Dear Jim,Ten seems like a good number. Here are a few things you can do to increase your speaker points. (Have other ideas? Suggest 'em in the comments.)
I am a novice in LD but I have attended a debate camp over the previous summer and competed in my first tournament last Saturday. I went 4-0 but only placed 3rd in the novice division due to speaker points. Unfortunately, many of the tournaments we have around here do not have elimination rounds. I was wondering how I could possibly increase my speaker points. Maybe you could give me a top 10 things to do or something similar. The debate camp I went to was more focused on JV and V levels and thus were focused on argumentation and higher level debate skills, many of which I picked up quickly. I really enjoy your blog and it has helped me.
Thanks in advance,
1. Work on your prose.
Write your cases so they're elegant, not just functional. Learn some rhetorical devices and employ them (judiciously, of course). I particularly like anaphora and epistrophe, especially when allied with asyndeton and polysyndeton. Your case, at least on the Affirmative, is your first chance to shine. Don't waste it.
2. Work on your prosody.
The best speech is like music, with discernible rhythm and melody. Bust out of monotone, slow down a little, and emphasize the words that really count.
3. Introduce and conclude.
I know it's the fashion for some debaters to skip the "fluff" because, in their view, it wastes precious time, time that could be spent warranting or analyzing the resolution or dropping a second underview (yeah, I've seen it). However, don't underestimate the power of a snappy quote, or, heaven forfend, a poignant anecdote.
4. Be charming.
Simple things: eye contact, a smile. Don't ask your judge, "What's your paradigm?" Instead, ask what school they're from, or "What do you look for in a round?" or "Anything we should know before the round starts?" Sound like a human being, not Debate Robot 3000.
5. Be forceful, but not irritable.
Don't sound, or look, like a jerk.
6. Be gracious in defeat--and moreso in victory.
Say "Good round" when it was. On the other hand, don't say "Good round" if you thoroughly trashed your opponent. You will sound insincere and condescending. Thank the judge for judging instead, and don't speak unless your opponent wants to talk with you.
7. Have an organized approach.
Have a roadmap: "First I'll address my opponent's points, then rebuild my own." Line-by-line is safe for starters.
8. Be witty.
Pepper your thoughts with pithy quotes by folks like Mark Twain or Mae West. If you're good at telling jokes, use one as an analogy. (If you're not good at telling jokes, please, don't.)
9. Don't suck up to the judge.
Seriously. Don't compliment them (it'll ring hollow). Don't shake hands (it's awkward for some of us, and it spreads disease). Don't over-apologize for being late (it happens to everyone; it's usually extemp's fault).
10. Videotape yourself, and learn from the experience.
You'll be glad you did.