How to Talk to Judges

Awards are an exciting part of FIRST and all teams like to receive the recognition and honor that is part of receiving a judged award.

At the events, judges, usually in groups of 2 or 3, will visit teams in their pits to talk to them about their robot, the team structure, outreach, or other activities. The judges want to talk to students, not mentors, and their decisions are based on these brief interviews in the pits.

What should you do? First, know what awards you are most qualified for. Read the award descriptions (on this site or in the FIRST documentation) and determine which ones you are a strong candidate for. A veteran judge once said “If a team doesn’t know what award they are most qualified for, how should I know what award they should receive.”

Second, select the students who will be “judge talkers”. Select students who are knowledgeable about the team and the robot and who like to talk to others. Then practice! Get others to act as judges and ask you questions.

Third, be ready for the judges. Have some prepared materials to give to them, or use pit displays as guides to talk with.

Lastly, engage the judges in conversation. Shake hands and introduce yourself. Make eye contact. Listen to their questions and give complete and correct answers – don’t make something up just to give an answer!  Before they leave, thank them for their time and invite them to come back to your pit.