Because it is not required in a round, debaters often to forget one of the most crucial aspects of any debate: points of information (POIs). In this article, we discuss the four main types of effective POIs.
Despite the fact that points of information, or POIs, only require fifteen seconds of time and a mere question, debaters are frequently hesitant to utilize this form of communication and engagement. In fact, debates often lack POIs entirely.
The key to asking a good POI is timing. Aside from protected time, a speaker can POI throughout the course of a speech, except for rebuttals. There are several times throughout such a speech when giving POIs will further your team’s strategy. Firstly, giving a POI right when protected time first ends indicates your engagement in the round and also makes the opponent’s first minute of speaking appear largely problematic. Secondly, providing a POI while the speaker is refuting your own case demonstrates that their refutations are questionable and should not be taken as fact by the judge. Finally, and most importantly, whenever the speaker states a false or harmful idea that negates the core of your case, ensure that you ask a POI. Providing consistent and necessary POIs will both increase your speaker scores and decrease the legitimacy of your opponent’s speech.
The following are a few main types of POIs critical to giving an effective question.
The Fact POI
This type of POI is the most common form of POI but oftentimes the most effective. Especially in more rhetorical formats like World Schools Debate, specific statistics or data analysis are often dropped throughout the course of the round. Thus, giving a POI that points out an example or a piece of data that negates the rhetoric of the current speaker forces them to directly engage with important information. Oftentimes, these types of POIs will either confuse the speaker or force a concession that benefits your case.
The Principled-Extension POI
When debating a value motion, it is important to ensure that your opponents are upholding the value they claim to its fullest extent. So, asking POIs that check the principled reasoning of the opponent will likely force them to concede the necessity of the principle they extend. This can be useful for pointing out the hypocrisy in a case.
The Refutation POI
Even if you don’t have a specific piece of information or principle to question from your opponents, a simple and easy POI is one that directly refutes the opposing case. So, if your opponents are detailing their own case, restate or introduce a refutation in the form of a question. This is beneficial because it undermines the flow of the opposing argumentation and likely forces your opponent to engage with a refutation they have ignored.
The Link POI
This type of POI is most commonly used when your opponents are introducing their substantive arguments in the first or second speeches. The most important aspect of asking this type of POI is listening - really try to understand how the speaker is justifying their claims. Once you understand their line of reasoning, rather than attacking the argument holistically, question the way in which your opponent finalized their conclusion. Perhaps your opponent contends that because a given policy worked in another country, it will work in the United States. If this is the case, give a POI about the differences between the political and social atmosphere of the two countries, destroying the link your opponent provides for this argument.
Giving POIs is a simple way to drastically increase your engagement in the round and your own speaker scores.
For more information on how to respond to POIs, visit this article.