You may recall that around the last World Championships I created a lot of posts with information from my computer archive. Continuing on this I'm working my way through my hotmail account and cleaning up years of messages in it. In this process I have come across a lot of questions I have been asked about debating and the replies I sent. I've decided to post some of them here for future reference. So to continue.....
Question: I have some questions points of information. I'll be doing the xxxx debate soon, so I'm just confused about them.
Is it ok to stand up and tell the speaker that you don't agree with their point, to tell them that their explanation is bad?
Should it be like a piece of rebuttal, or is it hust a simple piece of fact?
Plus, I made an absolute fool of myself last year by making NONE. I just got shy, and I was trying to come up with full rebuttal sections, but by the time that I had them finished, they had moved onto another point.
First of all I'll direct you to my training article on points of information. http://worlddebating.blogspot.com/2007/09/tips-points-of-info.html. That will cover the specifics of how and when to offer a point.
- If you think of something to say then offer a point with it. It doesn't matter if you think you sound stupid because they very rarely are stupid. Get up there and offer it.
- Research your motion. Know it as well as you can and then listen carefully to what the other side are saying. You will find that the better you know the subject the more flaws you spot in the opposition speeches and these are what you can offer points on.
- A point of info is just like an interjection you make in a conversation with your friends. It could be a fact, a joke, a disagreement (i.e. rebuttal) whatever comes naturally in the conversation. The same applies to the POI.
- Don't sit there over analysing your points of information. Does it hit the right issue, is it worded correctly, is it backing up my case, will I look stupid. Just offer it. You will find if you trust your first instinct then 90% of the time you will get it right.
- Like any skill in debating practice makes perfect. Don’t expect to be offering killer points of information in your first year debating. Keep offering them and as your skill and confidence increase your points of information will become better and better.
Now some things to avoid in your Point of Information
- Don't go over 15 seconds. They can be as short as you like (if you offer a point in 5 seconds then there is a chance the speaker wasn't listening and was looking at his/her speech and then they look stupd) but don't go over 15 secs as the chair will cut you off and you may not have made the point.
- Be relevant to what they are saying at the time. Don't try to drag them back to a point back in their speech. It looks bad and indicates that you are struggling to keep up with what they are saying. If you think of a good rebuttal point but the speaker has moved on to another issue then just note it down and use it for your rebuttal in your speech. If you have already spoken note it and hope someone else on their side makes the point again. If that person is the last speaker and you don't get to make the point don't worry about it. That will happen to you dozens of times in your speaking career.