Gregory Titman ParadigmLast changed 11/14 7:06A EDT
I have been judging/coaching debate since 2012. In high school, I competed in Extemporaneous Speaking and dabbled a handful of times in Public Forum Debate (referred to as Ted Turner Debate at the time). Because of my background in speech, delivery remains an important factor in my decision in so far as I must be able to understand the arguments that you are presenting. In other words, do NOT spread! To me, spreading is antithetical to effective communication, which is ultimately the reason we are here - to communicate arguments for or against a proposed resolution.
I subscribe to the school of thought that Public Forum is intended to be a lay person's debate in that anybody, regardless of their background knowledge on the subject matter or debate experience, should be able to sit-in on a round and follow each side's argumentation. As it was once explained to me, your grandmother should be able to listen to your case/speech and understand what you are saying.
An effective argument consists of three key components: a claim, a warrant, and an impact (STATE It, SUPPORT It, EXPLAIN It). An emphasis on any one of these facets at the exclusion of the others results in an incomplete argument. You can't win a debate with incomplete arguments! I say all this because over the past 6 years of coaching I have witnessed a shift in emphasis away from holistic argumentation to an over-reliance upon evidence. Sure, evidence is important, but far too many debates that I've judged have devolved into a clash over whose evidence is superior or who has provided a greater quantity. As British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once claimed, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." Use evidence to support your contentions and your rebuttals, but also provide an explanation as to how it links back into the bigger picture argument that you are trying to make. Logic can be just as effective a tool in a debate as qualitative and quantitative evidence.
In terms of the logistics for the round:
- "Off-time road-maps" are fine, but should be brief.
- You may time yourself, but my timer is the official time piece for the round.
- Individual crossfires should be standing. Grand crossfire can be seated or standing (debaters' discretion).
- Rarely, if ever, should you need to ask to see the opponent's evidence (see comments above). Teams use this as a tactic for gaining additional prep time while their opponent finds the card/original source. If you ask to see the opponents' evidence, it will count against your prep time, even while they are locating it. With that being said, each team should have their evidence (card and original source) readily available to produce should it be requested by the opponent.