When I first went to a Forensic’s public speaking competition, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had always thought of criminal evidence when someone said the word “Forensics” instead of public speaking. But after three years of participating in Forensic’s public speaking competitions, I have a much better understanding of what to expect. If you’re new to Forensics, a seasoned pro, or just interested in learning something new, then I hope you learn the basics of what you need to know about these competitions.
The first thing to know about Forensic public speaking competitions is what “forensics” entails. Participants engage in some form of public speaking during the competition to captivate their audience with their speech. Now don’t get me wrong, there are more types of groups in Forensics than writing and performing your own speech. You could be performing a piece from a novel or debating.
Original Oratory is the group of Forensics in which you write and perform your own speech. You can write about anything you want. The goal is to write a convincing article either informative, persuasive or creative and present it with grace and eloquence. You could address a personal event such as first learning to ride a bike mixed with humor, or a larger issue such as the media’s role in promoting emaciation and encouraging distorted eating behaviors.
If you want to bring a story to life, then Oral Interpretation is the group for you! The goal is to read a selection of prose or poetry, both if you are an advanced Forensic participant, and create the scene for your audience. It’s fun to play with the words and make them tactile as you add your own spin to it. You have your piece in front of you in this category.
Duo Interpretation has to be one of the more entertaining Forensic categories. Two people act out a scene but aren’t able to look at each other. They work from memory through the script. I’ve seen some pretty funny Duo pieces. It’s all about finding one that works for you and your partner.
Extemporaneous Speech is a facet of Forensics that is unlike other areas. You choose one of the topics at the start of the event and have half an hour to develop a speech on it. This off-the-cuff speaking challenges speakers to maintain their cool during short preparation and find the strongest points to point out to argue their case. The topic could be anything from current events such as who is most likely to be in the running for President, to hypothetical situations such as if Russia would last with a democracy.
Apart from Extemporaneous and Debate, each category has three rounds. Each round has a difference judge and you are required to do your piece multiple times. These rounds help the judges come up with your score to see who wins. Each round you change rooms, judges, and most of your fellow participants so that you get a new audience to hear your piece. I always enjoyed listening to other people’s because they always had such different topics.
The most striking part of Forensic’s public speaking competitions is the clap. When awards are given out at the end of the tournament, the winners’ names are read for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. For every winner except 1st, you clap loudly once. When they announce the 1st place winner, you erupt into applause. It’s always funny because you can tell who the newbies are because they start to clap more than once and get quite the surprise when no one else joins them.
These are just the basics of Forensic’s public speaking competitions. I enjoyed my time in Forensics. What did you learn? Have you ever done Forensics?
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