADIGM I am a parent judge who has been judging congress at a local, state, and national level for 2 years. I hope this paradigm tells you a bit more about what I'm looking for.
If you deliver a speech I already heard a different competitor give before, I will give you a lower rank. There is no good reason to copy your teammate's speeches, especially at prestigious bid tournaments. This goes for authorships/sponsorships, too.
PRESENTATION Congress is partially a speech event. Your presentation and delivery will factor into my judging. I love when people take more interesting, performative approaches that break up the monotony of a congress round. Please don't speak too quickly. I will hold it against you if you are reading too much from your pad and have poor eye contact. You should be familiar enough with the content of your speech to not be completely dependent on your pad. I have nothing against electronics. An iPad instead of a legal pad is perfectly fine as long as you don't let it hamper your performance.
CONTENT If you are making claims, make sure they are substantiated with evidence, especially if they are provocative or important new claims in the round. Round adaptation is extremely important. If you're just saying the same things as the previous five speakers before you, I have no reason to give you a good rank. Debaters have an obligation to engage with, build on, and refute what has been said by others in the round.
Always 1. link to the bill and 2. terminalize your impacts. Every speech needs to explain how passing this bill specifically causes a distinct harm or benefit. I don't have strict requirements for how you structure your speeches because I think that stifles innovation in this event, as long as it's a clear, understandable, effective speech.
RHETORIC I love an interesting rhetorical narrative. I think cookie cutter intros are boring. In the best case, each speech has an introduction relevant to the bill or even what has been previously said in the round. Rhetoric is not a substitute for substance. I've heard many brilliant rhetorical performances with very little content, and as much as I enjoy them, I can't rank them very high in the context of a congress round.
I always rank competent POs well. A congress round can't run without a PO, and I will never punish someone who knows what they're doing for stepping up to perform this vital function. Please don't PO if you don't know what you're doing. Yes, everyone has to PO for the first time at some point, but you should still be coming prepared and as someone who is already familiar with how congress works. POing should not be a cop-out for being underprepared.
Some notes for novices/people who are new to congress:
- Memorize parts of your speech
- If you're speaking later in the round, don't just deliver the speech you came prepared with - adapt!
- Be prepared to switch sides on a one-sided bill: you're doing the chamber and your judges a favor
- Be courteous: don't use parliamentary procedure as a tool to exclude or disadvantage others
- Enjoy yourself! Winning 1st place doesn't mean much if you didn't have fun
With competitor experience primarily in Congress and some in Public Forum, I look forward to judging you as an alum.
About me: I have competed in elimination rounds at Emory, Harvard, Princeton, UT @ Austin, and others on the national circuit. I qualified to the TOC 3 years in a row. I have a passion for IR, rhetoric, and working to see progress in society.
What I Want to See:
- I value presentation and argument in a 60/40 split respectively. I need you to substantiate your arguments with legitimate, credible cards, but presentation means a lot to me. I want you to work to convince the room that what you're saying is correct and add spice to keep my attention as a judge as well as the others'. This is how people get elected to jobs like Congressional positions in the first place. (I appreciate a good joke or two, but please not during something like reproductive rights or a sensitive international conflict, etc.)
- Show me you care, above all. I don't mean about trophies or where I rank you. I want to feel confident as a judge that the topic you're speaking on is something you've taken the time to research, you're passionate about, and that you're willing to be consistent with your principles/arguments in round.
- Clash? Refutation? Yes. Love it. Be respectful.
- PF: Spreading is okay, but I'd avoid LD/Policy speeds if you want me to flow properly.
- PF: Signposting appreciated but not necessary for me.
- Congress: I'd prefer you don't try to condense 4 1/2-5 minutes of stuff into 3 minutes. In other words, don't spread too much.
- POs: I have been in your position before. Maintain decorum, a presence in the round, and avoid sounding monotonous in your procedures. I will rank you according to how equitable the round was, how well it flowed with respect to time, and how well you performed as a Presiding Officer.
