Speaker points are subjective measures of speaking ability. They are assigned based on both argumentation and speaking style. Unfortunately, debaters too often rely on their evidence to perform their persuasion for them. Work on your speaking style and avoid these speaking Don'ts in order to improve your speaker points!
The Top Ten Speaking Don’ts:
10. Waving hands and arms. Don’t expend all of your energy waving your arms around like you’re trying to fly away. It’ll make you out of breath and means your hands are further from your flow, pen, and evidence.
9. Double breath/gulp. Breathing once works just fine. All of those unnecessary breaths are seconds that add up.
8. Spit face. Lick your lips every once in a while to avoid looking like a rabid animal.
7. Tapping foot. Debates are not concerts. Keep your feet still to save energy and prevent noise that interferes with the speech.
6. Oscillating volume. Finding a rhythm is good, but rhythmic volume change is distracting. Emphasize tags, important arguments, and key phrases—not every third sentence.
5. Crutch phrases. Don’t say “we’re always gonna win that…” every time an argument is extended. This habit wastes precious speech time on non-arguments.
4. Talking after the timer goes off. BEEP-BEEP-BEEP = shut up! It angers the other team and irritates judges who think it’s unfair for you to make extra arguments.
3. Staring into the computer. The judge signs the ballot, not your laptop.
2. Interrupting others. Forcing your partner to parrot you or refusing to let the other team answer questions in cross-x is rude and perceptually makes you look like you’ve lost control of the debate.
1. Being unclear. Debate is primarily a speaking activity. Don’t make the judge strain to hear you speak, or worse, give up entirely.
Be still unless naturally gesturing for emphasis.
Be confident and polite.
Focus on persuading the judge.
Watch your speaker points go up!