Points of Information

Useful phrases

How can you offer a point?

  • On a point of information. Point, please!
  • Point, Ma’am / Sir?
  • May I have this point, Sir / Miss!
  • POI, Ma’am / Sir?
  • Point of information, Ma’am / Sir! 
  • On that, please!
  • On that point!

How can you decline a point?

  • No, thank you.
  • Not taken!
  • Declined!
  • No, Sir / Ma’am.
  • Gesture: Sit down!

How can you accept a point?

  • Yes, please!
  • Taken!
  • Accepted!
  • Go ahead!
  • In a moment!
  • Gesture: Hold on, wait a bit!

How can you react once you’ve accepted a PoI?

  • Sorry, I strongly disagree with your point.
  • That’s all very interesting. But...
  • I’m afraid I can’t quite agree with your point.
  • Thank you, but the basic problem still seems to be that ...
  • Thank you very much, we can see what you’re saying.
  • I'll come to this very point in a minute.
  • As I said earlier in my speech...
  • Here’s my reply: ...
  • I got your point.
  • Excuse me, Ladies and Gentlemen, but that’s not quite correct.
  • I think I’ve got your point.
  • I’ll get to that later.
  • Hold on a moment, let me finish my speech and respond to that.
  • Could you repeat your question, please?
  • If you would allow me to add a comment here: ...

General Rules

  1. Stand up when offering PoIs and extend your left arm, the palm of your hand facing upwards. (In British Parliamentary Style, some speakers place their right hand on their heads.)
  2. Speak up – otherwise the speaker won’t hear you.
  3. Speakers are expected to accept two PoIs per speech.
  4. All members of the opposing should offer two PoIs per speech.
  5. Don’t offer PoIs aggressively or excessively often in order to force a speaker to take you.
  6. Once your PoI has been accepted, sit down immediately.
  7. You’ve got 15 seconds to offer a point. Don’t exceed your time limit.
  8. You can (and should) remain standing for some time after you have offered a point. Sit down as soon as you realize the speaker will not accept your point.
  9. If two or three students of the opposing team stand up simultaneously to make POIs, the speaker decides which of them can speak.
  10. Whenever you accept PoIs, don’t look at the questioner, but at the audience.
  11. Start saying “Ladies and gentlemen...” or “Madam Chair...” rather than naming the other speaker you would like to refer to.
  12. Don’t engage in a private discussion with the questioner!
  13. Avoid offering another PoI as long as the opposing speaker is still busy answering your first PoI. Let some time pass until you try again.
  14. Your PoI should not contain a full argument!
  15. Avoid personal attacks (ad hominem) and don’t be rude.
  16. No POI is allowed in the first or (in any longer speech) in the last minute (= protected time).
  17. Usually, no PoI are allowed in the reply speech
  18. PoI should not add any new information to the debate.

Recommendations: Offering PoIs

  1. Write down PoIs you might want to use while preparing for the debate!
  2. Be confident when offering PoIs, don’t make the impression of being shy or hesitant!
  3. Don’t offer PoI if the speaker seems to pause, looking for words!

Recommendations: Taking PoIs

  1. Don’t accept too many PoIs!
  2. Don’t respond to PoIs saying “Yes, but...” or “Okay, but...”.
  3. When offered a point, always finish your sentence!
  4. Respond to PoIs concisely, don’t waste too much time.
  5. If you can’t really respond to the argument or of the PoI doesn’t make any sense, you may a) attack the way the point was asked and dismiss it as incorrect or irrelevant, b) repeat your argument.
  6. Make a note of where you are in your speech when you accept a PoI.
  7. Don’t wait until the end of your speech before you accept PoIs – the other team might not offer any and so, you won’t be able to accept any points!
  8. Keep to your line of arguments and don’t contradict yourself or any other speaker in your team!
  9. Waving down the person offering a POI is often more elegant than telling them to sit down again!
  10. Make sure all debaters in a team offer PoI, not just one! Especially 1st speakers should cooperate with their teammates.
  11. Accept PoIs not at the very beginning of your speech!
  12. Accept PoIs only in such parts of your speech where you feel most confident and knowledgeable.
  13. Always deal with the point that is offered.
  14. Use smooth transitions to get back to your speech: “This is connected to what I was saying before,” or “I’m going to return to this idea in a moment.”
  15. It’s advisable to accept PoI after you have completed a major point in your speech!
  16. Do not walk towards your opponent as they deliver their POI.

Reasons to offer Points

By offering PoIs, you can ...

  1. ... ask the speaker to take a position on a particularly problematic or controversial example.
  2. ... trick the other team into dealing with extreme examples.
  3. ... offer PoIs if you feel you need to stop or irritate the other speaker.
  4. ... offer PoIs as soon as your opponent doesn’t keep to debating rules (in British Parliamentary Style, “Points of Order”).
  5. ... question the other team’s facts and ask for a source.
  6. ... make witty or provoking comments.
  7. ... tempt the speaker to say something you can use against them in your rebuttal!
  8. ... contradict the speaker!
  9. ... force the other team to give clear answers (“Yes or no?”).