Katy Taylor TFA TOC NIETOC Fall Classic
2023 — NSDA Campus, TX/US
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I've been judging various forms of speech and debate events on local, state and national levels since 2013. Head coach of St. John's School since 2020.
I have no event specific expectations on what should happen, I prefer everything to be spelled out in round. I do not like intervening.
Speaker points are a tie-breaker, so I am a bit more conservative with them, but that doesn't mean I'll tank your points unless you're unclear, have frequent speech errors, go over time, or if you're rude. Expect an average 27.5-29.5 range in PF/LD/CX and a range of 68-72 in Worlds and a 3-5 range in Congress. Perfect speaks reserved for those who truly exemplify great public speaking skills. Rudeness can also be a cause for a team losing.
Don't assume I know anything, explain as if you were talking to someone non-specialized in whatever subject matter you're speaking on.
Ask before round any further questions you might have.
I will be following the conventions and norms that asks us to:
- think about these things on a more holistic approach;
- nuance our argumentation and engage on the comparative;
- think that the principle level argumentation is key and that the practical should make sense in approaching the principle;
- not engage on tricky arguments or cherry picked examples;
- debate the heart of the motion and not conditionally proposing or opposing (that we are debating the full resolution);
- reward those that lean into their arguments and side;
- preference thinking about the motions on a global scale when applicable.
I believe that everyone has a voice which needs a platform to embrace self-expression, unique personalities, and the social construct of expressive speech in a safe, nurturing environment. As long as we follow the words of Benjamin Franklin, "Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment," for ignorance shall not prevail!
It is imperative to be polite, purposeful. and punctual.
With Lincoln Douglas (LD), I prefer traditional value and criterion debate, impact calculus, solvency, and line-by-line. Speech should have obvious organization which allows me to make a well-informed decision, focusing on presentation, logic, argumentation, and conclusion with a summary to wrap up the topic presented.
With Public Forum (PF), I prefer line-by-line, impact calculus, solid evidence from valid sources, be polite, and time yourselves. There should be a pre-determined resolution based on current events and trends. I should hear valuable insights. If you are providing a "filler", this will guarantee a low score, especially if it is personally offensive to the opponent or other marginalized groups.
With World Schools, I prefer obvious teamwork, focused on the issue presented with in-depth, quality argumentation creating solves with real-world examples while challenging the opposing team on a principled level.
With Congress, I look for proper parliamentary procedures and clarity of delivery through rigor, focused on democracy and clarity of ideas, seriousness in demeanor, and effective empowerment in speaking extemporaneously about the topic. Authenticity with clear speaking points such as sentence structure, eye contact, transitions, and word choice. The standard of decorum must be met.
In terms of speaking events, be purposeful when presenting the piece(s) to the extent that I feel as if you wrote it and expressed it with rigor, intensity, and passion.
You've got this!
Primarily a Congress/Extemp/Worlds judge.
Worlds- strategy is a big part of the game: what are you arguing and why? Find a framework/voting issues/whatever you're calling it and link arguments into the framework. Many debates come down to what the topic actually means and what the framework issues are- so tackle these head on and link your arguments into the framework.
Do a bit of everything- show the logic, weigh the impacts, think about effective delivery. I prefer arguments that are rooted in reality more so than hyperbole. Structure and logic matter a lot- stay organized, hold my hand, walk me down the flow. I like a good line by line debate, but make sure you're linking into the bigger story your team is trying to sell.
In later speeches, think through cohesion. Third constructives with brand new arguments or logic not already laid out by their teammates are likely to do more harm than good for me. Same goes with new substantives in the second constructive: I like them, but leave yourself time to develop them and don't blip them at me with 30 seconds left on the clock.
I love a good POI, but make sure you're asking something that matters and answer the question you were asked. Quality over quantity rules the day in this regard. Speakers should expect to take some, and questioners should not pepper the speaker with requests. For online debates, I prefer verbal POIs and verbal responses to those POIs (whether you take them now, later, or dismiss them).
Congress- First and foremost, this is a debate event. There should be clash, weighing of arguments, and healthy discourse. Argumentation should be realistic with clear links to the legislation. The later in the debate we go, the more clash is expected. New arguments as the 4th advocacy speech will likely not earn you much headway with me. I am particularly impressed by debaters who can synthesize debate well.
