I was adjudicating in a panel one day, in NineCity (SMA 9 Yk Debating Competition). One team won unanimously. Glad that we didnt need to dispute about anything (not that it would matter anyway, but its just cool to be unanimous), I asked of the margins of my fellows.
One of my panelist gave 1 margins, and the other gave 2. “The differences between both team’s analysis were minor. Equally poor in choice of arguments, confused in each other’s case, but one team had a minor advantage in their analysis –one was bad, the other was worse.” Thats what my panelists say. I agreed to that. However, despite my agreements on the other panelists reasoning, they frowned upon me after seeing what margin I gave.
I do agree that the differences were minor in argumentation. But when one team never offered any POIs, spoke in a monotonely awful English, blabbering straight as if the only comas were the stutters, one speaker dreadfully undertime, spent 50% time looking at notes (30% looking at mates with scared looks, and 20% to the floor), while the other team were bouncing up and down offering POIs (very few accepted though), spoke clear (though not perfect English) and directed to the adjudicators with mediocre control of intonation and gestures, only checked notes once in a while, all speakers spending reasonable time for speeches, I feel that I had a good reason to judge that there was definitely a clear distinction in performance between the two teams.
Up to 2011, I had debated for 9 years, adjudicated and coached for 8. I have never seen a verbal adjudication taking manners into account, up until I coached Team Indonesia for Worlds Schools Debating Championship 2010, Qatar. Whilst the verbals were very brief, the personal evaluations we sought to the judges (or in most cases, they approach us before we had the chance to make the move first –a good tradition, I suppose Indonesia should start) were very comprehensive and covered issues of Style (manners) and Strategy (method) as well. Yes, each judge (except they have agreed to divide their jobs of explaining).
I myself have always taken manner and method into account, but never actually elaborated any of those in my verbals. Perhaps if there are issues that stand out (such as extreme lack of clarity, severely accute grammar issues, dreadful undertimes, total ignorance of speaker roles, no POI’s –or conversation-like POIs, etc), then I would mention in my verbals –or personally upon request. Furthermore, only such extreme cases would make me mention it in the adjudicator discussion (If I were in a panel).
Lesson learned, though. I have rarely ever seen manners and method put into account here, or perhaps people just dont say it but put it in nonetheless. I dont know. But I have seen so many cases where adjudicators pay huge attention to minor differences in arguments, and no attention at all to major manner gaps.
Therefore, I just think that adjudicators should pay more attention to these sorts of stuff. Not only because Manner and Method among the marking criteria. But we also want to have good public speakers, dont we?
Debating is not only about making a boring lecture. Its not THAT much of argumentation either, if you ask me. Seriously. Professionals and professors can spend up to years to debate, and thousands of pages of research books to support each of their arguments. Do you seriously think that any of us could have perfect analysis within a 8 minute x 3 speech (plus 4 for replies) on whether or not free trade actually gets us better economy? Or worse, expecting highschool kids to do it?
It is a Parliamentary simulation. Real parliaments would take a hell long time to discuss in sessions, out session, inviting experts, given academic recommendations, etc. But one thing for sure, we are pretending to be politicians.
In real life the society may use their own personal knowledge to judge, but adjudicators (representing average reasonable persons) are not allowed in parliamentary debating competitions. But our jobs as politicians are to convince people, right? Try make a long lecture about anti corruption reformation you wish to propose. You might be able to prove a point, but people will at least sleep (or not listen at all).
So what do we have to make an epic and convincing speech? I’d like to propose dangdut concerts, but average-reasonable-persons wont be convinced by merely that. It has to be a combination of cool rhetorics, deduction of logic acceptable by common ears, and appropriate use of public speaking skills. Thus, the criteria of our marking sheets, alltogether holistically.
A nice quote from Megamind:
Titan : “What’s the difference between a villiain and a super villain?”
Megamind : “PRESENTATION!”