Good luck, have fun, and impress me!
Know this: your worth is not based on your rank. The pursuit of victory often comes at the cost of your own sanity. I am proud of all of you for working to develop your skills, and you're all winning by being in Speech/Debate.
firstname.lastname@example.org thats my email before you ask.
I have sections below specific to each category, so just scroll and look for the bolded section you are interested in.
Experience: I am currently the head coach for Neenah high school Speech & Debate (but currently only assisting in LD/PF... if that makes sense? I do all the other things) and have been a coach for the last 6 years. I have students who compete locally as well as nationally- we had the national champion at NSDA in Congress, and a Quarterfinalist in LD, a national competitor in Speech, middle school nats nationa runner up....so I have judged all over the place. This is my ninth year as a judge ('22-'23). I judge all categories, except varsity policy. I was not a debater in school, so I have a more basic understanding of the more obscure things that go on in debate.
"I have 5 minutes and wanted to check your paradigm quick, whats the headlines?"
*******Update for Yale- I broke my dominant hand, and can't write. I take short notes by typing, but be as clear as you can about your points since I have to do this from memory =(
Congress is my JAM. I love it and I prefer to see that level of enthusiasm/preparation from the participants.
I wasn't a debater- explain things clearly or I drop arguments I don't understand. ***note on that- I understand the terms of debate (link, turn, impact, etc), just not more niche philosophies and less popular arguments***
Be nice to each other- respect will get you far with me
Impact calc and weighing of final arguments is the best strat with me
Don't argue with me in RFD. If I drop you and you think you should have won, explain it better next time.
I can handle spreading, but if you can't... don't. It's awkward to have to tell you that you don't make sense.
Use a timer, and stick to it- I hate it when kids go over time. I stop flowing within 5 seconds of the end of your time. I will not warn you about this- you know your time limits.
Okay, I love these little things I have seen on other paradigms, so hopefully this helps.
For your pref sheets: (1 being top pref, just to be clear)
K's 1<-------------------------------X------>5 (I like them, but I feel like I am not a good judge for them)
Policy – 1<----X--------------------------------->5 /strike
Phil – 1<-------------------X------------------>5
Tricks – 1<-------------------------------------X>5 Actually... X. <== I HATE them. Please don't run them.
Trad – 1<--X----------------------------------->5
See below for more in-depth explanations divided by category
Behavior: You are acting as a member of congress- keep that in mind in how you behave! Please make sure to respect the rules of your parli and PO. For the love all that is good, please pay attention to the round. This is far more fun when everyone participates! If I see you on your phone for more than a minute at a time I will be annoyed. Obviously you can answer a text or check the time quick, but if you are disengaged I will notice and I will not be happy.
Speeches: I LOVE *actually* extemporaneous speeches. Please breathe some life into your words- you are trying to make your fellow congresspeople vote for or against the bill! Make sure you include stats, citations, and some analysis of other speaker's points. I believe that if legislation is up for debate, there is current research to be read about it, thus I expect you are only using sources from AT MOST the last 5 years. Better if they are from the last 3. A good, weird AGD is fun. Please avoid the common Taylor Swift/Disney/over used quote choices though. Bonus if you can make me a crack a smile with it! (not really a "bonus," but I remember them when I am doing my rankings- which helps your placement)
PO's: Have a CLEAR sheet for people to follow, keep it updated. If you make a mistake, fix it and move on quickly. LEARN your chamber's names. It is so awkward to hear POs continually mess up the names in the chamber. If you need it, but a phonetic pronunciation spot in your sheet and ask them to put their name in that way for you. I tend to rank PO's high, as long as they are engaged and well versed in the congress rules, (or at least learning them!) if they are not engaged and EFFICIENT, they can expect a low ranking. I can't stand it when a PO says a whole 30 second thing after every speech and questioning block.
