The Judging Process and Presentation#
At the beginning of a competition, teams will have a 5 minute presentation followed by a brief Q&A period where judges can ask questions about the portfolio and presentation. Following this, judges may sometimes do follow up interviews in the pits where they ask teams more questions about specific things to help in their deliberations. This process is as important as your written documentation when it comes to the success of your team in awards.
You are a team, act like one. You should practice multiple times with each other and act as a team. Don’t talk over each other, let everyone have a chance to respond. You should know each other’s scripts and also how to answer a broad range of questions.
Be professional. Always assume a judge is watching you. While you don’t have to abstain from fun, be careful of how you act. When you encounter judges, be on your best behavior and be as professional as you can.
Be Consistent! If you say something during the beginning Q&A, make sure you say the same thing during pit judging. If you call out one specific mechanism as innovative, don’t talk about a different mechanism when questioned. Always be consistent.
Vary who answers the questions. Make sure everybody has an opportunity to speak.
Use your portfolio! You can use it to reference things or point to various sections, especially if you can’t remember something in the moment.
Don’t ramble but also don’t cut it short. Answer questions fully, but there is no benefit to wasting judges time. Most of the time, judges have a set time allotment with each team so wasting time may decrease the number of questions you can answer.
Try not to go off topic. If a judge asks about outreach, don’t talk about robot design too much. Judges are usually asking things for a specific purpose and other information may get wasted.
The presentation is a 5 minute presentation during which judges are not allowed to interrupt. At the end of 5 minutes, you will either be asked to stop or be interrupted by the judges. There is no set format for this period, so your team can figure out how they want to present. Generally, most teams will do scripted formal presentations, often with each student tackling a different part of information about the team, robot, outreaches, etc. Its recommended teams cover topics from every award topic.
While it may be tempting to do something unique, like singing or performing your presentation, be aware that this is usually difficult for little benefit. Unless you know you can pull it off very well, you probably shouldn’t try it.
There is generally no penalty for using scripts, so it is highly recommended they are used. In addition, you should practice the judging period repeatedly before the competition. Practice everything from walking in and giving your portfolio to the judges to the question and answer period. Make sure you are comfortable with your script and with answering questions.
Practice speaking clearly and precisely. You should practice multiple times and not only know your lines, but what people around you are going to say.
Use the robot! Have other team members point and move things on the robot as you speak to demonstrate.
While having a script won’t be held against you, try to avoid gluing your eyes to your script and looking down. Looking at the judges occasionally will go a long way in making your presentation more professional
Make sure everybody gets a chance to say something or answer a question. Having students say nothing during judging can look bad.
The Q&A period is just as important as the presentation and should be practiced multiple times until the team is comfortable answering impromptu questions. A good idea is to practice the sample judges questions (Appendix B). Mentors should ask questions similar to those in the sample judges question, in addition to difficult to answer questions (“What award do you think you deserve?” is an example of a question that is incredibly difficult to answer on the spot).
Judges almost always ask something along the lines of “Is there anything else that you want us to know that was not covered?” Make sure you have a response to this question! The best strategy is usually to answer with something that wasn’t asked about or covered as well, so pay attention to what topics have been covered during the Q&A.
During the competition, secondary groups of judges may be walking around pits to ask more questions about specific components of the team, robot, or outreach. These questions are an important part of judging deliberation, and should be treated similarly to the Q&A in the beginning of the competition.
Pit judging can be difficult sometimes since judges might want to talk to your team as you are heading out to a match. While some judges may offer to come back at a different time, often it is better to have your teammates not driving talk to the judge if possible. This can ensure they don’t run out of time to talk to you.
When pit judges arrive, one should try to determine roughly what they are there for. Judges will make it clear pretty quickly if they are there for control, robot-based awards, outreach, etc. If a judge is there to talk to you about the robot, don’t waste their time with outreach. Similarly, if a judge is asking about your outreach don’t divert to talking about the robot. Judges are there for a specific purpose, other information may essentially be discarded by them.
When judges come near your pits, STAND UP and PUT THE PHONES DOWN. Uninterested students can cause a judge’s opinion of your team to quickly sour. All students should try to look interested and should participate, get as many different people speaking as you can.
Pit Judging Tips#
Judges have limited amounts of time, don’t waste it! Answer questions thoroughly but consciously.
Have a portfolio or notebook ready for quick reference as needed.
Try to vary who answers questions, getting everyone involved.