Tips from Experienced Judges
Washington DECA contacted some of our judges who have judged for 5+ conferences to gather some tips for participants. Here is what they shared with us.
Exude a sense of self-confidence. Being confident allows a student to truly enjoy the opportunity to discuss/present their ideas with whomever. It is rare that fear and/or apathy produces a 'stand-out' performance.
Compete because you want to and enjoy the opportunity to compete. The final score is really of very little relevance.
Think through what questions you believe your presentation is trying to answer.
Practice individually and as a team in-front of your peers as well as your leader/teacher (also parents). Have them ask questions and provide feedback.
Organize your presentation
Thank the judge for their time and meeting with you.
Have an overview of what you will be discussing in the meeting (bullet points). This
helps you stay on track.
After reviewing the overview, tackle each bullet one at a time in more detail.
Summarize what you discussed in your closing.
Thank the judge again for their time, and let them know you will follow up with them to
help clarify any additional questions.
Visuals. Having a visual isn’t just for the aesthetic purpose, this also helps you stay organized in your presentation. A power point slide (paper) with bullet points keeps your thoughts organized and helps control the pace of your presentation.
Stay focused on the assignment. Don’t over complicate it by trying to make it to fancy or include content that is not asked for. Attention to detail to the assignment questions only will be your best bet and expanding on what is being asked. Address the “why” which is the background of your decision making.
Controlled Speech. Nerves sometimes get the best of us, and can cause you to go to fast in your presentation. You don’t have a lot of time to practice, so don’t over complicate it. This takes me back to steps 1 (organize) and 2 (visuals). Organizing and use of visuals will help you maintain a good pace.
You are young and still expanding on your life experiences. If you do not know much about the assignment, think of those in your life (family, friends, etc.) that do. What stories have they shared with you? What would your parents or teachers be attracted to? Partner your innovation with things you hear around you and in your environment.
Organization is a key indicator for a successful presentation. Begin with a brief overview (aka tell them what you're going to tell them), systematically hit all of the performance indicators in the order given in the mock problem, and then summarize briefly the key recommendations given (tell them what you told them). It can be helpful for both student and listener if this outline is written in bullet-point format. Students also need to outline their responses to fit the desired outcome. For example, if the performance indicators require certain questions are answered, make sure the answers are given in an unambiguous way, highlighted in the oral response.
You are telling a story and are the star in this story. Since it is only a story, it might as well be a story about your success that your excited to tell. The DECA judges will not fact check you, they want you to be successful and if you are excited, they will be excited as well when they score your role play. Remember to weave the Performance Indicators into your story and vocalize the 21st Century Skills. Think of yourself as an actor who is auditioning for the leading role in a play and have fun with it.
1) Be yourself, take a few deep breaths before you come to the judges table, and talk loud enough to be heard clearly
2) Shake the judge’s hands and remember their name as well as using it at least once in the conversation
3) Stay in the role you are assigned and remember the role the judge is playing and treat them accordingly (sales manager, client, prospect)