Questioning: Ask short, clear questions. Don't have a ton of lead up. I don't mind if you need to argue with each other a bit, but keep it civil and don't cut each other off unless its clear they are wasting your time or are not answering the question. It drives me insane to have a silent room for questions and no opposition to a bill, please ask lots of questions! It plays into my ranking- great speeches will only get you so far with me! If you don't ask any questions in a bill cycle, don't expect a rank of over 6 from me. This hold true even if you didn't speak on the bill. It doesn't require research to think critically and ask thoughtful questions.
Recesses: Keep them short. Do not ask for more than 5 minutes between bills- I am not willing to extend the end of the session to accommodate the chamber wasting time during the session.
Overall Preferences: I can't stand it when kids want to break cycle to just give a speech. I realize this isn't your fault, but that means the debate is stale and we need to move on. Unless you are giving a whole new perspective on the bill, you are far better off moving on to a new bill and giving a speech there. I am especially critical of these speeches in terms of quality of content and sources, because if you are insisting we listen to your extra speech, it must be REALLY good and worth not moving on.
Preferences: Please be clear and professional in round. I hate that the attitudes and behaviors seen in other styles is seeping into PF. As noted in other sections, I was not a debater, so don't expect me to know every single term you share. Generally, if I make a somewhat confused face, define your term.
A few things I love to see: Please, collapse arguments. It's so awesome to watch a veteran team (or even a novice team) weigh arguments and determine the largest impacts and points in the round and weigh them against each other, rather than slowly increase their speed in through the debate to try and get every single argument in to the last speech. Spreading has no place in PF- stop trying to make it happen, its not going to happen.
A few things I hate in rounds: Veteran debaters being overly hard on novices- we want to keep them in the activity, don't discourage them by running super dense over the top arguments- you will probably win if you just run a standard argument simply by being more experienced. "Stealing" prep- if you need prep take it, don't make me sit for 35 seconds and then tell me you're taking prep. If you want cards, fine... but ask for them all at once and get it over with quickly. It is super annoying to go through CX and then have a 15 minute "card trade" before getting back into debate.
Preferences: This is what the majority of my students do. I will flow everything and I will say clear if necessary, but only once before I stop flowing you. I was not a debater, so my knowledge of really weird arguments is lacking. Let me say that again. I WAS NOT A DEBATER- EXPLAIN WHAT YOU MEAN. It has become more and more common to use really dense philosophies in your framing- this is something I have little experience with. Make sure to explain your super specialized philosophy carefully or I can't use it as a weighing mechanism. I encourage you to run whatever you like, but explain it very well, especially if it is not something common. Err on the side of caution if you are not sure if it is common- like I said I am not well versed in most of the different arguments. In terms of speed I judge a lot of policy, so I would say I am comfortable with most speeds seen in LD.
A few things I love to see in round: Please weigh & tell me how to vote so I don’t have to intervene in any capacity. I also like to see super high respect for your opponent. This is such an underrated part of PF that is not nearly as present in LD or Policy, and it totally should be. Signpost clearly- I love hearing you tell me exactly what the "uniqueness" is, the "link" and the "impact. It makes it much easier for me to organize my flow. If you have nearly identical frames, I love to see kids recognize that and show how they can fit into each other's frame, rather than making the round about whether I should weigh using "limiting suffering" or "increasing societal welfare." Let's be honest, those are pretty similar, and if you fit in one you probably can fit in the other.
A few things I hate in rounds: Swearing- This seems like an obvious one, but is lacks professionalism if it is not needed to actually make the points. "Stealing" prep- if you need prep take it, don't make me sit for 35 seconds and then tell me you're taking prep. Veteran debaters being overly hard on novices- we want to keep them in the activity, don't discourage them by running super dense over the top arguments- you will probably win if you just run a standard argument simply by being more experienced. Last thing: if you run a "fairness" argument that you couldn't prep against your opponent and then you have a case against your opponent, expect me to completely drop your fairness argument. You just proved that you lied about the fairness since you prepped that argument. Use your time to prepare blocks and responses instead of wasteful and lazy theory shells.
