Judging Speech

Speech Judging Resources

In speech, a typical round will contain six different contestants, although this number can fluctuate depending on how many students are entered in the event.  Prior to the start of the round, the judge will pick up a set of ballots from the tournament organizer. These ballots are where judges will record their thoughts on each performance, suggestions for improvement, and general feedback for the performer. At the end of the tournament, each school will receive all the ballots written about their competitors so contestants can use your feedback to improve!

The judge will meet the students in the assigned room and watch the entirety of the round, which usually lasts for one hour. During each speech, the judge will make notes on the ballot, keep the contestant’s time, and ensure the round runs smoothly.

Students will occasionally ask for time signals, it is up to you whether or not you would like to honor that request. Time signals are a simple system that let competitors know how much time they have used throughout the speech. The most common time signals are to alert the student when they have two minutes remaining by holding two of your fingers in the air, like a peace sign, and to alert them when they have one minute remaining by holding one finger in the air.

In speech, it is common for competitors to enter in more than one event for the tournament, this is called being cross-entered or double-entered. Student’s who are double-entered should be allowed to speak earlier in the round if they have another event to go to, and should be excused for entering the round late if they were competing in a different event in the same round.

At the end of the round, the judge will evaluate the speakers and rate them on a scale from one to six, with the best performance receiving the one ranking. Depending on the tournament, you may be asked to assign competitors speaker points, typically on a scale from 90-100, with 100 being outstanding. After the rankings are complete, judges should return their ballots to the tournament organizer.

During preliminary rounds of the tournament, there is usually only one judge per round. However, when students begin competing in elimination rounds, rounds will have more than one judge. This is called a panel.