Unlike the majority of tournaments and invitationals, POI sanctioned tournaments require judges to have a strong background in parliamentary debate. Our judging pools are best-in-class and are comprised of high school parli coaches, college parli coaches, former and current college parli debaters, and former high school parli superstars.
POI loves lay judges. They're the backbone of our format of debate and without them the tournament landscape would be barren. And lay judges help debaters develop persuasive communication skills and the ability to distill complex concepts and arguments into something that can be comprehended by an average, non-specialist individual. A trial lawyer needs to be able to learn to speak to a jury, a politician needs to be able to speak to the people.
However, what about the situations where one needs to address a room filled with people who just may know more about a subject than the speaker? How does debating in front of a lay judge prepare one for argumentation in front of a federal judge on a constitutional issue? Or what about defending a doctoral dissertation in front of a panel of professors? Or making a funding pitch in front of the members of a venture capitalist firm? Debate should prepare you for these precise moments when you are trying to convince the specialist, the expert, the people who know more about your art than you do. And its in these moments that you need to learn to show mastery of jargon, theory, and technicalities that are inherent within the craft, of the language experts utilize to communicate with each other, because your ability to use pathos to win is seriously undercut in such scenarios. Lay judge tournaments cannot prepare you for these future moments, these moments that transcend the ability to package a sales pitch and instead force you to draw on your intellectual capabilities to make a difference. POI sanctioned tournaments prepare you for these moments.