Preferences: I do not like any tricks or unprofessional behavior in round, but snark is always okay. I prefer not to hear teams talking to each other while their opponents are presenting, as it is distracting to me as a judge. Open speeches are a no-go. If you don't have your own stuff ready, then take prep time. If you're out of prep time, organize yourself better next time. I generally only judge novice policy once in a while, so be aware you might be my only round this year, and I probably don't have a comprehensive knowledge of the subject area.
I am fine with spreading, (probably a 6/10 for speed) however if you are not understandable, I will only tell you clear once before I stop flowing you. Please be aware of your own speaking issues- for example, if you have braces and rubber bands, you probably should not spread, since you will be almost unintelligible. On the topic of spreading- I understand it is a strategy to get as many arguments in as possible, but be aware that a large breadth of arguments you do not understand is basically useless.
Impact calc is huge for me. If I don't clearly hear you explain why your impacts are bigger or more important, I judge completely by what is on my flow. DA's and CP's are fine in a round, and good experience for a novice/Post nov. I always flow cross x, and keep track of questions asked. I do not want to see a framework in novice policy.
Misc. Stuff for any style debate:
-I am not about speaker points- I think its a really biased system, but I do it because its required. I would not consider myself generous with points, but I try to be fair with the way the system is set up. That said, if you’re mean to your opponent I will substantially dock your speaks. If you can’t control your round without being disrespectful there is something wrong. Since I have been asked, I average about 28 for speaks.
-I don't flow things from CX unless I am told to. I find it to be one of the more telling parts of any round about who has stronger arguments and better understands the content, but if you want it to weigh in to my decision, you need to bring it up in speeches.
-Please understand whatever you’re running before you run it in front of me- it is super frustrating to hear kids hem and haw about defining terms when they didn't take time to understand what they are saying.
-I dislike timing rounds and I've found I'm extremely inaccurate. I will keep time, but it is best if we have multiple timers going to ensure accuracy. Please time yourselves and hold your opponent accountable so that I don't have to. I HATE having to cut people off because they are over time- I actually prefer if their opponent has a timer that goes off so I can hear it.
TLDR: Be respectful, know & define your stuff, use current sources, watch your time.
I've judged rounds of: Public Forum, Congress, Lincoln-Douglas, Extemporaneous Speaking, Original Oratory, Informative Speaking, Interpretation of Literature, and Impromptu Speaking.
Strong debaters have a balance of facts, statistics, engaging rhetoric and clear delivery. Help me flow! I like lots of taglines and signposting, even during cross ex. If you're speaking fast, make sure you're not sacrificing clarity. Although I don't prefer when competitors spread, I can understand what they are saying (during the cross examination sessions). If you're interrupting your opponent habitually, it may count against you.
The winning team / debater is able to deliver and extend strong, well-supported, and prepared arguments while pointing out and breaking down flaws in the opponent's arguments.
TL;DR: Weigh, offense in final focus should first be in summary, don't spread, stuff from cross must be in a speech to reach the flow, try not to paraphrase evidence.
Please weigh your impacts. If you don't, I have to decide how to weigh for myself and you may not agree with my choices. If your opponents offer a different weighing mechanism or weigh differently, tell me why I should default to yours over theirs.
Try to extend at least claim and impact, preferably with the warrant, not just the name of source. With just the name, I may lose the extension on my flow/lose understanding of what argument that source was supporting. You don't need to re-read the entire card again (please don't) but offer me more context than simply the name.
Every argument in final focus should first be said in summary (especially in terms of offense). This keeps it fair for whoever speaks first. Don't try to extend every argument from your constructive/rebuttal, you do not have enough time. Pick the ones you think you are winning and go from there; you'll do much better, I promise. Make sure you specify your weighing mechanism!
