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 Post subject: Prelims vs outrounds?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:42 pm 
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I'm pretty frustrated about debate right now, so I thought I'd post and see if you guys have any advice. In my two years of debating I've had a winning record (in prelims) at six or seven tournaments, but I have NEVER won an outround. This last tournament my partner and I were 6-0 and debated the lowest seed in octafinals, but we still weren't able to win that round and advance again.

My partner and I are both decent speakers and we don't get nervous in outrounds, so I really don't know what to do. It's clear to me that judges think differently while judging outrounds rather than prelims, but how do I adjust my debate tactics accordingly? Has anyone else experienced this problem? Any thoughts at all would be much appreciated. :D

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R4 | 2011-2012 | Burton/Fuhrmann (9th at regionals, Q'd to nationals)
R4 | 2012-2013 | Frantz/Fuhrmann (9th at regionals)
R4 | 2013-2014 | Fuhrmann/Larussa (13th at regionals, Q'd to nationals)
R4 | 2014-2015 | Fuhrmann^2 (1st at Wylie qualifier, Q'd to nationals)


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:59 pm 
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i think judges tend to have more of a negative bias in outrounds. i'm not sure why, but of the 5 outrounds i've debated, we have always gone aff when we got the flip, and our opponents have always chosen aff when they could as well. but we are 0-2 on aff (although 1 of those losses was my novice year) and 2-1 on neg (and the loss was to comfort/thomas, and a 2-3 split). thinking back to the other outrounds i've watched, i do think that judges go neg more often. so, you might want to consider choosing neg, if you get the chance, especially if you know what the other team is running and are fairly confident that you can beat it. of course, i haven't chosen to go neg before, but i think we may try it this year (if my partner is ok with it, and if we know the case we're hitting).

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2010-11 | Freshman | Bardsley/King | IX | 13th at Regionals
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2013-14 | Senior | Dovel/King | IX | 5th at Nationals

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2013 12:20 am 
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Thanks for your input, Will! I tend to do better on negative than affirmative in prelims, but I usually do end up losing on negative in outrounds (I've never won a coin flip). So that doesn't seem to be the problem. :( IF I got to choose, though, I would definitely consider going negative especially if I was familiar with the case.
I've thought about this some more, and I think I have more trouble connecting with multiple judges as opposed to just one judge, is there anything I could do to work on that? (this might also be why I am so much worse at speech than debate... but that's a topic for a different thread) I can usually read one judge and argue accordingly, but it's so much harder with three judges and plus I'm not great at dividing my eye contact between them.

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R4 | 2011-2012 | Burton/Fuhrmann (9th at regionals, Q'd to nationals)
R4 | 2012-2013 | Frantz/Fuhrmann (9th at regionals)
R4 | 2013-2014 | Fuhrmann/Larussa (13th at regionals, Q'd to nationals)
R4 | 2014-2015 | Fuhrmann^2 (1st at Wylie qualifier, Q'd to nationals)


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2013 1:35 am 
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Are any patterns showing up on the elim ballots? Any comments appearing repeatedly?

The only other thing I can think of is that you might be getting too psyched up. I've had a few competitors over the years to whom I've had to give anti-pep talks: "This is just another debate. Be smart, be focused, and do the exact same things that brought you here. Don't get revved up, or you'll take unnecessary risks or get unnecessarily bombastic." It's not about nervousness; it's about thinking muscle is better than precision, just because it's an outround. Debate is debate is debate, and precision continues to be better than muscle.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2013 1:43 am 
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I think the main difference between prelims and outrounds in NCFCA is that judges recognize that outrounds are elimination rounds, so they're alright with having more serious and intense outrounds than prelims. In prelims, your judges want to see you acting very polite, speaking slowly and overall having fun. They don't like to see you being aggressive or speedy, and they don't like competitors who only seem to care about the win. Judges become more tolerant of speed, intensity and aggressiveness in outrounds. Judges tend to understand that outrounds are more stressful, and they can understand why you would care so much about winning the round. While being overly-serious is detrimental in prelims, it won't hard your likability as much in outrounds since judges can understand your nervousness. Large audiences also compensate a bit for some speaking flaws. For example, speakers who speak very formally and have trouble speaking casually do better in outrounds, since the judge sees it as more of a formal debate round and can understand if you look a bit stiff. Speakers who have trouble giving direct eye contact benefit from larger audiences since the large audience gives them an excuse to give less direct eye contact to judges. Speakers who seem rehearsed may come off as 'robotic' in front of only one judge, but 'polished' in front of an audience.

