For that reason, it’s important to capitalize the most you can on that time.
Here are a few tips for using your time wisely in Cross-Examination.
1. Change your introduction to CX
So many people start Cross-Examination like this:
Hi, [name], how are you doing today in this debate round at this tournament? (The italicized part is a frustrated exaggeration of mine)
I’m doing well, how about you?
Good, I just have a few questions for you.
Nothing has been accomplished.
You might think this establishes rapport, but it really doesn’t. It doesn’t make you look nicer than anyone else.
You can accomplish the same thing with a warm smile and a quick intro like:
“Hello [name], it’s good to see you today, I have a few questions to ask you.”
Remove “it’s good to see you today” for ultra-efficiency.
2. Ask short response questions
I’ll write an entire blog post about this later, but I’ll just add this in here.
If you ask an open ended question like, “What was your justification 2” or “What was your argument under [point]?” it opens up an opportunity for them to rant.
You can ask the second question as “your argument under [point] was [summary], right?”
Any question ending in, “correct/right” or starting with “yes or no,” is a yes or no question.
If you need them to summarize an argument for some reason in their words, you can say something like “Can you summarize [x argument] in one sentence?”
3. Tactfully interrupt
Note: if a judge emphasizes politeness in their judging philosophy, be very careful about interrupting or avoid doing it at all.
Sometimes even if you ask the right question, they will find a way to do a long response, or go off topic.
Here are a few ways to interrupt tactfully.
- “I’m sorry to interrupt, but that answers the question.”
- “I’m sorry to interrupt, but you’re trailing off the original question. My question was [restate]”
- “I apologize but I need to stop you there, we have limited time and that answers my question.”
- “Okay *nod head several times* *start asking next question”
- “Thanks, that answers my question *ask next one*”
- “I’m sorry, but I was looking for a yes or no answer.”
- “Thanks, that’s all I needed.”
As long as you don’t sound angry and you smile, there should be no problems with this.
I often interrupted people to speed up my CX, and never got a comment saying I was too aggressive in Cross-Examination.
This also opens up possibilities of asking questions like “what was your justification 2?” even though they’re open-ended. You can simply interrupt one they gave you the tag.
Cross-Examination is your 3 minutes of showing the judge who is boss. Showing adequate control in a Cross-Examination is important.
Not only do these tips save you time, they also show the judge that you are in control.
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