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In the judges’ room, pick up the blank ballots and cover sheet (with the student speakers listed by code numbers) for the speech event you wish to judge. You may only judge each event one time per tournament.


Listen to the speeches in the order listed. (If a student is not present when it is time for you to hear that speech, you may hear the other speeches out of order. If a student is late please make a notation on the cover sheet; hear the student in the appropriate order, or as close to it as you can.)


Do not ask the students their names or what schools they are from, to prevent any possible bias. Do not interrupt a student’s presentation.  Make your final decision about the ranks to assign the students after all the speeches have been given (specific instructions below). Fill in each of the ballots and cover sheet completely (instructions below). Then immediately return with your completed ballots and cover sheet to the judges’ room. Do not give out ballots or comments to students; do not reveal your rankings to the students.


If a problem involving the application of any tournament rules arises while you are hearing speeches, hear out all the speeches if possible, and ask a tournament official about the problem when you return to the judges’ room.


It is very difficult to judge students whom you know, and it is almost always quite disconcerting for the students. If you know students competing in the tournament (such as your son or daughter or their best friend), it is best to avoid judging their event entirely. If you know a student in a group you are about to judge, take the ballot back to the judges’ room to exchange ballots. You may only judge each event one time per tournament



The Ballot:
You will have one ballot for each student.  Fill in the ballot completely:  the student's code number at the top, the student's rank at the bottom, and comments in the spaces provided (and of the back of the ballott if you need room).  Fill in the cover sheet completely with your name (printed), your school affiliation, the titles of the presentations heard, and the rankings you assigned to the speakers.  Check the ballots and cover sheet for accuracy before turning them in.  Especially check to make sure that you have given the correct rankings and have correctly matched the code numbers to the specific students you heard.  This is ijmportant if the speeches are delivered out of order.  If you believe a violation of the rules as occurred, please inidate the letter of the vioation in the appropriate box on you ballot.  Do not penalize any speaker in your rankings.  Tournament officials will assess all pentalies.


Making a Decision:
After hearing all the students, rank them according to your judgment of the relative quality of their presentations. The student you thought was the best of the group gets a “1”, the second best a “2”, etc. Indicate your ranking by circling the appropriate number at the top of the ballot and by writing the ranking beside the student’s code number on the cover sheet. On the cover sheet, do not give any ties (rank 1 through 7); however, on the ballot, if a student places lower than 5th, simply circle the “5”; do not write in “6” or “7”. Usually each group of students has one judge. If more than one judge is present, each judge must evaluate the students independently; do not confer. In making your evaluations, consider both the content and the delivery of the speech. Students may support issues or viewpoints that are contrary to your thinking. Please judge on the quality of the speech, not on whether a student agrees with you. Use the evaluation areas listed on the ballot as guides in making your judgment. You should take notes during the speeches, and you may find it useful to assign preliminary rankings as you hear each presentation.


Comments are extremely important in helping the students to understand how their presentations affected the listener, why they received the rankings given, and how to do better. Almost all comments are useful. The evaluation guidelines on the ballot suggest areas for comment, but you should not feel restricted to these areas. Please write both positive and constructively critical comments. Put all comments on the ballot; do not give oral critiques. You may write comments during the speeches, but try to balance writing with listening to and watching the speaker.

If a student doesn’t place among the top speakers in the room, it’s very useful for them to understand why. Use your brief comments as a means of helping him or her improve in the future. Be tactfully truthful! Thank you for your care in making comments for the competitors.


All speech events have a maximum time limit. No event has a minimum time required. It is best to use a stopwatch when holding students to time violations. Students in Extemporaneous Speaking and Impromptu must have their speeches timed and must get time signals from the judge. Give those students a signal for each minute that they have left, beginning with 5 minutes left, then 4,3,2,1, then a ½ minute signal (make a letter “C” with your hand) and a time’s up (closed fist). Competitors in other events do not receive time signals.


If a student goes over the time limit by more than 30 seconds over, mark the appropriate violation on the ballot. DO NOT lower rank, this will be handled in the TAB room.  Do not stop a speech if it goes over the time limit; let the student finish.



Impromptu                     5 minutes (not counting 2 minutes prep time)

Extemporaneous            7 minutes (not counting 30 minute prep time)

Expository                   10 minutes (including setup and takedown of visual aids)

Oratory                        10 minutes

Advocacy                     10 minutes

Interpretation                10 minutes (including introductory or transitional material)

(Dramatic, humorous, duo, thematic, oratorical)


Enforcing the Rules:
Confusion or conflict about specific rules may arise while you are judging. Almost always, the best course of action is for you to hear the speeches, make your evaluation of the speaker as if there were no question about the rules, and then consult with tournament officials about the rules in question after the round is over. If the speeches have been heard and evaluated completely, we can do a much better job of determining the best course of action. If you believe a violation of the rules has occurred, please indicate the letter of the violation in the violation box on your ballot. Do not penalize any speaker in your rankings. Tournament officials will assess all penalties


Below are some helpful links to assist you in becoming the best judge ever!