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Question or POIs (points of information) are a part of national's, world's, and British parliamentary. They are an opportunity for the opposing side to ask a question during a speech to increase engagement during the round. 

What is the purpose of POIs?

POIs are a very short question or statement that can be asked of the opposing team. The primary goal of a POI is to demonstrate to the judges that you are in control of the debate and willing to directly confront your opponents. POIs can serve many purposes:

  • To throw the other team off by pointing out a major flaw in their case
  • To ask a question that puts the speaker in a difficult position because they risk contradicting their case
  • Pointing out a contradiction in their case
  • Forcing the other team to engage with your material if they’re ignoring it

Rules for asking and answering POIs

  • POIs can be asked during the constructive speeches of national's, world's, and BP, but not during the reply speeches. During the constructive speeches, a small portion of each speech (30 seconds for elementary, 1 minute for high school) is protected. No POIs can be asked during this time. 
  • POIs should be no more than 10 seconds long. It’s impolite to take up too much of you opponents time, and they will wave you down
  • When asking and answering POIs the general rule is give two and take two. 
    • As a person asking it is a very good idea to ask more than two because the person speaking can reject your questions. 
    • As the person answering, typically you should not accept more than two POIs. Every POI you accept is time spent asking and answering the question rather than spending time on argumentation. 
  • POIs don’t have to be phrased as a question, but should be relevant to what is happening in the debate
  • As the person delivering a speech, it is totally acceptable to say no to someone requesting to ask a question. You can say “no thank you” or wave them down. It is also okay to tell your opponent you will accept their POI shortly

In depth on asking

  • Because the other team will only accept two POIs, and sometimes only one, you need to make sure the POI you are asking is strong. Don’t stand up with a really weak POI because if they accept it, you’ve wasted a strategic opportunity. 
  • Stand up frequently, but know the times when you are more likely to get accepted. In older divisions, debaters begin to select POIs at strategic points. Ask your best POIs during a speaker's transition between constructive and refutation, or in transition between arguments. They are much more likely to take you. 
  • If debaters are only taking your partner, pass a strong POI their way
  • If the speaker has a poor response to your POI or they don’t answer it at all, definitely bring it up in the next speech when doing refutation

In depth on answering

  • If you feel like your opponent is deliberately wasting your time by asking a very long POI, wave them down and quickly answer their question. 
  • If you’re nervous about answering POIs or don’t want to risk getting thrown off, accept POIs from the partner that you are less worried about. 
  • Don’t accept POIs mid-sentence, or part way through a critical line of argumentation. You can tell them to wait and then accept them.
  • Reject the premise of a question. Most of the time, POIs will be based off of a base assumption that you can attack rather than answering the question. This is far more damaging to the other side, as opposed to brushing off the question or finding an answer that works. 

Kids Explain POIs

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