Mario Herrera ParadigmLast changed 4/26 9:05A EDT
PUBLIC FORUM DEBATE
I competed in high school policy debate back in the day but haven't judged policy in a while. I have been coaching for 28 years and am a member of the Georgia Forensic Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the National Speech and Debate Association Hall of Fame. I have coached and judged all speech events, Public Forum, Lincoln-Douglas and Congress, with students from my team reaching elimination rounds at major national tournaments in nearly all speech events and in all debate events.
I believe Public Forum debate to be exactly that- a public forum. I also appreciate and enjoy the intricacies of argumentation. In the end, my jurisdiction is the resolution, therefore I need to hear argumentation stemming from the given resolution.
Speaking quickly in a round is a must, but it should not be at the expense of communication. Throwing arguments around to see what sticks is not the best strategy with me. I also believe that there is rarely a "silver bullet" type of argument, and argument that is so good that it is irrefutable. Don't try to isolate your competition- instead, clash your arguments with theirs. Debate is about the clash. That is what makes it engaging and important. Create that clash.
Theory arguments rarely persuade me, although I have been known to vote for theory. I prefer to hear about the point of conflict within the resolution.
The best advice I can give is to connect the dots in the round. If you don't, that means if I have to connect arguments to impacts and evaluate both on my own, I may not make connections the way you would like Weigh the round, not just your impacts.
I've been hearing that nuclear war is going to happen since 1982. Just because something is said in a round does not make it true. Valid, reasonable positions and evidence are key. The impacts of arguments need to be sound and connected.
A dropped argument does not mean you win the debate. You need to tell me why.
In the end, debate is an exercise in discussion, discourse, rhetoric, argumentation and rebuttal. Logos, ethos and pathos are vital in the debate arena. Debate decisions are about who debates better in a given moment in time with a given situation. You've chosen a remarkable activity to participate in. Enjoy the round!