POIs or Points of Information are questions or statements made by opposing side speakers to a speaker delivering his speech or to the adjudicators or the general audience in a Parliamentary Debate format.
As opposed to other debate formats where the speaker whose turn it is to speak holds the floor completely by himself throughout his alloted time to speak, in Parliamentary Debate formats, opposing side speakers are allowed opportunities to pose questions or counter-arguments within an opposing debater's speech by raising a Point of Information.
To raise a POI, the formal way is to stand up, place one hand on top of the head, extend one hand towards the speaker speaking and say "Point of Information". This practice derives from the practice in British Parliaments. Members of Parliament wore white wigs when in Parliament was in session and in order to keep their wigs from falling off in a burst of emotion when raising a POI, the solution was to make placing one hand on top of the head standard practice. In current practice, this is no longer strictly imposed. In fact, many debaters have distinct styles and manners when raising POIs although the usual practice of standing up to show respect to the speaker holding the floor is still universally practiced.
POIs are used for a variety of purposes. They may be used to clarify an unclear point, to reinforce a counter-argument, to question a key aspect of the argument being discussed by the speaker holding the floor, to debunk or rebut the argument being discussed, etc., with the overarching objective being to gain the upper hand in the debate even while an opposing speaker is holding the floor.
In the Asian Parliamentary format, POIs may be raised by any of the members of the team opposing the speaker holding the floor within the second minute to the sixth minute of the opposing speakers speech. These are usually marked by gavel knocks -- i.e. a timer knocks the gavel once one minute into a speaker's speech to indicate that POIs may now be raised by the opposing team and again knocks the gavel once at the sixth minute mark to indicate that POIs may no longer be raised. During reply speeches, POIs are not allowed.
The speaker holding the floor may choose to allow or deny opposing speakers from raising a POI. If allowed, the opposing speaker raising the POI is expected to deliver his/her POI within twenty seconds. The speaker holding the floor and accepted the POI is expected to immediately address the POI raised. POIs make parliamentary debates dynamic in that it allows for constant clash between the opposing teams.
There are no limits to the number of POIs that any speaker may accept when delivering his/her speech. There are also no limits to the number of attempts an opposing speaker may make in raising POIs although debate courtesy dictates that once declined, one is expected to wait at least twenty seconds before attempting to raise a POI again. The mark of a good debater is one who tries to raise as many POIs as possible to give the impression that he is "in" the debate and is ready to debunk the argument of the speaker holding the floor, and who accepts just the right number of POIs during his/her speech to show that he is ready and able to answer all questions with regards the argument he is discussing.