Using Roadmaps

Roadmaps are spoken outlines of your upcoming speech. They are used to help alert the judge where the speech is going. Roadmaps traveled over to PF from Policy. In Policy roadmaps are very necessary as the order of arguments varies round to round and many different types of arguments are made. In PF they are less necessary.

I am of the opinion that roadmaps are useless, especially “off time roadmaps.” These usually alert the judge to the conventional order of addressing issues. I advocate not using roadmaps unless you are doing something abnormal in your upcoming speech. The most common roadmap is the pre-rebuttal “I will go down my opponents’ flow and if time permits, readdress my own case.” Well, this is what everyone does. This is redundant and can exasperate judges used to judging.

I advocate giving preview statements, or spending the first bit of your speech telling the judge the main issues you will discuss.

However, a fellow wise instructor pointed out some times you would want to use a roadmap and use it well. Here are some thoughts on when roadmaps are appropriate.

  1. If your judge asks for you to give roadmaps, then by all means, give one every speech! Part of judge adaptation is meeting the judge’s needs.
  2. If your judge starts time when your opponent offers an “off time roadmap” take this as a cue not to give a roadmap. Also watch their facial reactions for any discomfort.
  3. If you choose to give a roadmap, make sure everyone is ready and check in before the roadmap. Checking in after the roadmap makes it seem like you were trying to buy yourself extra time.
  4. If you are in front of a judge you know has never judged before (as in they have told you), you may want to ask politely, “Would you like to know the order in which I will be addressing arguments?”

If you give a roadmap…

  • Keep it short, for the sake of everyone.
  • Know if the judges puts it on time – if so your timer will go off after theirs and you should account for that in your speech.

If you don’t use a roadmap…

  • You should always know your roadmap for yourself. This means you know the way you will organize your speech and prioritize arguments BEFORE you ever start speaking.
  • Use clear transition language throughout your speech to help the judge follow you. This should be standard practice whether you choose to use a roadmap or not. Signpost, give tag lines, reiterate the most important issue at the end of the speech, etc.
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