Be nice and be precise. Be wise and don't compromise.
After having judged a a mere fourteen rounds ahead of state this year (Brookfield East, Badgerland and the MCFL Qualifier), the above statement is my philosophy and best advice for debaters. Here's the breakdown:
1. Be nice: Better said, be cordial and respectful of both the judge and your opponent. If you are in any way condescending to either, you can guarantee that I will take notice. Debating is at its core communicating. You must establish a rapport with all key figures to be successful. If you immediately recognize that you have an edge over your opponent due to one's level of experience or lack of preparation, conduct yourself in the same manner as you would with a more formidable opponent. This includes cross-X, which should not be used to mock, intimidate or villify but rather to gather information to inform your own argument and case against your opponent's while strategically offering insight into your plan of attack. If you are unaccustomed to looking at your opponent during the course of your debate, I challenge you to do so. It takes more courage.
2. Be precise: I have judged debaters who spread and those who don't and have found that both styles can be equally as successful. What distinguishes one's success is an ability to choose words carefully and efficiently use time. Simply spewing a lot of information for the sake of getting it out there, only to drop most of it in subsequent rebuttals, is a waste of words and time. I value precision highly, as I value time!
3. Be wise: I appreciate creativity in a debater's argumentation, including Ks and PICs, but I can also tell when a debater is relying on a creative line of argumentation simply to avoid the threat of an opposing argument. Exude confidence and adjust to your circumstances. Listen deliberately to your opponent to find holes in his logic and/or in her evidence. I value timely wit and flexibility.
4. Don't compromise. Once you have begun to debate, see your argument through. Defend it, and not simply by restating what you have already said (see #2). Speak purposefully and confidently. During the cross-X do not allow your opponent to have an open floor to have more time to make her case (I see this often! See #3); be in charge and precise in your questioning (see #2).