Forensics is the term used to describe the four speaking events that along with debate form the competitive element of Cultural Convention. During the convention, each speaker is identified by a number and must participate in a minimum of three rounds. In these preliminary rounds each speaker is adjudicated by three judges, and on the basis of ranking achieved in each preliminary round, a group of six speakers per event advances to the finals. Certificates of excellence are awarded to each finalist, while the top three speakers receive medals. The champion school is awarded the traveling plaque, which they keep until the following convention.
Many forensics speakers participate in more than one event or combine a forensics event with, for example, debate or drama. The maximum number of events any one person can participate in is three. The forensics events are:
Each contestant draws two topics for each round and then selects one. The contestant will have 30 minutes to prepare a speech of between 5-7 minutes in length. Source materials are derived from periodicals or magazines such as Time, Newsweek, Asiaweek, and the Economist and must be provided by the contestant. Extemporaneous speakers specialize in current events and are skilled at creating speeches that explore world issues. The speaker is judged 70% on the content (adequacy of the introduction, the effectiveness of speech construction, and conclusion) and 30% on delivery.
Impromptu speaking requires a speaker to be quick, flexible, eloquent and entertaining. Two topics are presented to each speaker and after choosing one they have one minute to briefly outline a speech of between 3-5 minutes in length. Timing starts as soon as the topic card is out of the envelope. During the rounds, it is very interesting to hear the different speaking styles and the different slants given to the topics. As with extemporaneous speaking, the speaker is judged on the adequacy of the introduction, the effectiveness of the speech's construction and conclusion, as well as the delivery of the speech itself. The evaluation is weighted 60% for content and 40% for delivery.
Oral Interpretation is the skill of bringing to life the essence of a selected reading of a poem or prose through the use of the voice. During the reading, the speaker is required to make visual contact with the script at least once per page. Costumes, makeup, and lighting are not permitted.
In Oral Interpretation the performance focuses on:
- the words being read
- thematic significance and character development being conveyed through the voice
- containing or controlling facial and emotional expressions
- movement of the head and shoulders (hand, leg and foot movements are not allowed)
Each presentation lasts between 5-7 minutes. The adjudication is judged: 60% for delivery, 20% for Interpretation, 15% overall effectiveness and 5% for the introduction.
Speakers in this category develop a persuasive oration (speech) around a topic they have an interest in. Original oratory requires the speaker to determine and research a topic, and to write and deliver a speech of 5-7 minutes in length. The speech must be an original work and contain no more than 150 words of quoted material.
The key element in original oratory is the concept of persuasion. While original oratory speeches can be on a serious topic, they do not have to be serious. The speech may deal with a problem, propose solutions, alert the audience to a potential danger, strengthen dedication to an accepted cause, or present a eulogy.
Each speech is evaluated using a weighting of 65% for content and 35% for delivery.