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Articles > Heckling and POIs

Heckling and POIs

Heckling and POIs are the only two ways in which someone not speaking can be speaking in a debate. A paradox, right? Not so much. Heckling and POIs are great ways to earn speaker points and set up your opponents for a loss on their side but a win for yourself.



Heckling is an interjection said when a speaker on the other team is speaking that is aimed to provide information to the judge or refute the opponent's point. Heckles are a good way to stay in the debate even when it's not your turn to speak and can trip up and even stop your opponents dead in their tracks.

However, there are also some rules to heckling:

  1. Heckles can be no more than three words long
  2. Heckles must provide information to the judge or refute a point
  3. Heckles cannot be said just to distract the opponent
  4. Heckles should be spaced more than 10 seconds a part at minimum
  5. No continuous heckling
  6. Heckles should not be so loud as to over-shout your opponents
  7. These rules are to ensure an orderly, thoughtful debate and not a shout-match.

Heckling can be said, contrary to POIs, at any time in the debate, even in the rebuttalist speeches. A list of common heckles can be found at the bottom of the page and the meanings of the heckles.



POIs are questions or statements addressed to the judge or opponent meant to support your side of the debate. They can be at most 15 seconds long and unlike heckling have limits as to when you can say them.

POIs can only be asked between the 1st and 4th minutes of the 1st and 2nd speech of the opponents. They cannot be asked during the rebuttalist speech or the first and last minute of the 1st and 2nd speakers. Time allowed for POIs is usually marked by a slap on the table by the timekeeper to signal the start of POI time, and another slap on the table to mark the end of it.

Unlike heckles, POIs do not have to be addressed by the opponents. The opponent gets to choose how many, when, and who gets to ask a POI. POIs must be asked like this:

  1. Stand up
  2. If opponent does not notice with you, heckle, "POI"
  3. Opponent has two choices: Take or not take POI
  4. If they take POI, then ask it.
  5. Say no to POI, then sit down

So, as you can see, your opponent has the right to either take or to not take POIs. However, judges do take off if a speaker doesn't take any POIs, so most likely if you do stand up you will be chosen to ask a POI.

POIs can either be in the form of a question to the opponent's or a statement, clarification, or statistic said to the judge to refute an opponent's point.

Heckling Chart and Meanings

Heckle Meaning
Source? Ask your opponents for a credible source to support their "fact"
Irrelevant Their point is irrelevant to the debate at hand
Our Definition The opponent's point does not fit in with the definition of the debate and therefore is meaningless
Correlation not Causation Just because something seems to cause something else do happen does not mean that it's the only thing causing this change
Isolated Incident The evidence your opponent's provided was an isolated incident, which means that it was more of a freak accident than a common occurrence
Shame Should be reserved only when your opponent says something completely ludicrous and stupid
Here! Here! The only heckle you say during your own side's speech- used to basically agree with what your partner is saying or to signal a strong point