About Time

Among the changes in NCFCA competition this season, timekeeping is one of the most significant. We have entrusted debate timekeeping to the debaters themselves and they are rising to the challenge. Head Judges are keeping time for speeches, and we are allowing competitors to see the timepiece for limited preparation speeches.

Learning Life Skills

One of the goals of NCFCA participation is learning life skills. The ability to choose what to say, or what not to say, in order to effectively deliver a message within a given time limit is one such life skill. We appreciate when a speaker is respectful of time, in a wide variety of venues, when we are the listener! Of course, there are no penalties in real-word speaking, right? The sales rep who has a 15-minute appointment to convince a company to buy his product, the marketing team creating a 30-second Super Bowl ad at a cost of $5.1-$5.3 million, the college student given a maximum of 20 minutes to deliver a presentation, or the doctor who has 15 patients to see and treat in a day might disagree. Speaking without time limits can have consequences.


NCFCA participation is also a competition. In competitive events, rules ensure a level playing field. When a competitor is outside the rules, penalties apply. During competition, keep in mind:

  • Debate Guide regarding timekeeping – a debater may not turn off the alarm on the timepiece and keep speaking. There are time limits for each speech and prep time. Take time to review all of the debate timekeeping rules.
  • Speech time limits – the time limits for speeches are at the top of the minute. The 15 seconds before a penalty is applied by tournament administration is not to allow for 15 additional seconds of speaking. Instead, it allows for the occasional minor issue such as a judge taking a few seconds to press stop. A timekeeping error should only be reported to the Compliance Staff by a Head Judge or competitor if the error was more than 15 seconds.

Being respectful of time limits as well as competing within the rules are important skills for effective, life-long communication. We have full confidence that you can do it!

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