2nd Annual Season Championship
2023 — Online, US
Congressional Debate Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
Howdy it's me!
A little about me: I competed in Congress for 4 years as a high schooler across the Illinois and National Circuit, having made the final rounds of Emory, Harvard, TOC, and more! Hope I can bring a lot of that experience and give you good feedback!
Anyways, here's what I'm looking for: I tend to weigh content above delivery, so most of my paradigm will center around my content expectations.
You should have different content for different stages of the debate, and I have different expectations of you at these different stages. I don't really rank one type of speech over the other – it's just who fulfills their chosen role the best in the round that picks up my ballot!
Sponsorship: A basic sponsorship has three key components: A problem bloc (show me why we need this bill, what's the problem that you are trying to solve?), a solvency bloc(how does this legislation come into play? reference the legislation specifically!), an impact bloc (what are the impacts of this legislation? Who, what benefits?) I should not feel the need to fill any of these blocs at the end of your speech. Since this is a pre-prepared speech, strong sources and delivery are the expectations. To go above and beyond, what makes an excelling sponsor would be its ability to capture my mind. Does your rhetoric vividly paint the world before and after this legislation, is there a theme to your speech, does it stand out from what's considered "stock"? Unless it's asked for by the other judge in the room, I generally don't like pre-refutations, a practice where you try to pre-emptively refute the other side. My problem with it is that you may have just wasted 10 seconds of your time refuting an argument that might not even be made when you could instead use it towards creating a stronger picture of the legislation and your advocacy. I won't dock points because of it if it's in a sponsor, but if you're giving pre-refutations in any speech other than the sponsorship, and you don't give a single relevant ref to a relevant speaker, that's going to be raising some eyebrows from me.
Constructives (1-3rd Cycle): A good constructive should either introduce new arguments that weren't in the round before or extend off of the rest of the debate. Again, Congress is a debate event, so I especially love to see speeches that integrate well into the round so far – rather than speeches that stand alone without any interaction to the round whatsoever, so an early round speaker that integrates relevant refutations well into their speeches will pick up my ballot! Ask yourselves, who or what's been the strongest speaker/argument from both sides? What can you add to the debate that hasn't been brought up already to support or challenge these arguments?
Late-Round(4th-6th): Generally, the late-round speakers who rank the best on my ballot are the speakers who can identify the biggest clashes of the round and add their own original unique take/analysis on it. A brief overview helps, but you should be doing a lot more than just summarizing. Is there a round-breaking statistic you can bring that no one has brought up? Is there something the entire round has been forgetting? Is there a glaring hole in the other side's arguments that no one's brought up? In these types of speeches, content will be especially weighed more heavily than delivery (you likely prepared this in-round, so the rhetoric/lay appeal might not be fully there, which is completely understandable), but if you do a good job in both, then you'll REALLY excel on my ballot! :)
PO's: A lot of my Congress career was based on presiding and I truly recognize the importance of a strong, good PO. I'm looking for PO's that maintain a strong sense of control over the room, PO's that can lead the chamber to a successful session with their own individual flair (the occasional humor, etc.). Unless something goes terribly awry, like the splits aren't even and we're stuck in recess for 10 minutes or longer because someone has to give a speech and you didn't do anything to address the situation, or you weren't being efficient or equitable, I'll always rank a good PO high, within my Top 4! :)
Questioning: Please question as much as possible! It not only helps you to maintain a round presence – if you gave a great speech but didn't question AT ALL, it's going to hurt you more than it helps you. If you gave an early-round speech, round's not over! Defend your speech against the other speeches in cross-x, and if you are speaking later, question early on, maybe give some thematic hints of what you'll say in the later round!
What not to do: I generally encourage everyone to avoid the super congress-y lingo – your speech should be accessible to all listeners. Ask yourself, is this something I can give to my 5th Grade sibling and have them easily understand it? If the answer's no, make it more accessible! Also, don't be rude to others – if I think you're rudely cutting people off in cross or being extremely rude/offensive, you won't rank well on my ballot.
That being said, I know y'all got this, and will use your best judgment to perform at your best! Good luck today! I know I can say this on the behalf of all the other judges when I say, we're here to support you, wish only the best for you, and help you to grow for your next tournament! Most importantly, have fun!
If you have any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Present logical arguments
- good evidence
- moves your speech forward
Please have impacts, your argument has very little weight without impacts
1st aff should spend a lot of time defining the problem in the squo and spend a lot of it with the sections of the bills that solve the issue. Make it easy to understand.
1st Neg: Mention 1st aff speaker at least once and make your argument refute them.
Same requirements as 1st aff otherwise.
Mid round: Must have refutation, must present arguments that interact with the round. This is where you need to offer new perspectives because this is in the round when it gets boring.
