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Judges Instructions

Judge’s Orientation Sheet And Scoring Instructions

Thank you for volunteering to judge the competition!  The competition would not be possible without your involvement.  I hope you find the students’ speeches stimulating and the experience worthwhile.  We have just one hour, and five or six speakers in each classroom.  All speakers must get a chance to finish their presentations, so here are suggestions that might make this go more smoothly. 

There are two or three judges in the competition rooms.  The lead judge should discuss the procedures with the other judge and the students.  It is up to the lead judge to direct the proceedings and keep things moving on time.

When students registered today, they received their Scoring Sheets (pink), and an index card with their name on it.  They will hand those to you – that’s how you will know who will be speaking in your room.

The Judge’s folder contains:

  1. Judge’s material
  2. A stopwatch and time cards, for students to keep time for each other
  3. Whiteboard markers
  4. Post-competition Judge’s Program Evaluation sheets (blue) and envelope
  5. Post-competition Student’s Program Evaluation sheets (green) and envelopes, to hand out to students at the end of the hour
  6. FYI, a copy of the instructions that have been sent to the students (white)

Here are some notes on organizing the speakers

Because time is limited, please keep the pace moving.  At the beginning, announce the speaking order and tell students they should be prepared to speak as soon as their name is called. 

  1. Speaking order – you can organize this as you choose, and tell the speakers before you begin or write it on the board.  You may adjust the order as needed.     
  2. Most rooms do not have a podium.  Students will have to hold their notes. 
  3. Students are not allowed to use power point for this competition.  Students were told this in advance – I hope they planned accordingly.
  4. The time for the speeches is about 6 minutes, with a leeway of 1 minute.  One of the judges should keep time for the speakers.  There are time cards and a stopwatch in the lead judges’ packet.      


The Proceedings

  1. To reduce tension, you may have a chance to chat with students for a few minutes before you begin, and also between speeches.  Students have said this helps them handle their nervousness and they appreciate it. 
  2. Once you think everyone is ready, please start on time.  Remind students they should be ready to speak when called.
  3. The timekeeper should signal the time at 5 minutes, 6 minutes and at 7 tell the speaker to wrap up.   
  4. Some of the students were nominated by their professors and others are self-nominated.  So you will see a range of speaking abilities. 

How to Use the Scoring Sheet to Score and Rank the Speakers

Please fill in the speaker’s name and title of his or her speech.  You are asked to evaluate each speaker in 3 ways: 


  • individual score;
  • holistic response:  determine whether the speaker should be one of the top speakers who will compete in the awards round; and
  • ranking against the other speakers in the room. 
  1. Individual Score -  First, score each speaker immediately following his or her speech.  Rate the speaker’s skills on the content and delivery measures.  Note that a score of 1 is low, 5 is high. 
  2. Holistic Response -  After all speakers have finished, answer this question for each speaker:  “Do you think this speaker should be a candidate for one of the top six finalists to go to the awards round of the competition?”   This is a holistic response to the overall speech/speaker.  Respond without regard to the other speakers in the room.  You may think that all of the speakers you hear should be finalists.  Or you may think none of them should win any prizes.  This is your opinion.  There are points associated with your recommendation so it’s important to consider this category. 
  3. Rank order -  Then rank the speakers in the room using traditional ranking, from “1” being the highest ranking for the best speaker, to “6” as the lowest ranking.   

Please do not confer with the other judge in the room or average your scores.  It is your individual judgment that will be used in the overall competition results.  You do not have to tally the scores – I will do that later, when I compute and average the scores.   I will provide a copy of your scoring sheet to each speaker, so please write any comments you think would be helpful for them.

Notes on Scoring:  “A Good Speech is a Good Speech”

In previous competitions, there was a high degree of inter-judge reliability.  A good speech is a good speech, and will be easy to recognize.  As a guide, the scores of the top speakers will range from 40 to 45, earning an average of 4 or 5 on all measures.  The scores of good speakers usually range from 30 to 36 points; the scores of average speakers range from 25 to 30 points. 

When all judges in your room have finished scoring, providing a holistic reaction and ranking the speakers, put the scoring sheets into the enclosed white envelope and seal them.  Return them to me after the competition.  I will tally the results.  The top six speakers, plus two alternates, will move on to the final round.  They will be notified by Monday, April 14th.  The final round will be held on Thursday, April 17th from 3:00 to 4:45 p.m. in room C-211.   The prize winners will be announced at a ceremony and reception to be held immediately after the speeches.  You are invited to attend this final round of competition and celebrate with the students. 

Post-Competition Judge’s and Students’ Evaluations:  Anonymous Survey

Your folder includes Post-Competition Program Evaluation sheets for judges and students.  I would be most appreciative if you took a few minutes to note your reactions on the Judge’s Program Evaluation Sheet (blue sheet), either immediately after the competition or in the next few days.  Your anonymous feedback will help me plan and improve future competitions.  There’s a separate sealed envelope you can use to assure confidentiality.     

I am asking students to complete a Post-Competition Program Evaluation survey (green sheets) about their reactions to the competition.  Please hand these to students and ask them to complete these at the end of the hour.  I include envelopes they can seal their answers in, so their comments will be anonymous.  Please collect their envelopes and either include them with the scoring sheets, or put them in college mail. 

We want to thank you very much for your willingness to support this academic co-curricular experience for students.  We know from previous competitions that students really appreciate the chance to participate in this.


Jane Phelps, Director of the Competition and
Kathleen Williams, Assistant Director of the Competition