In the end, though, you never know what your judges are looking for, and it's dangerous to assume that "since I'm in outrounds, I don't have to speak well anymore because the audience will cover my flaws!" If you and your partner are the two best speakers in the room, and you win all the arguments, you're likely going to win the round. It's way more important to focus on being the best speakers and winning all the arguments in every round than it is to strategize the difference between prelims and outrounds. :)


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2013 3:02 am 
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I'm not all that experienced(I've only done 4 outrounds in debate), but maybe a couple things to look for would be:

Professionalism: In outrounds(as opposed to prelims) there is a higher expectation. You are expected to be one of the more experienced teams. Judges are looking to see you have polish and poise in everything you do. So that applies to when you are getting up to speak and how you conduct yourself at the table.

I think making eye contact with the judges is important too, so try to do that as much as possible. :) I try my best to do this but it's tough with 3-7 judges sometimes. I've heard some people like to either look at 1 judge for 3 seconds, or until you complete a full thought and then move on to the next judge.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2013 5:39 am 
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The best advice I ever got about outrounds (which is what we would tell to every single person who broke in my club before their rounds) is that you need to look like the team who deserves to win. Subconsciously, I think judges in general tend to give more favor to the team who seems like they're the better debate team, even if the flow of that particular round might indicate a loss. So when you walk into an outround OWN the room. Don't appear nervous. Be confident. Walk with purpose. Arrange your table in an organized fashion. Chat with the judges. You are in control of that room from the moment you step into it.

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I currently help coach at TACT in Region X.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2013 4:58 pm 
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I like that advice a lot, but I'm going to add one detail to it: be sure you know the difference between confident and arrogant. A clue: confidence is powerful and unmistakable, but at the same time quiet and understated. Lose those last bits and you'll edge over into arrogance, and your judges may subconsciously root for you to make a fatal mistake.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2013 7:17 pm 
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I totally understand where you are coming from. I had never won an outround in debate prior to the last tournament, so keep in mind my advice is based off of somewhat limited outround experience (broke to outrounds 4-ish times)

The advice I would give is first of all, stay calm and realize that every round is an opportunity to glorify God. Do not get upset or frustrated over outrounds. Debate is an academic exercise which is training us up for success in real life. I treat every round the same way, regardless of who I'm debating: as if it were the final round at Nationals. Treat every round as a way to bring honor to your Creator.

Also, do not switch your overall style in outrounds. My personal style is more relaxed but I can switch to intense, debate theory mode if needed. Keep debating the same way you do in prelims because if you switch, judges will notice the change. But, be prepared for intense "firefight" rounds and debate accordingly. Do minor "tweaks" and not major "extreme makeovers" to your style. If you were able to get to outrounds with your debating style, then your style should carry you through pretty well.

Follow what your judges suggest in their judging philosophies. I know it sounds kind of obvious, but I have seen countless times where a debater asks for a judging paradigm or philosophy, the judge gives them the "keys to the kingdom" to win, and the debaters don't follow through and do exactly what the judge said not to. I won my first outround this way - by simply following the roadmap the judges gave me.

Another related note on judging: be sure you know who your judges are. A funny story was told to me by one of my previous club coaches. The debate resolution was on healthcare. He was judging a round where both debate teams were absolutely lambasting the medical industry and healthcare professionals/doctors. The problem was: my coach is a medical doctor. Yeah. Didn’t go over very well. :p

Make sure you are absolutely clear on each argument you make. Prioritize what you should focus your offense on. I lost in the semifinal round because I did not adequately address the NEG case. I was too busy rebutting my opponent's responses to my case. Good time management and prioritization/specialization of arguments is absolutely vital to doing well in outrounds (and in prelims too, but judges are much more lenient if you miss a couple arguments in prelims yet still win the debate).