Late/Crystals: The biggest part of your speech should be on weighing. Pretty hard to do in congress with so many arguments present. But focus on the opponent's best arguments. It is also fine to add new info as long as it hurts the opponent's efforts.
PO paradigm: Regular ranks for PO is 1-6, however, I will rank PO's 2-5. Unless the round has no clear winner, then I am fine voting PO as 1st. Only if you're a very good po bc po already op.
1. Most important: Move the round efficiently
- do things quickly
- know procedures
- Motions, Point of orders, etc
- Just how good your argument is
- Good intros
- good rhetoric that ties in with your argument
- pauses, gestures
- 70% argument
- 30% rhetoric
Hello!! My name is Chans (she/her). (John Paul Stevens ‘23 & UT HDO ‘27)
You don't have to call me Judge or anything overly professional like that, Chans (pronounced chance) is fine!
I did speech and debate for two years in high school, with competition and (limited) coaching experience in Congress, competition experience in trad LD, PF, and Extemp, and judging experience in all of the above plus OO and World Schools Debate. I try to make my ballots as helpful and detailed as possible for the sake of your growth as a debater. If you have any questions about my decision or ballot, I'm more than happy to discuss and provide more insight so don't be afraid to shoot me an email! email@example.com
If I'm your judge for an event that isn't detailed below, you're welcome to ask if I have any preferences!
This is by far my favorite event and the event I have the most experience in. I mainly use argumentation and how much you advance the debate as the way I will evaluate you as a speaker, and delivery is the last thing I consider. Next to each section, there's a rough percentage breakdown of how I will evaluate your performance.
argumentation (50%): Please don't rehash arguments, that might be obvious but to me, this looks like giving the exact same claim, warrant and/or impact as another speaker. There is a big difference between rehashing and building upon other's arguments by bringing in new warrants, impacts, or analysis. Please don't try to pawn off rehashing as building off others without adding anything fresh to the debate. If you plan on going late, make sure you’re weighing and debating, not reading a constructive without adding anything substantial to the debate. I will give you the 9 immediately if you give a constructive as the 10th speaker in a debate. Now that all the technical stuff is out of the way, I want to hear ARGUMENTS. I've been in my fair share of local congress rounds where every speaker is reading a different, independent, 100% prewritten speech that contributes nothing new/substantial to the flow of the round. Even I have been guilty of this. Be adaptable, it is the easiest way to stand out in a room full of 3-minute infos.
advancing the debate (40%): Whoever is doing the best job at proving that their side is winning the debate the best will generally get my top 6. This means analysis, comparatives, and weighing!!!! I also want to hear the implications that the points in your speech make to the overall flow of the round. Why is what you're saying so important to your side, how is it changing what we know about the round thus far, and why should I care as a judge (or non-congressperson if you're a true LARPer). This should seem pretty intuitive, but you would be surprised by how many people don't actually do this.
delivery (10%): I'm insanely lenient with how you choose to deliver your speech (legal pad, clipboard, laptop, iPad, sheet of paper, nothing at all), as long as YOU feel comfortable, that's all I care about. I understand being in the position of having not padded my speech and feeling like my performance will suffer because of it. Not many judges are like this, so please feel free to do whatever with your delivery. Fluency breaks are normal and are not that big of a deal, so show confidence in what you’re saying and the rest will follow.
Be respectful, yelling at each other or being aggressive during cross is one of the easiest ways to get ranked pretty low, and be mindful of each other’s pronouns, especially if they are visible on placards.
If you're going to give a humorous/stylized intro, please make sure the topic is appropriate, but otherwise, I love to hear some of your personality shine through!! Be warned though, I've watched an ungodly amount of congress rounds, and was in at least one every weekend for two years, so if you give a canned intro, I will most likely know and call you out on it.
- POs will typically rank in my 3-8 depending on your performance and the performance of others in the round. You either have to be doing a really bad job as PO or it be a really good room of speakers for you to get dropped. I will generally try to make sure that PO's will always have a chance of breaking out of prelim.
Content warnings are super important and you should ALWAYS provide them if necessary, but also remember if you have content in your speech that requires a CW, your judges and PO cannot leave the room during your speech.
an email chain is fine, speech drop is better though.
tech > truth, but in a trad way!
be respectful and clear and you'll get high speaks, be rude, passive-aggressive, or mean, i'm dropping your speaks. if you're experienced and hitting a novice, and way overdoing beating them, i'm dropping your speaks.
I mainly competed in trad/UIL LD, but I will evaluate any argument, as long as I can follow the argument link chain. Theory is okay, as long as it's clear what I'm supposed to be voting on. I am going to be honest, still not sure how to evaluate a K so I'd recommend not running one if I am your judge for the sake of fairness in my decision. Speed is okay as long as you have a doc that I can follow. Keep in mind though that following along to a doc while you're speaking and I'm trying to flow can become difficult for me, especially if I'm trying to catch every link.
