Judge Instructions

Making a Decision in the Great Communicator Debate

The Great Communicator Debate is an individual event that advocates or rejects a position posed by the resolution. A central tenet of the debate is that the clash of ideas must be communicated in a manner persuasive to the non-specialist or “citizen judge,” i.e. a member of the American Jury.

A Great Communicator Debate should:

  • Display solid logic, reasoning, and analysis
  • Utilize evidence but not be driven by it
  • Present a clash of ideas
  • Counter the arguments of the opponents (rebuttal)
  • Communicate ideas with clarity, organization, eloquence and civility

In making a decision, a judge should be as objective as possible. Judges should adjudicate the round as it is debated, not as they personally feel.  Judges should not disclose their preferences.

  1. Procedure and Order/Time Limits of Speeches:
    • The Affirmative should sit on the judge’s left hand side with the Negative sitting on the judge’s right.
    • The Affirmative will always speak first. During the Crossfire, the Affirmative will ask the first question.
    • Each side receives 2 minutes of prep time which can be used at any point during the When one side asks to use their prep time, the opposing side may also use the time.


AFFIRMATIVE 5 minutes Opening Statement
NEGATIVE 5 minutes Opening Statement
AFFIRMATIVE 4 minutes Rebuttal
NEGATIVE 4 minutes Rebuttal
CROSSFIRE 3 minutes
MODERATOR 3 minutes Pose questions to each side*
AFFIRMATIVE 3 minutes Closing
NEGATIVE 3 minutes Closing
PREP TIME 2 minutes

*Like a presidential debate, the moderator will at this point have an opportunity to pose a question to each debater. In general, this should be to clarify or help the competitor expand on a point from earlier.

  1. Timing: Timekeepers are optional but not Debaters may time for themselves and for their opponent.
  2. Plans/Counterplans: Similar to Public Forum Debate, a plan or counterplan is a formalized, comprehensive proposal for Neither the pro nor the con side is permitted to offer a plan or counterplan.
  3. Closing: No new arguments may be introduced in the Closing; however, debaters may include new evidence to support prior.
  4. Speaker Points: The scoring scale will be based on 100 points. The winner of the debate MUST receive the higher speaking score and debaters may not receive the same score. When scoring, please consider the debater’s performance on the following:

Overarching Big Picture – Civility – Use of Compelling Evidence

Storytelling – Strategic Responses to Opponent & Moderator – Passion & Strength


Scoring Scale
100 Perfect (A+) 70-79 Average (C)
90 – 99 Outstanding (A) 60-69 Below Average (D)
80 – 89 Above Average (B) 59 or lower Unethical/ Inappropriate Behavior


  1. Filling out the Ballot: When you come to the end of your ballot, you will be asked to give answers to the following questions for each debater.
    • Reason for my decision (cite specific arguments that had a bearing).
    • Describe 1-2 areas where the debater excelled.
    • Describe 1-2 areas where the debate needs improvement.
    • General comments to the debater.

View the Great Communicator Debate Ballot 2017.