Overall, outrounds are more intense than the normal prelim round. But don’t let that intimidate you. Outrounds can be a very fun and enjoyable experience if you come in with the right attitude and mindset. :)

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2013 7:53 pm 
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Thanks everyone for the advice!! You guys have some really good tips, I appreciate it a lot :D

DrSraderNCU wrote:
Are any patterns showing up on the elim ballots? Any comments appearing repeatedly?


I just read through the elimination ballots I could find, and I've been told a few times that I should slow down. Also I get a lot of comments telling me to smile more, haha. I've been neg without a brief in two of my outrounds, so the reason for losing those rounds is pretty clear. I do think that judges expect you to be more prepared against a case when you are in outrounds than they do in prelims.

DrSraderNCU wrote:
The only other thing I can think of is that you might be getting too psyched up. I've had a few competitors over the years to whom I've had to give anti-pep talks: "This is just another debate. Be smart, be focused, and do the exact same things that brought you here. Don't get revved up, or you'll take unnecessary risks or get unnecessarily bombastic." It's not about nervousness; it's about thinking muscle is better than precision, just because it's an outround. Debate is debate is debate, and precision continues to be better than muscle.


This makes sense but for me, I think I might actually need to raise my energy level in outrounds. I tend to be really tired at that point in a tournament and that could be another reason I'm losing. At this last tournament when I lost in octas (to my former partner, haha), I think that the other team came across as more enthusiastic and passionate about their case, so they were more likable. Here in R4 it does seem like judges prefer the energetic speakers, based on the teams that win tournaments. I don't know, is this true in general? If so I'll need to make some adjustments to my speaking style. :) It seems difficult to become more passionate while slowing down my pace, though.

Also, I often have the bad luck to debate my friends in outrounds (I've debated members of my club in three times now), so while I DO want to win, maybe I'm not being mean aggressive enough. :D Thoughts?

@ParadigmPWNS: you have some really good advice. I like the idea of treating every round like finals at nationals! I do feel like I need to make some change to my debate style in outrounds, though, since I have been losing so consistently with my current style. But I definitely agree with your points about the judges and time management.

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~ Istra Fuhrmann

R4 | 2011-2012 | Burton/Fuhrmann (9th at regionals, Q'd to nationals)
R4 | 2012-2013 | Frantz/Fuhrmann (9th at regionals)
R4 | 2013-2014 | Fuhrmann/Larussa (13th at regionals, Q'd to nationals)
R4 | 2014-2015 | Fuhrmann^2 (1st at Wylie qualifier, Q'd to nationals)


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2013 9:32 pm 
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Well, it's energy level, but energy level combined with a few other factors. A team can be high energy and sound like they care a lot about their affirmative, but also frazzled and frantic. Or a team can sound excited about being absolutely certain that they're winning the debate. The latter demeanor improves your chances, but the former hurts them.

Judge knowledge is another factor: if the judges know enough about the issues to know who's more nearly right, then energy level is only an issue in a very close debate. If the judges know little about the issues and are depending on you to educate them, then energy level combined with polish will make a much bigger difference than who's right on the merits.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:17 am 
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013 wrote:
Chat with the judges.

Do not do this in NCFCA. You will be crucified for it. NCFCA strictly forbids any interaction with the judges outside of briefly greeting them, delivering your speechs to them and asking for a judging philosophy. NCFCA views forbidden interactions as "extending your platform time" beyond the rigidly set time limits, which supposedly could give one team an unfair advantage. You may be compelled to forfeight the round or be disqualified for such interactions.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 4:17 am 
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artsi1 wrote:
I can usually read one judge and argue accordingly, but it's so much harder with three judges and plus I'm not great at dividing my eye contact between them.

I used to be really bad about giving "machine gun" eye contact. I'd switch between the judges too quickly. I'm not sure if that's your problem, but I think that it can be helpful to look at the same judge for a good 15-30 seconds. Try, for instance, giving the entire link for a DA to one judge and then looking at another judge while presenting the impacts. This seems to improve a debater's overall presence at the podium. I'm not sure if it will help you read judges though.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 7:04 am 
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Mr Glasses wrote:
013 wrote:
Chat with the judges.