If you can't explain your argument without relying on your evidence during cross or as a “warrant", you’ll have a hard time convincing me why you should get my ballot. Cards ≠ warrants.
PLEASE don't read a K or theory (unless it is ACTUALLY conducive to a better debate space). There's not enough time and I will not know what to do with it on my flow. I prefer a good traditional PF round, with all your typical things. Weighing is one of the most important things to me in PF, as long as you're doing it, thats all I care about.
I only competed in Extemp as a supplement to Congress, so my preferences are a lot more surface-level. Evidence is important, but I care way more that you can explain the points you are making in detail with good use of analysis. It's a snooze fest if all you're doing is telling me claims and cards. Substructure is cool, try to have fun with it. Fluency breaks happen, it's normal. Just shake it off and keep going. You won't auto 6 if you break fluency or pause for a second.
Remember to have fun and take care of yourself & good luck to all competitors!!
presentation > content
(once the minimum threshold of sound logic, evidence, & argumentation are met)
- make your speech engaging with humor, pathos, or powerful rhetoric (depending on the bill obviously - e.g. don't run a joke agd for saudi arms). polished presentation is paramount for anyone listening to and caring about the content of your speech (especially in the real world)
- please have a polished and original intro that has comedic, emotional, narrative or rhetorical appeal. bonus points if you extend the device throughout your speech. please please please please please have a good intro. pretty please. with a cherry on top.
- asking and answering CX questions well (i.e. asking succinct and direct questions and answering in a cool, concise, & collected manner) is extremely important for securing a high rank - you want to showcase that you are the most knowledgeable in the room
- with that in mind, here are WORST types of CX questions that will kill your ranks: "Here is some outside piece of data/evidence. How does your argument still stand?", "[not even asking a question, just arguing at them and asking them to respond]", questions that last for more than 10-12 seconds, and any same-side questioning that isn't explicitly critical and strategic (a.k.a. no softball questions)
- unless you are the sponsor, you must have substantive clash in your speech
- warrant your claims clearly. everyone has evidence for their arguments and a lot of the time it will directly conflict with each other - show me why yours is the best by explaining it cogently and intuitively
- canned/stolen rhetoric or agd = 9
- weigh!!! oftentimes, every argument made in a round is factually true, which is why you simply have to explain why yours are more important
- this should go without saying, but rehash will be marked down
- your goal is to prove a net harm or benefit of the legislation. speeches without offense will be marked down
- too much pad reliance (i.e. for anything other than evidence or a brief glance for ref) will negatively influence your performance quality, and thus your ranking
- simplify your arguments and humanize your impacts - this is an event about persuasion
- I generally dislike when students break character. leaning into the roleplay will usually get you upped.
- speeches should have a real conclusion (that will usually tie back to your intro). ending with pass or fail will be marked down
- you don't need your pad for cx. put it down after your speech.
- I will usually reward you for flipping but it's not a get out of jail free card
- round adaption is really cool and good and you should do it. bounce off of others' intros and rhetoric; make the round fun!
PO: minimum break unless you make mistakes in which case you will be dropped. can move up in ranks by being funny, efficient, charismatic, etc. please use a google sheet for transparency.
- #1 priority is how entertaining / how good of a presenter you were
- #2 priority is how well and completely you answered the question
- source quality matters a lot - e.g. books, academic research, think tanks, primary sources, etc.
- on tops (mini intros you use as transitions to each point) are super cool and you should include them
- speeches should be between 6:50 and 7:10
- be creative
- be respectful
- have fun!
good luck :)
Debate is not a game
You're usually discussing matters of life and death - this entire activity is a dialectic about how to improve the world. Your rounds are about more than just getting the 1 or a W. Similarly, debate affects the lives of people who participate in it. Success can mean scholarships or admittance to great colleges. Please don't trivialize how important that can be for people.
Speech & style: I'm judging you based on the result, not the process.
"Constructive," "rebuttal," and "crystallization" speeches are a social construct! They are a lens to understand your role as a speaker, not a strict blueprint for a speech. I don't care if you use CWDI, block structure, or just freestyle. I don't care if you use a legal pad or an iPad or nothing. These are just your tools - I'm judging you based on the result, not the process.
If I've heard your exact speech before I will literally drop you even if it's the best speech in the round. Do not pawn other people's prep off as your own.
No one knows how to weigh in congress so please weigh.
Empirical citations =/= Causal analysis.
I appreciate original, novel, and funny rhetoric. Try to distinguish yourself!
Delivery & presentation
Presentation is necessary to help you get your point across. If you neglect presentation that will reflect on your overall performance.
Bad POs will be dropped, good POs will at least get a rank good enough to advance to the next round.
A good PO is fast, fair, aware of parliamentary procedure & tournament-specific rules, and serves as a leader and problem-solver in the round.
