2019 Talent Show – English Debate Rules

2019 Talent Show Registration

To register for the event and pay, please click here.

Two levels of competition in English Debate

  • Level 1 – English Debate – Grade 7 and 8
  • Level 2 – English Debate – High School

Team formation

  • Each debate team in the above levels should have 3 students, please register as a team
  • Note: If individual students register, then the organizers will try to place them in a 3-member team if possible
  • Debate will be between 2 teams
  • One team will be called the Proposition, the other team will be called the Opposition
  • In a team, one student is known as first speaker for the team, one is the second speaker for the team and the third student is the team’s rebuttal speaker

Debate Topic

  • Impromptu topics will be given 30mins before the debate begins at the venue for both the Preliminaries and Finals .
  • This means that the topics will not be announced ahead of time.
  • Debaters will have 30 minutes of preparation time before the debate begins


  • The Preliminaries take place at the regional level and is the first of the two distinct segments of the competition, Preliminaries and Finals.
  • Please refer the competition page for the list of regional level Preliminaries.
  • Top two teams from each region will go to the Finals


  • The Finals takes place on the Holiday celebration stage, and is the second of the two distinct segments of the competition, Preliminaries and Finals
  • Top two teams that win from each region will debate in the Finals
  • There will be one winner after all the debates are complete

Time Limits and Order for Speaking

  • First Speaker, Proposition Constructive – 5 minutes
  • First Speaker, Opposition Constructive – 5 minutes
  • Second Speaker, Proposition Constructive – 5 minutes
  • Second Speaker, Opposition Constructive – 5 minutes
  • Rebuttal Speaker, Opposition Rebuttal – 3 minutes
  • Rebuttal Speaker, Proposition Rebuttal – 3 minutes

Note: No new arguments are permitted in the rebuttal speeches

Materials for Debate

  • During the preparation for the debate, the students may review various sources of information
  • Students may talk to parents, friends and coaches
  • Once the debate begins students may not refer to any sources of information except the notes that they have from the preparation time

Points of Information
A Point of Information (POI), is an interjection by a speaker’s opponent to make a comment or ask a question. It is a request of a member of one team to a speaker holding the floor to yield time. If approved by the speaker, an opponent has up to 15 seconds to deliver the POI. Because the speaker yields time for a POI, the speaker’s time continues to run during a POI.

A Point of Information is the ONLY approved parliamentary point.

Guidelines for Attempting/Making a POI

  • POIs are directed to members of the opposing team. They may not be directed to teammates.
  • POIs are permitted during constructive speeches – the first 4 speeches of the debate (the speeches with longer speaking times; the speeches delivered by the first and second speakers of each team). They are not permitted in rebuttal speeches.
  • POIs are permitted after the first minute and before the last minute of constructive speeches. The opening and closing minute of each constructive speech are ‘protected time’ for the speaker – no POIs.
  • Students may make a non-verbal or verbal request for a Point of information. A standing student or a standing student with an arm extended is considered to be making a request of the speaker holding the floor for a Point of information. Nothing needs to be said by the student requesting the point. A student may make a verbal application for a Point of information by standing and saying “Information.” The verbal request may only be made once; the speaker may not use any other than that single approved word to request a Point of information (e.g., the person requesting a Point of information may not say “Point of Information,” “Clarification?,” “On that point, ma’am” or any other language).
  • A POI may be a statement, e.g., an argument directed to the judge. A POI may also be a question. POIs do not need to be in the form of a question. Any and all replies to a POI are exclusively made by the debater delivering a speech at the time of the accepted POI.
  • An argument made as a Point of Information ought to receive the same consideration as any argument entered in the debate.
  • More than one person on a team can request a POI at the same time. A speaker will only recognize one of them if accepting a POI.
  • The maximum amount of time to make a POI that is approved by a speaker is 15 seconds.
  • A debater may not slap their hand on a desktop or table, clap their hands together, or make any other type of nonverbal signals when attempting a POI.

Guidelines for Accepting a POI

  • A speaker may accept or reject a POI.
  • Debaters must accept a POI during a speech (for success in the performance rubric) but there is no required number of POIs that a speaker must take.
  • If rejecting a POI, a speaker may use a gesture to wave down speakers attempting a POI – no verbal reply is required. This is not considered impolite – it is an acceptable part of the format.
  • If more than one debater attempts a POI, the speaker may choose to accept a POI from a particular debater (pointing at, for example, the first speaker on the opposing team and saying, “I will take your point.”)
  • If more than one debater attempts a POI and the speaker makes a gesture to wave down the opposing side or says, “No, thank you,” all opposing speakers must sit.
  • For a rejected POI, opposing team speakers must sit for a reasonable time (approximately 15 seconds or more) before rising again for a POI.
  • A speaker may not ask a teammate to reply to a POI.

Argumentative Heckling is an interruption of a speaker by one or more members of the opposing team. Heckles may be presented at any time in the debate. They are 1-2 words (or, perhaps, 3 brief ones) in length and never 4 or more.
Argumentative heckles are for the benefit of the judge and add value to the debate in a substantive way (they support or make arguments). Only argumentative heckling of this sort is permitted; disruptive heckling is not permitted in the format.
Some heckling is positive. Applause for speakers at the beginning and conclusion of each speech is an example. Teammates may also applaud a member of their team during the member’s speech by rapping on a tabletop or desk; this is conventional applause. Teammates may also call out “Hear, Hear!” in support of an effective argument.
Some heckling is negative. Opponents may, for example, call “Shame!” This should not be used for simple disagreement; it is a debate and disagreement is expected. It should be reserved for those times when a speaker makes a claim that is at odds with the facts of the debate (e.g., a speaker states “And my opponents never discussed the issue of unemployment” when the other side did so, and with some detail).Debaters must allow speakers to make a full argument before heckling to insist on more information or critique a speaker. For example, some students heckle by requesting that a speaker
Debaters must allow speakers to make a full argument before heckling to insist on more information or critique a speaker. For example, some students heckle by requesting that a speaker add evidence or source material to complete an argument. These heckles include “Source!”, “Evidence!”, and “For Example?” … hecklers wait for the speaker to complete an argument and consider if properly sourced evidence is included in a speech BEFORE making these heckles. A debater unfamiliar with appropriate heckling might heckle a request for evidence without allowing a speaker the time to complete an argument and present evidence. That is non-argumentative and not permitted.