Virtual Debate Protocol


  • Partners can be located together (in the same room, using the same computer) OR they may be in separate locations.
  • The judge should not be in the same room as one of the two teams. If the judge is in close physical proximity to one of the teams (e.g. same building), the judge should relocate to a different room out of sight of the team so that both teams are communicating to the judge via videoconferencing only.
  • Students may stand OR stay seated.
  • The videocamera must show the debaters on the screen at all times during the round.
  • Other distractions (e.g. pets, other siblings, music, etc.) should be avoided as much as possible during a round.

General Protocol:

  • Debaters should change their names on their Zoom Screen to their first and last name as well as their position in the round.
  • The official Stoa rules for Team Policy and Lincoln-Douglas say “Evidence must be physically present, on paper, in the debate room.” This rule still applies. What this means is that all evidence must be printed and read from a physical document and not read from your computer screen.
  • Debaters should only be reading from their screens when going over shared evidence. Proctors have been trained to watch for students reading from their screens in an effort to minimize possible cheating. Make sure you are following this guideline.
  • If there are spectators physically present in the room, they should remain off camera and silent.
  • Normal tournament attire should be worn, but students may choose any footwear they would like as long as their feet do not show on the camera.
  • As with normal Stoa rules, use of electronic devices during a round is prohibited except for what is needed to make the virtual debate possible: videoconferencing, communication with partner, and remote communication of evidence.
  • Teams may prep as usual if they are in the same room (ideal). If debaters are not in physical proximity with their partner, they may use their phone to text or call their partner as needed for prep time. The chat feature should not be used as it will be visible to all parties in the room.
  • Debaters will self-time during the round.

Evidence should be shared according to the following guidelines:

  • Evidence sharing should be done using Google Docs.
  • Before each round begins, the AFF team should create a Google Document where debaters will copy/paste any and all evidence requested by the opposing team.
  • Upon entering the Zoom room, all debaters should share their email addresses and be added to the VIEW ONLY Google Doc.
  • Affirmative TP Teams should share the VIEW ONLY 1AC with the Negative team before the 1AC ends. This guideline does not apply to LD Debate.
  • Any other requests for evidence can be handled during cross-examination or prep time, as usual.
  • Judges may still examine evidence at the conclusion of the round. If a judge should request evidence, such evidence should be displayed to the judge as well as both teams by using the Screen Share feature in Zoom. All spectators in the room should be asked to leave before evidence is shared.
  • When the round is complete, debaters should revoke the View privileges on Google docs to the opposing team.


  • We know there will be technical difficulties, especially in the first couple of rounds. Please be patient and give grace!
  • Debaters should make every effort to connect to the round. If they are having problems, they should contact the tournament director immediately.
  • We ask that debaters test some speeches on Zoom (you can set up a free account that allows meetings up to 40 minutes long) before the tournament day to ensure they are comfortable with the interface, to confirm their audio & video work, and to make certain their internet connection is sufficient.
  • If a team does not show, makes no effort to connect, and does not contact the tournament director, the tournament director reserves the right to forfeit that team 10 minutes after the posted start time of the round.

Additional protocol for Parliamentary Debate:

  • Stoa's Parliamentary Debate rules state: No materials may be brought into the debate round for a debate team’s use except those handwritten by the two debaters during preparation time, a printed copy of the resolution if provided by the tournament director, and a copy of the Stoa Parliamentary Rules. The same rule applies in a virtual environment--no information of any kind may be read from your computer screen during the debate.
  • In order to request a Point of Information (POI), students should either 1) raise their hand, or 2) use the ”Thumbs Up” reaction at the bottom of the Zoom window.
  • In the uncommon event of a Point of Order (POO), the challenging team will unmute and interrupt the speaker as per the established Parli rules.
  • During in-person Parli debate rounds, it is customary for people in the room to express their agreement with the speaker by knocking gestures or audible agreement. During this tournament, the option for expressing such agreement is to use the “Clapping Hands” reaction at the bottom of the Zoom window.


Debaters may not receive or access any verbal, non-verbal, electronic, and/or written communication, nor any form of visual assistance during the course of a debate round.

Debate in a virtual setting is new for all of us, so the more things that we can do the "normal" way, the better the adjustment will be for everyone. Thank you all for helping us make this experience as great as possible!