To be honest I rank POs in final rounds kind of differently. I don't think most POs deserve to champ unless they do something especially useful or demonstrate exceptional leadership. I'm more inclined to give POs the 1 in non-final rounds.
"Automatic previous question after 3 speeches on the same side" is not a rule unless we're at TOC or tournaments that specifically use TOC rules.
Speech equity is great and important, but there is no such thing as a formal base system. I have nothing against someone getting the chance to speak more than everyone else if it keeps debate going and fresh.
Don't yell or be mean in cross-ex. Avoid talking over eachother. That being said, questioners AND answers should keep questions AND answers concise.
I see all the politicking for what it really is
Following online may be hard. Please slow down slightly and emphasise CLARITY to ensure I am not entirely lost due to connectivity. After your speeches are completed, I will ask you to fill in the gaps I miss out on in case of connectivity issues.
I prefer technicality over the truth. Characterisation must be augmented with the ability to translate the idea into reality. I do not accept arguments founded on illogical stances. Mediocre evidence is not an alternative to a robust argument. I am keen on learning as to why I must extrapolate evidence from the other team rather than ill-founded arguments.
The structure is most important, helps me evaluate the hierarchy of arguments and the operation of the same in your paradigm. Ensure that each argument is composed of an assertion and an appendage warrant. The assertion must be demonstrated to weigh in impact.
Failure to propose an alternative will not be viewed poorly if afforded reasonable contextualization of such a choice of argumentation
Avoid vague quantification and emphasise the relevance and impact as a comparative. Failure to address the limitation of the argument will impact my evaluation. In case of competing evaluations of the same concept, reasonability and actualisation will be taken into consideration.
Avoid foul language, sassy comebacks are enjoyable as long as they remain respectful.
Hi guys :) A little bit about me, I've competed in Congress and Extemp all of high school on the local and national circuit, and have made it to outrounds in both. I have also dabbled in a couple of other events, doing LD on the local and national circuit and making it to outrounds, as well as competing in Parli on the local circuit. Besides these events, I am also familiar with most of the speech events (including Oratory, Advocacy, DI, HI, Duo, OPP, POI and of course NX and IX). Right now I'm doing collegiate PF!
On my judging experience (bc it's not on my record yet)
- parli'd @ MLK 2024
- parli'd @ Stanford 2024
- parli'd @ Berkeley 2024
Here are my expectations as a judge:
Some things to keep in mind for speeches:
1) This is both a debate and a speech event. That means that you should have good delivery AND good argumentation that adapts to the round.
2) In Congress, different speakers have different responsibilities depending on when you’re going in the round (e.g. sponsor sets up the round, early round speech is constructive-heavy, mid-round speech is refutation-heavy, last speaker gives a crystal)- do your job well and I’ll rank you accordingly.
3) When forming arguments, make sure to have a solid, easy-to-follow link chain! First, because good structure = clarity. Second, a good link chain details the logic behind your argument.
While we're on the topic of argumentation, here's a little tangent-
Tabula rasa? Tech over truth? Tough call (srsly). After some recent judging I've had to re-evaluate my policy on this. I'd like to think I maintain a good balance. Here's what that looks like- if I notice a hole in your argument but it's still (mostly) logically sound, I won't dock you for it if no one calls you out. But if I hear an incredibly goofy argument, it will hurt your ranks, even if no one calls you out on it. I want to be as objective as possible, but if you say something completely untrue or baseless I believe it would go against the educational aspect of debate to *not* let that influence my ranks.
4) Don't be repetitive! You can have a great argument, but if someone has already said it before you, you're not adding anything to the debate.
5) MOST IMPORTANT: You should be telling me why your argument is the most important, at the very least through weighing but preferably by giving me explicit reasoning why your argument sets you apart from other speakers in the round.
Be concise, and have a clear goal. You should either be pointing out flaws in your opponent’s argument or setting up your own argument for future refutations. Always remember to stay calm, and don’t resort to yelling.
On PO: Just do your job lol. If you do well, I’ll rank you highly. If you can’t handle the chamber effectively, it hurts your ranks. DO NOT under any circumstances be biased. I will catch on if you are prioritizing a friend or dropping a competitor.
On “base 2” (or whatever # of speeches y’all agree to):
Personally, I agree with the idea of everyone being promised a minimum number of speeches. However, I do not think there should be a hard cap on the maximum number of speeches allowed to be given.
E.g., in a round where there is base 2:
don’t block out someone from giving a second speech
But if no one is standing up and time permits, you can and should go for a third speech
Congress is about advocacy- so long as it isn’t at someone else’s detriment, you should take all opportunities to do so.
*Please note, that doesn’t mean I rank purely on the quantity of speeches- the quality must be there as well.
Lastly, please incorporate personality into your speeches! That’s what keeps the round interesting and makes the difference between good speakers and great speakers.