8. Speaker Points Explained



I know that some parents think that speaker points represent a “grade” in debate skills, but it doesn’t. Speaker points on the Ballot have nothing to do with either you win or lose, as they are two separate categories. Speaker points are only used as a tiebreaker. 

In reality, winning a round shows your true debate skills such as persuasion through logic and evidence – “strategy.” On the other hand, speaker points simply reveal that you were loud, clear, and polite – “delivery.” 

Ultimately, we would like our child to do both well – delivery (mouth) and strategy (brain); so, if your child is already good in delivery, then one less worry for you.


  1. Each judge is different; some are stingy and some are generous with points. For example, stingy judges might give students points ranging from 18 – 25, while generous judges give points ranging from 25-30. Therefore, unlucky students who get stingy judges will have nearly impossible chance of winning speaker awards. For example, in 2017 December China NSDA Kevin was #1, Kelly #4, but after only two months, in 2018 February China TOC, they didn’t even make it to the top 25 speakers. Instead, Yvette and Ethan made it to top 25 list.  The fact that both debaters from the same team were awarded in year 2017 (both Kelly & Kevin) and 2018 (both Yvette & Ethan) shows that most likely Kelly/Kevin had luck with generous judges in 2017, but the luck was not with them two months later, and vice versa for Yvette/Ethan. 
  2. Because speaker points don’t represent your debate skills, but your vocal delivery, a student with a loud, clear, high-pitched voice will often receive higher speaker points. However, because parents believe what they see and hear rather than what is behind the scene such as “winning strategy” that actually renders a “winning vote,” too frequently misconceive the louder speaker as a better debater. This is not only true with the parents, but even with many “lay” judges common in PF and WSD debates. Non-expert judges hired in PF and WSD too frequently focus more in speech style than the argumentation, and thus vote for the louder team because they don’t understand the arguments enough; however, this phenomena happens less frequently with policy debate. 
  3. By the same logic, judges tend to give your high-pitched female partner higher speaker points as opposed to the male partner with a lower, deeper voice. For example, in 2017 China NSDA Changxia , I thought for sure Brent who was the Novice Champion would also win a speaker award because he enunciates with clear, loud voice, and almost never stutters, but his sister Yasmin with a voice that is higher and more pleasant won the speaker award, not Brent, who even his sister Yasmin and the team’s mom admitted was a better debater.
  4. Judges usually give more speaker points to the second speaker because second speaker does the rebuttal, the fighting in the debate, the most cogent and persuasive arguments in the round in order to win. In addition, the second speaker delivers the last speech in debate, which affects the judging the most.
  5. Judges also give lower speaker points to debaters who speak too slow, speak too fast, stutter, or silent. For example, my son Brandon, Kelly, Allen, Kevin, and other policy debaters who had years of debate experience are so advanced that they usually speak too fast in rounds (called spreading in policy debate); therefore, they had a hard time suddenly adjusting to the slower PF style of debate in 2016 Korea NSDA. As a result, they received lower speaker points compared to some of the novice, female, high-pitched speakers like Yasmin and Kristina who spoke slower.
  6. Judges also give lower speaker points to overly aggressive or rude debaters. U.S. Style debate encourages civility by awarding polite debaters with higher speaker points. 

I hope you finally comprehend this difference, and understand that winning is more important in debate as opposed to speaker points, as speaker points often fluctuate too wildly on luck (what kind of judges you get), or the voice type (high/low, male/female), proving that it really has nothing to do with your child’s mental ability. In fact, NSDA does not give NSDA points to students with high speaker points; rather, it gives NSDA points to students who not only win debate (4 points each round), but even lose (2 points each round). Also, for every debate tournament, awards for top speakers are always smaller compared to debate team awards, which clearly symbolizes the order of importance and significance in the debate world. 


For so long as your child is learning and improving, your child is winning, even if s/he never wins in the tournament. Remember why your child is learning to debate: 1) because everything in life comes down to one’s ability to communicate; 2) debate is the highest stimulant for brain and best food for critical thinking; 3) debate students become most distinguished leaders of the world; 4) the new SAT was designed by a former debate champion, David Coleman, and requires debate skills more than ever; and 5) critical thinking is the skill set necessary to survive or thrive in the U.S. universities and in their future job-settings.


我知道有些家長認為speaker points代表著辯論技巧的”成績”,但其實不是。speaker points在ADL評分表中跟輸贏沒有任何關係,他們是兩個分開的項目。speaker points只用在延長賽。

事實上,一局獲勝表示著你真正的辯論技巧,透過邏輯及證據說服。另一方面,speaker points只是顯示著你講得大聲、清楚並有禮貌。


  1. 每位裁判是不一樣的。對於分數,有些是很吝嗇的,有些是很大方的。舉例來說,吝嗇的裁判可能會給學生分數在18-25之間。當裁判很大方時,他會給分數在25-30之間。所以,運氣不好的學生遇到吝嗇的裁判時,將不會有機會可以贏speaker獎。
  1. Speaker points雖然不代表你的辯論技巧卻是你聲音的傳達,一個有著大聲、清楚及聲調高的學生通常會得到較高的分數。
  1. 一樣的道理,裁判傾向於給音調高的女生較高的speaker points,相反的有著低沉聲音的男生較低的speaker points。
  1. 裁判通常給第二的說話者較多的speaker points,因為第二個說話者做的反駁,是辯論裡的搏鬥,在回合為了能贏,提出最讓人信服且最有說服力的論點。
  1. 裁判也會給說話太慢、太快、結巴或沉默的說話者。
  1. 裁判也給說話太過挑釁或粗魯的辯論者較低的分數。

我希望你最終能夠理解這個差異也了解在辯論中獲勝比speaker points重要,speaker points會因為運氣的因素有太廣的波動(遇到什麼樣的裁判),或是聲音的不同(高/低,男/女),證明這與您的孩子的心智能力無關。事實上,NSDA並沒有把NSDA分給那些講話點數高的學生; 相反,它給NSDA分數的學生不僅贏得辯論(每輪4分),甚至輸(每輪2分)。


只要是您的孩子正在學習及進步,您的孩子就是贏的,就算他/她不曾在比賽中獲勝。記得您孩子為什麼學習辯論:1. 因為在生活中的每個東西都涉及到溝通的能力。2. 辯論對頭腦有最大的刺激也是批判性思考的最好糧食。3. 辯論學生成為世界卓越的領導人。最後4. 新制SAT是由前任辯論冠軍-David Coleman所設計,要求比以前更多的辯論技巧。