Q&A: Getting Good Feedback

Q: How do I get feedback on my debating if I don’t have a debate coach or Public Forum coach?

A:

This is a great question and one that many debaters face.

1. Be specific.

Whomever you want feedback from, you need to ask specific questions for the audience person to think about. If you are looking at your Delivery, ask questions about clarity, speed, tone, eye contact, body language, etc. If you are looking at arguments, think about organization, providing sufficient evidence, extending arguments, etc. You will not get good advice unless you ask good questions for your audience person to think about. Consider giving this person a checklist of things to consider. I would also practice the various speeches of Public Forum separately with questions geared towards the intent of each speech.

2. Use your parents.

As a Public Forum debater, you are going to have many judges with similar experience levels to your parents. If you read your case, explain arguments, or practice speaking in front of your parents, you can get good feedback. Remember, this requires good questions.

3. Use your local network for practice rounds.

You most likely can find another team to who needs practice rounds at another local high school. Setting up practice rounds not only gives you practice, but you can give each other feedback after the round. You can also use other debaters on your team to judge you and give you feedback. Even if they are not Public Forum debaters, they can still give you good advice on delivery, argumentation, and persuasion

4. Ask your judges who are experienced at judging or coaching.

If you are being judged by someone who knows something about Public Forum, always wait around to see if they have any advice or an oral critique for the round. Take notes. While I would not ask for an oral critique in most debates, if you know the judge is a coach you should ask. You should also ALWAYS read your ballots after a tournament.

5. Buy Beyond Resolved.

Throughout the Manual I describe ways to assess your skills, practice your skills, and get good feedback. Each aspect of Public Forum requires a different analysis. Beyond Resolved provides you this specialized information and advice for getting feedback whether you have a judge or not.

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