As a final note on the reply speeches, they are very short speeches (We will look at the times now) and they are designed to be a last word for each side, showing why they should win the debate. Reply speeches are the only speeches in the debate where nobody is allowed to interrupt with a point of information. Times All of the speeches in the debate, except the reply speeches, are 6 minutes long. Each of the reply speeches is only 3 minutes long. It is important to know that both of the reply speeches are “protected”, which means that nobody can offer a point of information during a reply speech.
The main speeches are also protected for the first and last minutes, so that the person speaking can have a chance to start and end their speech without interference. If you try to offer a point of information during this protected time, then the person keeping the time will tell you that you are out of order and ask you to sit down. To let you know that the first minute of protected time is over (And that you are now allowed to ask points of information), the timekeeper will bang on the table once. Your team is now free to offer points of information to the person speaking (We will look at how you do that a little bit later). When the last minute of the speech is about to begin, the timekeeper will make another bang, to let you know that nobody is allowed to offer points of information anymore. If you try to offer points, you will be told to sit down.
Once the speaking time is up, then the timekeeper will make two bangs on the table to tell the speaker that they must finish speaking. If you are speaking and you hear the two bangs, then you have 30 seconds to finish speaking. If you are still not finished, then the timekeeper will keep banging on the table non-stop until you sit down. By now the adjudicators have stopped listening, so you had better stop your speech.
For reply speeches, there isn’t a first bang after one minute, because no points of information are allowed. The timekeeper will bang on the table when you have a minute left though – just to let you know that you must start finishing. When your time is up, he will bang twice, just as he did for the other speeches, and you will have 30 seconds to finish before he starts banging non-stop again. In a neat diagram form, the times for a main speech look like this: The first minute Nobody can offer points of information
From the first minute to the last Points of information are allowed The last minute No more points of information are allowed. Start finishing your speech After the last minute You have 30 seconds before the timekeeper will start banging non-stop Points of information are by far the most fun part of World Schools debating. If you have ever debated before, you will know that there are times when you wish that you were allowed to challenge the speaker that what he is saying is wrong. Or to throttle him. While you will never be allowed to strangle an irritating speaker, points of information mean that you can challenge him on what he is saying. To stop the debate just being a screaming match between you and the speaker, there are a few rules about offering points of information that you will need to remember.
Firstly, you can’t just get up and start saying what is on your mind. It isn’t your speech after all, and you need to ask the permission of the person who is currently speaking. The way to do this is to say something like “Point of information” or “On that point” while holding out your hand, so that the speaker will notice you offering your point. The speaker can then decide to listen to what you have to say, or he can choose to ignore your point. If he doesn’t want to hear what you have to say, then he can tell you to sit down, or just ignore you. That means that he is not prepared to listen to what you want to say, and you will have to sit down and offer your point some other time.
If the speaker does want to listen to what you want to say, then he will say something like “yes, what is it?” or “What is your point?”, or often just “Yes?”. That means that he will take your point, and you are now allowed to start saying it. It is important to remember that you are using up the other person’s speaking time when you are offering a point of information, so you should be quick to say it. If you take more than 15 seconds to say what you want to say, then you will be asked to sit down by the timekeeper, because you are wasting the speaker’s time. Try to think about how you are going to say what you want to say, so that if your point is accepted, you will be able to say it quickly.
If you are speaking and you accept a point of information, you have to reply to what the person tells you. If they are questioning what you are saying, then you should answer their question, or if they are arguing about something you said, you should explain to them why they are wrong. Points of information are designed to test whether you actually understand what you are saying, and whether you can respond to what is said in the point. A good tip to remember is to only accept points of information when you think the person is going to ask you about something you think you can answer.
In a normal speech, you should try to take (and answer) only 2 points of information. If you only take 1, then it might seem that you are afraid to answer the other team’s questions. If you take 3, then you will be so busy answering the other people’s questions that you will not have time to talk about what you wanted to talk about. Although 2 is the ideal number, you might find yourself speaing in a debate where the team only offers 1 or 2 points of information during your whole speech. If you only end up taking one or no points of information, then it is not your fault. If you were offered lots though, then there is no excuse for not taking point of information – just be sure that you don’t take too many! It is also important to remember the rules that you can’t offer a point of information during the first and last minutes of a normal speech, and not at all during a reply speech. If you try it, you will be told that you are out of order, and asked to sit down.