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Forensics Categories

Forensics is divided into four categories:

Limited Preparation
Platform (Public Address)
Oral Interpretation


Often, students who feel like they are good "arguers" are drawn to this event; however, academic debate is much more than simply "arguing." It is a highly structured activity that focuses on the construction of well-supported, well-reasoned arguments in support of, or in opposition to, a particular resolution.

Parliamentary Debate
While relatively new as a form of debate in the forensics world, "Parli," as it is known, is steeped in tradition. It is a team activity, pitting two teams of two individuals each against one another. Its form follows the British House of Parliament, and audience participation is encouraged during the course of the debate. Unlike both of the other forms of academic debate, Parliamentary debaters have a different topic every round. They do not know what the topic will be until 15 minutes before the debate begins. Additionally, while debaters must be well-read, no evidence is used in the debate.

Lincoln Douglas Debate
Lincoln-Douglas Debate is a one-person, persuasive policy debate on traditional stock issues. Competitors in National Forensic Association (NFA) Lincoln-Douglas debate are evaluated on their analysis, use of evidence, and ability to effectively and persuasively organize, deliver, and refute arguments.

Limited Preparation

These events are characterized by the limited amount of time a student has before speaking on a given topic. These events are excellent preparation for many "real world" speaking situations.

Contestants have 30 minutes to research and prepare a 7-minute speech answering one of three questions they have been given. Questions are drawn from current events and may focus on domestic or international subjects. Limited notes are permitted. Topics often revolve around politics, economics and international relations.

Students are allowed 2 minutes to prepare a 5-minute speech. While this is truly speaking "off the cuff," Impromptu speeches should be no less structured or well reasoned than any of the Public Address events described below.

Platform Events (Public Address)

All of these events have a speaking time of 8-10 minutes and should be delivered from memory. Public Address is probably what we think of as the most traditional speaking event. It involves a speaker preparing and delivering a speech of his or her own creation. This speech should be well constructed and supported by solid evidence.

As its name suggests, this is a speech designed to persuade the audience. While the speech can be geared toward changing an audience's beliefs, it is most often a speech designed to move them to some sort of action.

This is a speech on a realistic, yet unique subject designed to inform the audience. Visual aids, while not mandatory, are typical in this type of speech and can be a great asset if well constructed.

After Dinner Speaking
This event involves a persuasive or informative speech that is also humorous. The difference is the use of humor to get the message across.

Communication Analysis
The speaker offers an explanation and/or evaluation of a communication event, such as a speech, speaker, movement, campaign, etc., through the use of rhetorical principals. This is often considered the toughest speech to write, but the easiest event to win.

Oral Interpretation of Literature

Oral Interpretation (or "Interp") is close to, but is not, acting. The biggest difference is that actors become the characters in the literature, while "interpers" are supposed to suggest the character. There are also some concrete conventions: The use of a manuscript is required, and most people have adopted the use of "little black books" that contain the script. Interpers are supposed to give the illusion that they are "reading" from this script. Additionally, each selection or cutting is prefaced by an introduction written by the performer that should set up the rhetorical statement of the piece in some way. The major difference between the different interpretive events is the source and type of literature being performed.

Typically, Prose is the interpretation of a short story or novel. It may, however, be drawn from essays, diaries, or journalistic sources.

In this event poetry sounds very similar to prose. Sometimes it contains dialogue and usually doesn't rhyme or meter, but Shakespeare's plays, which are actually written in verse with very clear rhyme and meter, don't go here. Confused? So are many of the people who compete in and judge this event!

Dramatic Interpretation (or D.I.)
This is where all plays, teleplays and screenplays go. While monologues are often performed, it is not uncommon for a competitor in this event to play all 17 characters in a play, for example. This impressive feat is accomplished through a number of techniques that allow the actor (we mean the interper!) to quickly assume a different voice and physical stance for each character.

As the name implies, this event involves two competitors performing two or more characters. Unlike a scene from a play, however, off stage focus is used. In other words both performers stand side by side as if they were looking at each other in a mirror. Duo selections may be from any three literary genres (drama, poetry, prose) or a combination of the three with the same general theme.

Programmed Oral Interpretation (or POI)
This is the most rhetorical of the interpretive events. Students combine pieces of literature from at least two of the three literary genres (drama, poetry, prose). The literature must fall under a general theme. The presentation of this literature may be referred to as "puree of Interp" because it splices the literature together and uses a single introduction, not unlike creating a collage in art.

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