10 Things You Don’t Know You’re Doing That Really Annoy Your Judges

10 Things You Don’t Know You’re Doing That Really Annoy Your Judges
By: Cory Wynn and Kyle Allen-Niesen

You may think that you’re pretty awesome. You might even be awesome, but you still probably do things in rounds that you aren’t even aware of that really annoy your judges.  Unless you know how your judges think or you are Winston Churchill, and practice each speech a billion times in front of a mirror, odds are you probably do at least a few of these important don’ts. If you can’t seem to crack the speaker point code, or live in the desert of 27s and 28s, then it might be because you do some of these things:

  1. You start your timer like it’s the beginning of a horse race.
    Swinging your arms through the air doesn’t make time pass any slower. Not only does it make you look incredibly silly, but also often causes you to start speaking far quicker than you should be.
  2. You act like you’re super close with the judge.
    You may think you’re playing mind games with your opponent when you schmooze with the judge before the round, but the only person you’re hurting is yourself.  Trying to appear close to your judge makes him or her uncomfortable, especially in a round where your opponent doesn’t have the same kind of relationship.  (Also, if you really cared about us, you would have asked how we were doing before we were judging your round… It’s really hurtful :[ )
  3. You steal prep-time.
    This should be really obvious, but don’t steal prep time.  That means stopping your timer before you pull out your papers, organize documents, or drink water. Not only is it unfair to your opponent, but it also wastes the judge’s time.  And obviously that doesn’t make the judge happy.
  4. You use a computer without a hard copy or a flash drive.
    This sort of follows from the “don’t steal prep time” commandment, but it takes FOREVER to transfer files during round, and it creates unnecessary dead space which can annoy the judge. On the other side, if they do have a flash drive, don’t ask for the AC to be flashed, with all files in one document, in reverse alphabetical and chronological order. It’s not that hard to open multiple documents.
  5. You tap your foot so loudly that your judge can’t hear anything you’re reading.
    No, its not because you’re unclear. (Well, it might be…) It’s because I can’t hear you over the sound of your jackhammer foot crashing into the ground every other word. I’m not sure where this trend started, but I can tell you it needs to stop.  It’s fine if you are using it to help you keep a rhythm, but there’s no need to stomp so loudly. Not only will the people in the room below you appreciate your using a softer touch, but it will also help your judge to focus and understand your arguments. Also, to the random-stompers, what gives?????
  6. You blatantly lie about how far you are ahead in the debate.
    It’s fine to say that an argument was dropped when it really was, but claiming that your opponent failed to answer your entire contention when they clearly made responses not only frustrates your judge, but also makes the round far more confusing. When you are losing an argument, don’t lie about it and act overly confident.  Reevaluate your other arguments, figure out another way to win and go for it.  Don’t just pretend your opponent just stared silently at the judge for the past seven minutes.
  7. You show up late to rounds.
    You want to prep before the round with your coaches and pairings were just posted five minutes ago! I get it, but that is no reason to keep the entire room waiting.  While you might think that stealing an extra few minutes to prep will really make all the difference, it frustrates your judges and slows down the tournament. Be considerate, and if you really need to meet with your coaches, make sure you do it quickly (and don’t walk in with your entourage 40 minutes late, Johnny Drama.)
  8. You give excessively long road maps.
    “Start on the AC on contention two, then move to contention one, then up to the framework.  Then go to the cross application of contention three to the disad.  And after that, then go to the overview on my shell, then go to his theory argument and then topicality.  Oh yeah! And voters throughout…wait…Actually its going to be the T debate and then his theory, then my theory. Then go to the AC on contention three with the cross application to the disad, then my framework, contention one, down the case. Ready?”

  9. You show up to rounds unprepared.
    Knowing most debaters, you probably have a ton of stuff to get ready to debate. You need to pre-flow, and, wait, sorry, we forgot to write anything more for this section.  Give us a few minutes?

    Okay, thanks for waiting.  See how annoying that was?
  10. You immediately ask the judge if they need to see any evidence after the round.
    Look, we get it.  Maybe you asked for the judge to call for the evidence, or you just didn’t want to have to get it back out of your expando after you just packed up.  But asking if he or she wants to see the evidence is kind of annoying when you are trying to make a decision, not to mention the fact that you presume that he or she didn’t get it the first time.

It might seem a little crazy to attribute ten random, annoying and common practices to your current speaker point dilemma or your win to loss ratio, but keep in mind, that the judge is still human and that annoyances still factor into decisions subconsciously. And regardless, many of these types of practices can also play a role on how you debate substantively!

Try these out in your next round and let us know how it goes! And other judges: what annoys you in round?

And one bonus annoying thing you might do in round:

11. You start your questions after the round with “didn’t you think”…
No. We didn’t think that…