Winning British Parliamentary Debate Competitions Guide: Top 4 Strategies to Dominate Your Judge's Notes

Coach Mike
Post by Coach Mike
Winning British Parliamentary Debate Competitions Guide: Top 4 Strategies to Dominate Your Judge's Notes

The famous French football player, Lacazette, once said, "I don't care how people judge me." Well, he’s never done competitive debate. If he had, he’d not only care about how his case is judged, but he’d also want to help the judge make the right call.

In British Parliamentary Debates, judges are asked to play the hypothetical role of an “average reasonable person” or an “informed global citizen.” And as much as humanly possible, they’re expected to assess the persuasiveness of speeches according to a shared set of judging criteria rather than according to their own pre-formed views.

Even though adjudicators try to be as objective as possible, it’s hard to always come up with a mathematically precise decision for every debate. What this means is, that you want to help the judge justify a decision that would give you the win. Make it easy for them to give you the call in your favor. Well, how do we do this? That’s what we’re about to tackle. In this article, you’ll learn to adapt the way you present your constructive content and engagement with the other teams to the way debate adjudication actually happens in real life.

A full British Parliamentary debate includes eight speeches, each of which is seven minutes long. That’s almost a full hour of talking. It’s not possible for the judge to remember everything that was said so they must rely on notes. However, it's unlikely that they’ll be able to write down everything. Judges also have a limited time to go over these notes, weigh everything up, and reach their decision. Sometimes no more than a few minutes, even though the debate may have been quite complex.

Why is this relevant for you as a speaker? Because unlike what many speakers think, winning a debate is not just about who gives the smartest analysis or who has the more clever points and responses. It's often about who actively helps the judge to understand that their analysis was the cleverest or the smartest. And the two are not always the same. Your goal in the debate is to help the judge reach and justify a decision in your favor. To achieve this, you want to tailor your speech so that the judge can:

· First: easily take notes during your speech

· And second: see clearly that your team has won the debate from just a brief review of their notes.

What’s the purpose of this? To have maximum control over the content of the judge's notes. But how exactly do you do this? Here are four delivery strategies to dominate your judge’s notes:

Don't Speak Too Quickly

You want the judge to be easily able to follow your ideas and have time to write them down. Speaking slowly, like this, allows them to do so. Many speakers believe that speaking as quickly as possible helps them get in more information. That is far from the truth. If you speak too quickly, even if the judge understands what you are saying at the moment, they won't have time to write it and, therefore, they won't remember it by the end of the round. So instead of getting more information onto their notes, you get less. This is also true when you ask POIs. For the POI to be effective, you need the judge to properly hear and understand it.

Be Articulate and Easy to Follow

You don't want the judge to miss out on important points because your ideas were a bit too complicated or too messy to write down. Try to be precise and use simple words as much as possible. Also, remember to keep your sentences short and sweet.

Don't Be Monotonous

You might lose your judge's attention if you do. Actively modulate and play with your voice throughout your speech.

Emphasize Important Sentences

Emphasize important sentences by slowing your pace down and adjusting the tone and volume of your voice, as well as your body language. For example, you would want to stress things like the fact that the other team has not proven a burden or that your rebuttal has destroyed the bulk of their case. This prevents the judge from missing the crux of your case.

So, let’s recap! You’ve now seen four delivery strategies that can be used to dominate your judge's notes. In the second part of this article, you’ll learn how to organize and state your ideas in a way that’ll help them stand out in the judge's notes.

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Coach Mike
Post by Coach Mike