Do not do this in NCFCA. You will be crucified for it. NCFCA strictly forbids any interaction with the judges outside of briefly greeting them, delivering your speechs to them and asking for a judging philosophy. NCFCA views forbidden interactions as "extending your platform time" beyond the rigidly set time limits, which supposedly could give one team an unfair advantage. You may be compelled to forfeight the round or be disqualified for such interactions.


What? That's crazy. Wow. They didn't have that rule when I was competing. I always wished I was better at small talk because I always made these awkward silences during the pre-round.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 11:33 pm 
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Ginger Josh wrote:
artsi1 wrote:
I can usually read one judge and argue accordingly, but it's so much harder with three judges and plus I'm not great at dividing my eye contact between them.

I used to be really bad about giving "machine gun" eye contact. I'd switch between the judges too quickly. I'm not sure if that's your problem, but I think that it can be helpful to look at the same judge for a good 15-30 seconds. Try, for instance, giving the entire link for a DA to one judge and then looking at another judge while presenting the impacts. This seems to improve a debater's overall presence at the podium. I'm not sure if it will help you read judges though.


Yes, this sounds very helpful, because that is my issue with eye contact. I tend to scan back and forth between the judges instead of actually connecting with any of them.

013 wrote:
Mr Glasses wrote:
013 wrote:
Chat with the judges.

Do not do this in NCFCA. You will be crucified for it. NCFCA strictly forbids any interaction with the judges outside of briefly greeting them, delivering your speechs to them and asking for a judging philosophy. NCFCA views forbidden interactions as "extending your platform time" beyond the rigidly set time limits, which supposedly could give one team an unfair advantage. You may be compelled to forfeight the round or be disqualified for such interactions.


What? That's crazy. Wow. They didn't have that rule when I was competing. I always wished I was better at small talk because I always made these awkward silences during the pre-round.


Yeah, I've seen people get in a lot of trouble for this. :| But acting confident and friendly around the judges can't hurt. :)

_________________
~ Istra Fuhrmann

R4 | 2011-2012 | Burton/Fuhrmann (9th at regionals, Q'd to nationals)
R4 | 2012-2013 | Frantz/Fuhrmann (9th at regionals)
R4 | 2013-2014 | Fuhrmann/Larussa (13th at regionals, Q'd to nationals)
R4 | 2014-2015 | Fuhrmann^2 (1st at Wylie qualifier, Q'd to nationals)


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:42 pm 
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Sorry this is going to analytical instead of emotional.

You have only been debating two years, this is your second? and we are only talking about 6 tournaments. What were your record when you went to outrounds. Next are you 100% sure they are powermatching rounds 5 and 6 of prelims. Let examine some possibilities.

If you have gone to outrounds 5 times and had a 3-3 or 4-2 record in prelims....you should not expect to win most of the time since you are facing 5-1 and 6-0 teams.

If you have gone 5-1 and 6-0 at every tournament and never won...I would think something very crazy is happening and be very concerned

Think about powermatching rounds 5 and 6 if they are doing it that means a couple things depending again on your record could be you are 4-0 going then running into other 4-0 teams and losing resulting in 4-2 record and facing another 6-0 and losing first outround or you are 2-2 meeting easier team boosting your record to 4-2 then again you are knocked out by a 5-1 or 6-0 team.

My biggest point being that if you go 5-1 or 6-0 at 4 or 5 tournaments you will start winning outrounds trust me. I think the biggest thing is to not be so concerned about outcomes and ask yourself this question are you a better more prepared debater than you were when you started. I think homeschool debate in general does give new debaters especially given smaller local tournaments a false sense that as a first year debater you can go win tournaments competing against debaters who are 3 and 4 year debaters.

I don't want to be a wet blanket but I just want you to have realistic expectation focus on becoming a better debater the wins in outrounds will take care of themselves.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 7:52 pm 
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The important thing to remember is that the mind of the judge can be a very fickle thing. You could get a set of community judges who know nothing about debate in your outround. The only real way to prepare or to even get better is just to keep practicing debate. You can't force a win in a debate round. It is all up to convincing judges which you can't force in any way.

