Every month, Mac answers your questions about debate, all while giving wise advice. Submit a question to her here!


Dear Mac,

I know that POIs are an important component to a debate round. However, I have issues coming up with any that are strategic and add meaning during rounds. How do you come up with good POIs that are actually productive in rounds?

Thanks,

Trouble with POIs


Dear “Trouble with POIs”,

I agree that POIs, or points of information, are very important to the round. They allow a debater to interject in a speech without fully interrupting. POIs are especially important for clash, which creates a more engaging and lively debate. However, I understand that thinking critically on the spot can be difficult. 

There are many ways that you can improve your critical thinking skills and formulate POIs. One way that I prepared myself for rounds was by running drills. In one drill that I often practiced, at least one other person read off arguments for a certain topic. After listening to the arguments, I would formulate a POI based on what they said within a given period of time (mostly 5-15 seconds). This drill prepared me for the upcoming topics and gave me more experience for the tournament. 

If you are still unconfident with your ability to think on the spot, there are other ways to practice saying POIs without using this drill. Another method I would use to compose POIs was to have a list of evidence and pre-written POIs beforehand that I used during a round. That way if I found a piece of credible evidence to prove my opponent wrong or if I had a POI that was effective for the most recent argument, I was able to not only respond quickly but also sound persuasive–my POIcould even be supported by evidence. The only issue here is that this method can cause you to read from your papers during rounds, so take this advice with a grain of salt.

In conclusion, while POIs may seem difficult to come up with, there are many ways that you can prepare yourself, such as running drills with your teammate or coach, or just pre-writing them. Ultimately, POIs are so important to a good round, so just try your best. Hopefully after reading this, you can improve your POIs and use them meaningfully in your debates!

Sincerely,

Mac

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