Whatever you want to bring up is probably fine, but just know that I am much less likely to believe obscure arguments that aren't necessarily well warranted than I am stock arguments that are. Obscurity does not imply a better argument, so be careful when running them. If they make sense and are well backed, however, I will have no problem voting for whatever.
I'm fine with some speed, but don't spread. If I miss something, it is to your detriment.
1. I do not flow cross. If you want me to put something on the flow, it must be brought up in a speech.
2. Be respectful. Don't try to drown out your opponent. Please don't start yelling. Being forceful is fine, but know the limit. Don't try to steal questions; let your opponent have the opportunity to ask questions as well. One or two follow-up questions is fine, but don't overdo it unless your opponent does not have any questions to ask.
3. I actually think cross is really important and is one of the most fun aspects of PF. That being said, make sure you have questions to ask and try to have everyone talk during grand cross. The interactions between all four debaters are what make grand cross exciting.
Paraphrasing is iffy. I don't necessarily hate it, but I don't like it. It is much easier to call a card and see where the evidence comes from when it is directly from the document. When paraphrasing, it is easy to misconstrue the meaning of a source. If I call for a card and your paraphrasing does not match up with what is in the doc, I will drop that source and potentially the argument very quickly. Basically, it is in your better interest to quote directly from the source to avoid any issues (obv with a few changes/exclusions to make the card coherent).
Have the full pdf of your evidence ready, not just the card. If the source has a date, make sure it is visible somewhere. Newer evidence from a similar source probably has more weight.
Prep starts when you say it does, and stops when you say stop. Don't stop your prep and continue to write. Don't take forever trying to pull up a card/doc after you stop prep, that probably should have been done during your prep. I will be somewhat lenient with that one, but don't take forever.
When using prep to look at a card from your opponent, your prep will start when you receive the card (unless you wish to run it while they look for the card and you are prepping something else). (Docs should be readily available so as to minimize the time needed to look for them. Expect for them to be called.)
Things that will lose you points: spreading, disrespectfulness, lack of clarity, etc.
I don't care if you sit or stand for cross, decide amongst yourselves.
Off-time roadmaps are fine but largely unnecessary unless your structure is weird (i.e., not going straight down your opponent's case).
Joking is perfectly fine but don't be obnoxious.
Ask me before the round if you have any questions or if I missed something.
A debate is a search for the truth. That's why, along with voting, debating is at the heart of America's democratic process.
So please call out people who just make things up.
* Intros that are directly about the topic always beat generic intros that could apply to any topic.
* Quotations always beat paraphrase.
* Fully-cited evidence I can hunt down always beats "The New York Times tells us that . . ." (Remember: NSDA-minimum is name or publication and year. That's an absurdly low standard that makes zero sense for the new-resolution-every-hour world of Congress. Many Congress debaters still fail to meet it.) The challenge posed by AI will make attention to sources even more important.
* An authorship without an expert solvency advocate--a credentialed source who advocates what's in Section 1 of the bill or the Resolved clause--is cursed. An authorship which has an expert solvency advocate is blessed. I hold cursed bills against their authors/sponsors and reward blessed authors/sponsors. It's considered rude to point out that the only people in the whole world who think the bill is a good idea happen to be the handful of AFF speakers, but that argument is an automatic winner for NEG. A great nation doesn't make policy based on a random hunch. If you can't quote an expert who says "We should spend X billion on Y program" (for instance) then your bill is cursed. I won't, of course, hold cursed first-AFFs against speakers, because someone has to kick off. TL;DR: Find your Section 1 in your research. Don't just wing it.
* Giving the right kind of speech (constructive, rebuttal, summative/"crystallization") at the right time always beats giving the kind of speech you're best at without thinking about what the debate needs. I think I can tell an "oops, thought I'd PO" crystal from one that groups and clinches the best arguments in the round.
* Rehash is a venial, not a mortal, sin. And if you're a novice, always give the speech. That said, giving a third- or fourth-in-a-row is an admission of under-preparation.
