We assess debates according to the World Parliamentary Debate Rules. These rules are used by the World Universities Debating Championships, World Masters and numerous national parliamentary competitions.
Judges will decide who won the debate and provide reasons for their decision. Assessing persuasiveness comes down to two areas: matter (or substance) and manner (or style). There are a range of capabilities judges assess in considering these two areas. There is no one approach that works and judges do not apply a tick-a-box approach to their assessment. They consider matter and manner in order to assess the overall persuasiveness of the speaker and their arguments.
Some discretion needs to be exercised in the application of these rules. For example, the rules describe team debates while most election debates feature individuals. Furthermore, the rules contemplate points of information coming from an opposing speaker, while most election debates feature questioning from an independent, expert panel. Nevertheless, the underlying principles of persuasion remain the same and can be applied regardless of the structure or format of the debate.
We have chosen a single assessment method for judging so that visitors can benchmark judge opinions, debaters and debates. We anticipate ongoing dialogue about the best method for assessing debates … and we do not anticipate full agreement on the issue!