Once there was a robot named Bob.

Bob was programmed to deliver helpful information in a timely and organized matter.

Bob was intuitive. His antennas could pick-up and decode human language, triggering him to respond with his helpful information whenever another person spoke.

There were four different types of basic information that Bob had been programmed to deliver: Topicality, Significance, Inherency, and Solvency. Different decoded statements triggered different responses from each of Bob’s categories. In fact, Bob’s programming was so advanced that often Bob would “listen” to someone speak, and the content of their speech would trigger fifteen or twenty informational responses. But this did not overwhelm Bob’s machinery. He was programmed to carefully list the information and even to number each separate statement so as not to confuse his human listeners. He even delivered the information especially quickly in order to achieve time efficiency.

Bob was an exemplary robot.

Bob was a terrible debater.

Bob was even more horrendous as a public communicator in higher education and the workplace.

40% of intermediate and advanced debate students I judge are Bob.

50% are not as smart as Bob, but they are trying hard to become Bob (or have given up).

The remaining 10% create themes, tell stories, use emotion, slow down, and see every argument as a mini persuasive speech. I call them Fred. Fred is not a robot. He’s your favorite next-door neighbor. He’s brilliant, but he’s relatable. And he has a heart.

If Bob debates Fred and a human (other than a crazy Bob parent or Bob alumnus) is judging, Fred will win 95% of the time.

Be a Fred, not a Bob.

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