Strategy is a big part of Congress. Giving only refutations or only sponsorships does not show your range as a legislator. Parliamentary procedure should be used to advance debate AND your own interests. Debaters should be prepared to argue both sides of legislation- debaters who do so will never find themselves shut out of debate. Think twice before you volunteer to be the second consecutive speech on a given side of a topic- you're likely doing yourself a disservice. I will notice if multiple opportunities go by for you to get a speech in and you choose not to take it.
Questioning- ask strategic questions. You should be soliciting something from the speaker you can use later on in the debate or to defend points you've already made on the topic. When responding, be brief- don't ramble for the sake of killing time. Avoid leading questions that start with "are you aware" and "did you know"- if you're asking a question you already know the answer to because its fact-based, save it for your speech.
POs- I'm a big fan of an efficient, affable PO. You can absolutely get a 1 from me as the PO. The less I/the parli has to intervene, the better. Be free from bias, keep the room moving, and watch your word economy. Do not be afraid to lead. Use consensus motions to save time (e.g. "seeing no objection, I'll open the floor for docket nominations.") Run the room, don't let the room run you. Feel free to hop into the debate and give a speech if tournament rules allow.
A note on language- this should feel like Congress. I've never heard Chuck Schumer say "I affirm the bill" or Kevin McCarthy say "I stand with the negation." Model congressional behavior, not high school debate norms.
LD/PF- Here are a few things you need to know about me that you're probably not used to:
- All time counts. Either it's a speech or it's prep.
- No, I don't want to be on the email chain.
- This is an oral communication activity, not a read-along.
- Don't waste time, just debate.
- If I want to see the card, I'll ask for it. I probably won't ask for it.
- No, I won't disclose. I wrote you a ballot for you and your coach to read.
I'll vote on anything if you give me a good reason, a clear framework, and weighable impacts. I'm not likely to vote on arguments spurious to the resolution, so please debate the topic as presented. I'm not particularly interested in debates outside the scope of the topic. I do believe strongly that debate should be publicly accessible- while I can handle most arguments, a general audience should be persuaded as well as I am. As much as the line by line matters, it is how you use it to build a compelling narrative to vote for your side that really counts.
Evidence- I'm not normal when it comes to evidence. Just because you have a card doesn't mean the card is gospel. Look for the warrants. Challenge the logic, whether it has cards or not. I do not flow author names- if you say "extend the Warren card", I will have no idea what you're talking about. I very rarely ask to read evidence after the round and I'm ok with paraphrasing evidence as long as the full text is available in round. I have zero tolerance for waiting for evidence to be exchanged- if you're going to use an email chain, use it. Have all of your evidence ready to exchange the moment it is asked for. All time counts- either it's speech time or it's prep time. There's no such thing as 'off time roadmaps' and 'waiting to see the card'.
Speed kills- don't spread. You can go faster than normal conversation, but not by much. This is a communication activity after all.
Extempers- answer the question. That's my primary consideration. Sources are your friend. They should be recent and relevant. Also answer the question. Delivery should be conversational and engaging- show us your personality. Also answer the question. Think about feasibility of arguments. Then answer the question. Don't just tell me that things happened, tell me why things happened. Have I mentioned you should answer the question? Use research that is specific to the topic and shows your ability to access resources- if it's an internet-prep tournament, I expect to hear more than just what a google search pops out as the first five links. Find the good research. Then answer the question.
OO/Info- same as extemp, except replace 'answer the question' with 'defend your thesis'. I prefer OOs with interesting angles on topics and a unique perspective. In Info, I want a 'need to know'- what do you expect me to do with this information? There's a big difference between informative and persuasive: Infos that have call to actions or are describing problems in huge detail implying we should solve them aren't infos. Visual aids in Info should contribute to the understanding of the concept- I don't like VAs that are just for fun/entertainment. Note: VAs are not in fact required. If you don't need them, don't use them.
Interp- crisp, clear characterization matters. I look for continuity/flow in the cutting, believability and relatability in the performance, and a variance in emotion as the piece/cutting builds. The introduction should say something and give me a reason to watch the performance- there should be social significance and an argument laid out. Particularly for POI and program cuttings in Poetry, I'm looking to see if you have an interesting argument and if the lit says what you say it says. I want to see characters that feel real and grow as the piece progresses. Less is more- use all your communicative skills to convey emotion. There are ways to show anger other than yelling, there are ways to show sadness other than screaming.
A Note on Time in Speech Events- prepared events should not require time signals (you should know roughly how long your speech is). I do not believe the grace period is an excuse to add 30 seconds to performances, especially in extemp. I'll give you a couple of seconds leeway as a benefit of the doubt, but if you are clearly abusing the grace period, I will have issues.