* The assumption that everyone is going to give two speeches in a round seems fair, but it has pernicious effects. It discourages folks from speaking early. That in turn results in several "please, someone give a speech" moments in the round. It also discourages people from prepping the full agenda. I have mixed feelings about people ruthlessly taking speeches whenever they can. It's not friendly, but neither is stonewalling until some novice buckles and agrees to kick off the debate, and it's hard to blame someone who grabs a speech opportunity that's just sitting there.
* POs start at 1 on my ballot and lose ranks from errors. They can also be displaced by truly excellent speakers. The PO starts at 1 because the PO is the only indispensable contestant in the round. Can't have a round without the PO. The more people there are who run for PO, the faster the winning PO loses ranks from errors, because you're claiming you're better than everyone else who wanted it.
* Congress is speech *and* debate, so be sure you're listening and responding (debate) and keeping me focused on what you're saying (speech). Congress is getting too fast and burdened with jargon. The ideal Congress speaker is perfectly intelligible to someone who wandered into the room. A conversational pace is a supreme sign of confidence, and if your arguments are also the ones the round needs, you get the one.
* Respect the role-play, which is the only thing that has kept Congress from joining the long list of last decade's big new debate event that will solve everything but which is now moribund because the college kids got hold of it.
* My feedback more often plays the doubting game than the believing game. For instance, I often suggest arguments I think would be better. I do this to help debaters, which helps Congress, which is something I love. Anyone who spends a perfectly good weekend trying to honestly hash out trade policy etc. is a hero, and I encourage everyone to be their best, which is why my feedback is more full of "grows" than "glows." But you're glowing just by playing.
My first 20 years of coaching were devoted almost exclusively to policy debate. My second 20 years were spent on every other forensic event. I am a fan of both speech and debate with PF as my personal favorite. Coming from a policy background has helped to mold my judging preferences:
What I like:
Clash - arguments only
Evidence that actually supports the argument it supposed to
IMPACTS - if you don’t have impacts, you won’t win; if you don’t link your impacts, you won’t win
I actually care about topicality and talking about the actual resolution
Real world issues plus a comparison of pro world vs con world
What I don’t like:
Unintelligible grand crossfires because everyone is talking over each other
I don’t mind some speed, but policy garble won’t fly.
I look forward to direct clash in a respectful environment with well vetted ev supporting real world issues.
You can be bad but don't be boring
Congress is a debate event but good presentation goes a long way
make eye contact with the room try to avoid reading from your pad as much as possible
if your speech is just stock arguments you better speak early
i appreciate good refutations and crystallizations
I will be keeping it simple and will intend on looking in-depth in the rounds and to provide the information needed to explain why I gave a specific rank to each competitors.
Here's what I'm looking for:
Delivery: I wish to see you provide emotion and vocal variation in your speeches, after all these rounds can take up to 3 HOURS meaning as the round progresses it will be difficult to be heavily interested when someone is speaking in a monotone voice compared to someone who brings sadness, anger, and strength/impact to their speeches.
Fluency: I will be looking out for the competitors with the best fluency.
Interpret: This will be by far THE MOST IMPORTANT aspect I will be looking for. As a judge I inherently will not be researching the bills everyone is prepping for, so speakers who come up and provide an argument for a certain side of a bill on why their side is right without being confusing and overreaching and hard to catch up will get a big boost in how I rank. Essentially I wish to see speakers be clear and concise with their speeches because again, I will not have huge prior knowledge on the legislations at hand.
Legal Pad Dependence: Although it can be difficult to give speeches without a pad, I am looking for people who are not overtly dependent on their legal pad.
Uniqueness: If you make a common argument that is fine but if you go ahead and bring a whole new argument and make it unique and add new perspective, that will most definitely boost you in the ranks.
Late Round Speeches: As the round goes on and many arguments are used and it will obviously be difficult to make new argument that has not been overused. So for late round speeches I will not criticize you heavily if you cannot be special about it and instead focused more on refutation and delivery.