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.

Dress Code

  • Normal tournament attire is required, with the exception of footwear. Students may, at their option, choose to have informal footwear if their feet are not visible on camera.


  • As with normal Stoa rules, debaters may not accept verbal or written communication from their partner when giving their speeches or during cross-examination.
  • As with normal Stoa rules, use of electronic devices during around is prohibited except for what's needed to make the virtual debate possible: videoconferencing, communication with partner, and remote communication of evidence. Translation: we know it's tempting to research during the round, but normal Stoa rules and protocol apply here. Let's make these rounds as close to a real tournament as possible!


  • Teams are expected to self-time.
  • If technical difficulties occur during a round, clocks should be stopped and every effort made to re-establish the videoconference. Teams should not be penalized for technical glitches due to computers or Internet connections. If the videoconference cannot be re-established, please contact the tournament director. Please show grace and patience towards one another.

Prep Time

  • 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.

Evidence Sharing for LD and TP

  • Evidence sharing should be done using Google Docs.
  • Affirmative Teams should share the VIEW ONLY 1AC with the Negative team before the 1AC ends. We know this is unconventional, but so is debating online! Due to the delays in getting the 1AC to Negative teams during the first cross-ex, the Negative team may not have enough prep time to adequately review the 1AC before the 1NC. Please be sure the 1AC is shared to your opponent's emails by the time the 1AC ends. This guideline does not apply to LD Debate.
  • The NEG team should also set up a VIEW ONLY Google doc before the round begins in case evidence is requested.
  • 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 may revoke the View privileges on Google docs to the opposing team.

General Protocol:

  • Debaters, please change your names on your Zoom Screen to your first and last name as well as your 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.
  • If there are spectators physically present in the room, they should remain off camera and silent.


  • 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 directors 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 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:

  • All debaters need to be familiar with the Parli rules for 2020-21. These rules can be found on the Stoa USA website.
  • Teams may bring a copy of the current Stoa Parli Rules with them to each round.
  • 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 may either 1) raise their hand, or 2) use the ”Thumbs Up” reaction at the bottom of the Zoom window.
  • Points of Order (POO) may be initiated verbally as usual.
  • 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.