A week or so before my first competition, I sat down with my coach and confessed that I didn't really know what was going to be facing me in a week or so. "Ok," I began, "I walk into the room... then what?" He smiled and told me all the steps. "Well, since you only have one speech, it would be good to get there early, just in case they need you to go. Maybe you'll even get to watch some speeches. Try to go fourth. The order is not important, but fourth is good. Then, you walk up, introduce yourself, ask if the judges and timer are ready, and begin."
I nodded furiously, my eyes darting back and forth across the floor as I tried to cement all of this into my brain. "Ok. So I then give my speech... then what?" He smiled again at the anxious and nervous little novice facing him and replied, "Shake their hands and thank them for judging and timing." Oh yea, I thought. I was supposed to do that at the Round Robin, but I didn't, and then I found out I was supposed to and I got embarrassed. I nodded again. "Ok. I can do that."
It's quite a process, but you have to get it right or everyone will freak out and give you 5th & Below. At least that's what I imagine would happen. OR WORSE. But we won't go into that. The proper scenario, then, is something like this:
"Hi, my name is Chandler Lasch. Is it alright if I remove my name tag? Ok, are the judges ready? And the timer? Great. Let's begin."
But let's break this down for a second: First off, confession: I don't actually ask permission to take of my name tag, not even for interps. If I am about to give an interp, I just rip it right off because 1) I'm afraid they'll say it's not 2) the less time chatting with your judges, the better 3) I'm a rebel and I don't care what they think. About my name tag. I usually give it to the timer because otherwise I'll forget it. By the time you ask if the judges are ready, you should probably be standing up straight with your hands apart, as if you are holding a giant bubble or balloon. It looks interrogative. For your next line, gesture to the timer as if he doesn't know who he is. Just in case. And another thing: don't say "Let's begin." Now, I know what you're thinking. Something like, "What? But you just told me to! How can I trust you anymore, Chandler? That's it, I'm leaving!" but hold the phone. I only typed it because almost everyone says it, and I'm saying you shouldn't because it's a huge pet peeve of my coach's so now I have to be super careful to not say "Let's begin." Don't do it. It's unprofessional or annoying or uses an unfitting plural noun or something. There. Can we be friends again? Thanks.
Debate works similarly, just leave your name tag on, and be sure to ask if the judge and timer are ready before every. single. stinking. speech. And Cross-Ex, and POIs too in Parli, while you're at it. You can do that, right? Probably not. Do it anyway.
But if you've ever watched Duo finals, HI finals, or any crowded debate, you'll know that some people like to go the extra mile, sometimes almost-literally, depending on how big the room is. There are those who insist, despite my cringing internally, on asking if the audience is ready? Why do they do this, you and I may wonder fruitlessly? I have no idea. Why does it irritate me? Well, for one thing, they (the audience) are not. They never are. Especially if it's the final round in debate at NITOC and there are ten gazillion people watching. One of them is not going to be ready, and you're going to have to wait for her while she ties her shoes, checks her phone, replies to a text message, puts the phone in her bag, grabs a piece of gum, offers some to all of the people staring impatiently at her, puts the gum back in her bag, zips it up really loudly, and nods that yes, everyone is now ready. Of course, by then, someone on the other side of the room will decide that yes, he does indeed want gum after all. And then you have to wait again and it will be all your fault. Additionally, if they're not ready, who cares? Only the judges and timer matter. And you're going to get some jerk who insists that she is not ready and stands staring at you for a good 20 seconds and does absolutely nothing in that time before saying, "I'm ready now" like I'm always super tempted to do, but have never actually done. Yet.
Still, for some reason we like to ask if everyone in a ten mile radius is ready before we begin speaking. I suppose if you love it, you can do it. I won't hate you very much. Okay fine, I won't hate you at all. Just as long as you promise your speech will be excellent. I'm sure it will be.
You're homeschooled, and judging by the length of this post, you were probably ready for me to say that.