Second thing. Again, you are only in your second year. I've only broken once in debate and that was this year which is my third year. Don't rush into it. Get more experience in debate first. If you still have problems, then come back. My brother competed four years in TP. He never broke at all in any of his four years. That might be a better time to complain about not being able to get past octa-finals. ;) And I apologize if this post seems too blunt. :)

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 7:57 pm 
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To expand on Coach Carter's comment above, official NCFCA tournaments are very consistent in their powermatching scheme, so you can pretty much guarantee that rounds 4 through 6 are powermatched high-low within brackets. (See NCFCA Debate Tabulation Guidelines.) This means that, if you're capable of going 6-0, you are not a bad team at all - so you just need to make sure you're debating with the same quality in outrounds as you are in prelims.

(Coach Carter - I found a spare box of commas at a garage sale last week, would you like it? :P)

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 9:43 pm 
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Quick update: I've been away at a tournament, and I won my first outround! Thanks everyone for all of the feedback, I truly think it helped me. :D (that, and we finally were able to go affirmative in our outround).

In response to Coach Carter's comments, I've usually been the higher seed in outrounds. I've been 5-1 in three of my outrounds, 6-0 in one of them, and 4-2 in three of my outrounds (I've never been 3-3 at a tournament). I'm sure that the last two prelim rounds are power matched.

Coach Carter wrote:
If you have gone 5-1 and 6-0 at every tournament and never won...I would think something very crazy is happening and be very concerned

I haven't done that well, but yes, I was getting concerned about my outrounds. :) I absolutely don't think that there has been anything wrong with the tournament itself, just my outround strategies.

Coach Carter wrote:
My biggest point being that if you go 5-1 or 6-0 at 4 or 5 tournaments you will start winning outrounds trust me. I think the biggest thing is to not be so concerned about outcomes and ask yourself this question are you a better more prepared debater than you were when you started.
I don't want to be a wet blanket but I just want you to have realistic expectation focus on becoming a better debater the wins in outrounds will take care of themselves.

Hammy wrote:
Second thing. Again, you are only in your second year. I've only broken once in debate and that was this year which is my third year. Don't rush into it. Get more experience in debate first. If you still have problems, then come back. My brother competed four years in TP. He never broke at all in any of his four years. That might be a better time to complain about not being able to get past octa-finals. ;)

Yes, both of you are definitely correct here... winning outrounds is probably the wrong priority for me, and I do want to become more prepared and experienced as well. I'll keep that in mind, and I originally posted about outrounds just because I was pretty frustrated that I didn't seem able to advance. I'm also hoping to get more at-large points, since last year I only qualified to nationals on the strength of my prelim record at regionals. I can't count on that luck again this year. ;) I hope I don't sound too unappreciative of my preliminary records, but I do want to continue improving in debate.

_________________
~ Istra Fuhrmann

R4 | 2011-2012 | Burton/Fuhrmann (9th at regionals, Q'd to nationals)
R4 | 2012-2013 | Frantz/Fuhrmann (9th at regionals)
R4 | 2013-2014 | Fuhrmann/Larussa (13th at regionals, Q'd to nationals)
R4 | 2014-2015 | Fuhrmann^2 (1st at Wylie qualifier, Q'd to nationals)


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 6:12 am 
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>> Second year debater
>> Goes 6/0 once and 5/1 three times...

I must meet this person! :)

I'm on my third year and I'm feeling your pain. I've done three tourneys so far this year, 5/1 once and 4/2 twice, knocked out of octas three times. Once aff, twice neg.

It's frustrating not to advance, but I think the key is connecting with judges. Get solid eye contact with all of them for a good period of time. If you just scan them you're saying stuff to the air.

But if you look at a judge they feel more compelled to listen to what you're saying.

Also, about judging philosophies: Give each judge at least one argument they'd love. Alumni judge who likes impact? Give him a good impact, and lots of eye contact while saying "his" argument. Parent judge who wants you to "debate politely and ethically"? Point out their out of context evidence and smile a lot while looking at that judge. Community judge who has no clue but is a computer guy?

Make a computer analogy while giving him eye contact.

I need to try my own advice, gosh. :P

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